On my first day at Southwest High School, I felt like a tiny pond fish, thrown into a tank full of piranhas. I knew I had to keep an open mind, but at the same time, not let the minds of others ruin the true me. Here, I could be anyone I wanted to be, nobody knew me. It was a fresh start to my last year in high school – a learning experience.
Biggie’s song “Juicy” playing in my ears, TOMS shoes tightly strapped to my feet, the memories from home in my head, and the pink Southwest map in hand, I was completely lost and I had no idea what to expect. It was overwhelmingly exciting, yet nerve-racking. Coming from Houghton, a small town in Upper Michigan with a population of just over 7,000 and a high school barely over 400; 94% being white, Minneapolis in general was quite the change, but a good one.
For the first couple of days I looked like a tourist carrying my little pink map. I noticed people started to look at me funny, they had been in school for nearly three weeks on my first day and probably wondering why I was carrying around a map. Maybe Southwest could make their maps a little more noticeable with a nice neon green, or a fluorescent yellow? I remember thinking the maps at Houghton High were a whole lot simpler! Maybe that’s because it was a single floor school.
I soon realized Southwest is a very hipster school. Everyone here is extremely fashionable and well put together. Something I wasn’t very used to in Michigan. I was used to seeing huge sweatpants, flannel shirts, and UGG boots; “Yooper Swag.” According to Urban Dictionary, a yooper is defined as being anyone born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Loves ice fishing, drinking beer and eating pasties. It is normal say funny words like “aboot” “yah” and “eh.”
I knew it was my senior year and there were many opportunities here compared to Houghton. I knew every school course I’d ever taken had its tests and quizzes, and I’d always had dreams of becoming a professional photojournalist. Being at Southwest for just under two months, has taught me that life itself is one big course. We have our tests and quizzes, maybe it’s not written in pen, maybe it doesn’t affect your grades for getting into your dream college, but each and every day is a test. That soccer game your team won, the argument you got into with your mother, the laughs you share with your best friend; there isn’t a second of the day where we’re not tested. Southwest has made me realize its okay to be a normal person, its okay for us to be who we are.. We cannot be afraid to make mistakes, get hurt, laugh so hard we cry, get into trouble, earn that scholarship, get accepted into that dream college; life itself is a big lesson, let yourself be the professor.