The sky begins to darken as sophomore Sayalee Mylavarapu looks out her car window, and yet the streets of Cupertino are livelier than ever, the shops filled with people and the restaurants flooded with lights. As she sees families walking down the sidewalk, chatting happily, she cannot help but remember her own past in a much different area: Burlington, MA.
To Mylavarapu, Burlington and Cupertino are both home, and she has made precious memories in both cities. From her eight-and-a-half years living in Burlington, a small town near Boston, she has experienced a completely different lifestyle than in Cupertino.
“[Burlington]’s not as busy as it is in Cupertino, it’s very open here,” Mylavarapu said. “There are so many roads compared to where I lived, in a town that was smaller than Cupertino. It was basically just trees everywhere, and then a house, and then a house, and then trees everywhere else. So it was very guarded. It was a very nice, safe community.”
In her small community, Mylavarapu was able to make friends with the few kids from her neighborhood, all of whom were completely different ages from her, and yet that didn’t seem to matter.
“I lived in a neighborhood where there weren’t many young kids,” Mylavarapu said. “One girl was in high school and the other girl was in middle school. But I became really good friends with them because they still felt comfortable talking even with a little kid. They had time to hang out with me as the little seven-year-old who didn’t have that much homework. They’d still be able to come out and play with me.”
According to Mylavarapu, the community in Burlington was unlike the community she has experienced in Cupertino. Sophomore Varsha Subramanyam has a similar outlook, as she lived in a very similar town, Ann Arbor, MI, for nine years.
“Diversity is so much greater [in the east coast],” Subramanyam said. “I remember in my neighborhood there was this one girl who was born in England, lived in Japan for a little while, and then moved to Michigan. And then there’s a couple Indians, and there’s a Romanian girl, and an African American girl and we all just came together and we had such different backgrounds.”
Similarly, Mylavarapu’s community was very diverse as well. Because of this, Mylavarapu was able to become friends with most of her small town, and some of her fondest memories are from her time with these friends.
On the east coast, both Subramanyam and Mylavarapu were extremely close to those in their community, which is something that they were not able to continue when they moved to Cupertino.
“The sense of community was real,” Subramanyam said. “The idea of talking to your neighbors on a daily basis is a huge, prominent thing. Over here I’ve maybe talked to my neighbors two times, and I’ve lived in my house for five to six years now.”
After spending their whole lives in the east coast, moving to the west coast was extremely difficult. From the schools to the people, both girls needed to adjust to every aspect of life.
“People have already paired, up, and there’s already the best friends thing,” Subramanyam said. “You’re kind of alone. For me at least, I moved here in the fourth grade. I was ready to move back to Michigan for all of fourth and fifth grade. At the end of fifth grade, if you asked me if I wanted to live in Michigan or California, I would’ve wanted to go back.”
Mylavarapu has a similar experience, and although she is now accustomed to her home in Cupertino, it wasn’t always easy. Having to leave her old friends behind was something that she still contemplates today.
“I would like to say that I’m very social right now,” Mylavarapu said. “I can talk to anyone pretty easily. But I was very shy when I moved here. I don’t know if [I became social] because I moved here or I just became older and I was just like ‘ok, I have to’. I lived with these kids since kindergarten, since preschool. I’d grown up with these kids. And then I come here, and I had to find new friends.”
Despite having a rocky start in her new home, Subramanyam believes that now, she is happy with where she is, and that MVHS has shaped her into a more productive person.
“For me at this point, I wouldn’t want to go back anymore,” Subramanyam said. “I think I’ve outgrown it and I’ve gotten used to this type of environment.”
From activities to community to mindsets, living in the east coast has shaped both girls’ lives in many ways. Even now, they actively apply what they have experienced on the east coast to their lives in MVHS.
“I grew up in such a laid-back, family-oriented community where your well being and your health, and that was all put first before grades and pressure,” Subramanyam said. “Growing up in that environment has transferred well into [my behavior at]Monta Vista. I think that having that picture of the grand scheme of things, is something that a lot of kids don’t have here. You’ve got to think about life in the long perspective.”