It's 2,300 miles -- and a whole lot of difference -- between Woodstock, Georgia and Beverly Hills, California. Katie, 13, made this move with her parents-and lived to tell about it! We talked to Katie before and after her move to get the full story.
Katie's lived in Woodstock since she was 3 and can't remember living anyplace else. The idea to move to California started with Katie's mom, who wanted more opportunities for Katie to pursue her two big passions: art and drama.
"I thought it was a good idea-in theory," Katie says. But since her mother told her about the move more than six months in advance, it didn't seem all that real to her. "When you're a kid, six months is a long time." The whole idea of moving really hit home when the family went to Los Angeles to choose their apartment. "That was kind of freaky," says Katie.
When her mom suggested moving, Katie had a lot of questions and concerns. She wondered if she would have any friends in California, and whether or not she would be able to visit her friends in Georgia. "In sixth grade, you start to make the friends that you're probably going to have for the rest of your life, and in February I got a boyfriend for the first time ever, and that's a pretty big thing."
To deal with the sadness she felt about leaving her friends, Katie often confided in her best bud, Natalie. "I needed somebody to talk to about it that wasn't my parents," Katie says.
Another big concern was what would become of Katie's cat. "Will I be able to keep my cat, was a really big question," Katie explains, "because the sign on the new apartment said NO PETS. But after a lot of arguing, we finally got to keep her!"
Katie was also concerned about the size of the new apartment. She's grown up in a big house, and although her bedroom in California will be bigger than the one she has in Georgia, the new home will be much smaller overall. Will she miss all the space?
On the positive side, Katie is very excited about starting school in Los Angeles. "I am so happy. The stage, and the computers there, they are so awesome. They have two computer labs, one for high speed Internet stuff, and another whole lab full of I-Macs for art stuff!"
At first, Katie was worried that the kids in Los Angeles might be hard to get along with. "Some of the people in Georgia who didn't want me to move told me that all the kids there would be snotty and really rich." But when she visited her new school, Katie found that the kids she met were very nice to her. "They came right up and introduced themselves and offered to tour me around the school." As for the "snotty" ones, Katie says, "You have those kids at every school."
She's also looking forward to the mild California weather. "The Georgia weather is really hot summers and freezing cold winters. And I hate the winters here."
Still, Katie is nervous about the move. Will she be happy in a big city? Will she be able to make new friends? Will she miss her old house and friends too much?
We checked in with Katie after the move to find out the answers to all these questions!
It's many months later, and Katie's settled into her new life in California. In some ways, making the transition has been harder that she thought it would be, but in other ways it has been easier.
Making new friends, for example, has not been a breeze, but Katie has managed to accomplish it. Before the school year started, she attended a summer drama program, where she met with some difficulty fitting in. Katie explains: "The kids said things like, "Stupid Georgia girl. Did you know someone who married their cousin? Do like peaches? You have a southern accent.' "
Once in school, Katie found that the kids were really nice to her, just like they had been when she visited months before. But this sympathy didn't turn into real friendships right away. Katie says: "A week into school they're like, 'Okay, my job is done, I don't have to be nice to you anymore.' And you go through this long period where you have no friends. It takes you a while to kind of get out of that and go get your own friends."
Katie found that she had to make an effort to get to know people, and got the idea of sitting with boys at lunch. Since other girls wanted to sit with the boys too, Katie soon had both girls and boys who she got to know better. Over time she's developed friendships, including a close one with classmate Jessica.
Getting used to a new school took some time. "The first day of my school I was so confused, I didn't know where anything was and I was late for every class. I didn't know anybody," Katie says. But overall, she's very happy with school, which offers many programs, like drama, that her old one didn't have.
Katie's also happy that her new school has a wider mix of ethnicities and cultures. "At my old school," she says, "I was one of two Jewish people. I spent a lot of time explaining to people why I didn't have a Christmas tree. It was just kind of annoying. And now the kids say, "I know all this stuff so you don't have to explain it.'"
What about her friends back home? Well, saying goodbye was difficult, but Katie survived. One hard part was breaking up with her Georgia boyfriend. "We broke up the day before I left because I was leaving and we didn't want to try and stay together," she says.
As for her other Georgia friends, Katie still keeps in touch. "I used to call them every day and write them all the time, but now it has kind of branched out," she explains. "I still call them when I have some huge news, but I also still call them just when I feel like talking to them. And then with instant messenger and e-mail it's not like it takes them three days to get my news."
Remember how worried Katie was that her California apartment would feel too small? That turned out to be no big deal. "I thought I would be cramped because my apartment is much smaller than my house in Georgia, and now I realize I didn't NEED all that space. It's kind of compact and more efficient," she says.
Katie's big move wasn't always easy, but she thinks it was worth it. She's settled into a happy life in California, and she's doing well at home and in school. "This is going to be home," she says about Los Angeles. "I don't ever sit home and think "Why did I move? I want to be in Georgia.' "
Katie's story is proof that although there will be lots of little tough spots and bumps along the road, you can survive a move as long as you have patience, planning, and a positive attitude.