Letters of Advice from Lakenheath High School


Advice from students at Lakenheath High School at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, UK, for students who are moving to a new country.

An advice book for US


children aged 15 to 17

moving to the UK

Mrs. Ellis’s History Students

Lakenheath High School

April 2020

Letters of Advice From

Lakenheath High School


RAF Lakenheath is not only home to American military personnel, but

also to their families. There are five schools that serve the base, with

over 2,500 children attending them.

As part of a Sharing Suffolk Stories project the schools have been

working with Suffolk Archives to explore young people’s experiences of

arriving and living in Suffolk. Using pamphlets from Suffolk Archives for

inspiration, the following letters have been written by students in Mrs.

Ellis’s U.S. History classes with the intention of helping new students

transition into life at Lakenheath High School.

Find out more at www.suffolkarchives.co.uk

April 2020



























Change in Perspective

When you move to different places your physical

appearance may change, your thought process may

change, you may have the mindset of creating a

“better” you, for these new people don’t know who

you “originally” were, this is your opportunity to start

fresh. With all this change, your perspective changes

as well.

You do have to keep in mind that life is what you

make of it. If you enter a situation or a place with a

negative attitude and choose to have a downwards

perspective on things that’s how your life will go. You

must choose to see the good, or look at the bright

side when things are tough.

Control the things you can control. You can’t control

where you move, but you can control your attitude.

You can’t control how people take things, but you

can control how you resolve the situation. You can’t

control your emotions, but you can control how you

choose to cope with them.

PCS-ing never gets easy, despite the amount of times

we’ve done it. Constantly having to pack up your

house, saying goodbye to the people that meant the

most to you, having to adjust to a new “home”, and

making friends that will mean just as much to you as

the previous ones did, all these things don’t seem to

have an upside, but they can if you CHOOSE to see

the positives.

Look for kind faces in the crowd (I promise you there

will be) and approach them. Making the first step

to change your perspective is the best way to start

in an unfamiliar place. “Changing your perspective,

changes your experience.”

Also, good things to know about the UK is drive on

the left, (seems obvious) don’t say the word “fanny”

out loud in a public place people will look at you

weird, and french fries are chips, and chips are crisps!

Good luck, and welcome to Lakenheath High School.

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to tell you right now, take advantage of

the nice weather when you get the chance. Since

Lakenheath is loaded with a bunch of farms and

small towns, there are also fun little trails, nooks,

and footpaths you can explore that you’ll never get

tired of. Make sure you smile and greet whoever

you meet with warmth because people here will

reciprocate. (Especially the elderly folks in your

area if you live off base. They have many interesting

stories to tell.)

It’s a given that you should be a part of clubs and

get involved in the community, so I’ll skip that.

Here’s the real juicy bits of information you should


MARIAI’m going


Take Advantage

1. If you skipped lunch or breakfast and you’re

starving (but you’re also broke), go to the

nurse’s office because she’ll give you a

granola bar.

2. Cookies are only $0.50 at the lunch line.

3. Ms. Peterson sells really yummy snacks (all

for $1) and if you have a laid back teacher,

ask to go and buy a snack from her when

there is free time.



Making New Friends

When moving somewhere new, it can be scary to try

and start over making new friends. When I moved

here, I was surprised to feel welcomed by so many

people. The environment at LHS is very supportive

and many students are willing to reach out and help

new people become adjusted to the school. My

advice is to join a sport or club, and not be scared

to branch out a little. This is a great way to not only

make new friends, but get involved with the school

outside of the classroom.

Work Hard

When moving somewhere new, it can be scary to try

and start over making new friends. When I moved

here, I was surprised to feel welcomed by so many

people. The environment at LHS is very supportive

and many students are willing to reach out and help

new people become adjusted to the school. My

advice is to join a sport or club, and not be scared

to branch out a little. This is a great way to not only

make new friends, but get involved with the school

outside of the classroom.

3 4



Being at a new school can be nerveracking,

trust me I know. But being

yourself and having a good attitude can

make a huge difference. And perhaps

if you want to spread the positivity

yourself, you can join RAK, Random Acts

Of Kindness. This is a club that helps

spread kindness and a positive attitude

all around the school.




5 6

If you’re family oriented it’s important that you

figure out how you will communicate with your

family in the states during your time in the U.K.

Maintaining good relationships and staying in

contact with your family is key especially if you

know you’re going to get homesick. So, when

you arrive make sure you contact your phone

company about phone plans to make calls to

the states.

Get out of your shell

If you’re an introvert coming out of your shell

might help you while living in the U.K. Good

friendships are an important thing to have

especially at Lakenheath High because your

friends will help adjust to Lakenheath. Please

join the various clubs and sports at LHS. Each

club gives you an opportunity to gain more

friendships, travel, and enjoy the high school


Culture of the U.K.

Because you’re now living in the U.K. it is

important that you adjust to the culture. For

example, if you are used to eating Chick-fil-A

maybe try getting used to fish and chips. Also,

I suggest learning the different phrases used

in the U.K. “cheers” means “thank you”, while

“gutted” could mean someone’s sad.


Take advantage of your once in a lifetime opportunity

living in Europe. Not everybody gets a chance to live

in Europe, so it is important that you travel. Since

Lakenheath is in Europe it makes traveling quicker

and cheaper. By doing your research you can find a

quick and cheap ticket to another European country

within minutes.


Overall Lakenheath is a wonderful place that is a hard

adjustment in the beginning , but in the end it is an

amazing experience. Have fun, embrace it all, and

enjoy your time living in Lakenheath, England.


Biggest Advice

The biggest advice that I can offer is to make some friends.

There is so much to gain from having friends in this community

that anyone would miss out on without them. Here one finds

a closely-knit community, which might come as a surprise as

we do not have much time with our friends before they move

away. Surprising as it may be, it is true. If done correctly, you

will find some of the closest friends that you have ever had here

at Lakenheath, and that friendship will carry on even when they

move away.

The next biggest advice that I can give to you is to reach out and

explore your new environment. There will be things that you

liked better at home, and there will be things that you will like

better here. For instance, roundabouts are much better than the

4-way stop sign, but I, for one, much preferred the food back

home. On top of this, make sure that you enjoy cheap travel to

the mainland every once in a while. Though budget airlines are

not the most comfortable way to travel, it is worth the trip to

experience the beauty of other countries.

7 8



Getting Involved

Whether you’re an incoming freshman coming straight out of middle

school or if you’re a senior new to Lakenheath, high school presents a

whole new academic and social scene which can sometimes become

tough to get used to. However, following the advice I’m about to give

you will be very useful in settling into this strange new environment that

high school is and help make your time here worthwhile.

First of all, I’m a lover of working out and playing sports with my friends;

however, I didn’t start participating in school sports until the beginning

of my sophomore year, which I regret. As a freshman, besides staying

on top of your academics, getting involved in extracurricular activities

is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Whether

that’s cross country, football, band, or the student council, joining these

clubs will get you out of your comfort zone, increase self-confidence,

and improve your social skills as a result. Since I started getting more

involved in the school through sports, specifically cross country and

track, my overall confidence has skyrocketed since my freshman year.

One last key point in order to make

your high school experience here at

Lakenheath easier is travel. Many

newcomers spend months on base,

never leaving once. Spending fun

weekends traveling around the country

with your family will get you much more

accustomed to British culture and will

make you an all-round more interesting


To sum up, getting involved with sports,

clubs, and experiencing the local culture

will boost your confidence, help with

making friends, and will make you a

happier and more exciting person to get

to know.

9 10


Adjusting to Great Britain

One of the biggest concerns for new

students is adjusting to the new place

and gaining friends. People here

at Lakenheath High School tend to

be very welcoming and excited for


Although it’s a small school, there are

still a lot of ways to get involved within

the community or at school. This is

another great way for you to gain

new friends if people haven’t already

tried to approach you! We have all

the basic committees or groups as

any other school such as our Student

Council or the Robotics team, but we

also have special ones like Random

Acts of Kindness. Most students are

involved with at LEAST one club or

group, so chances are if you find a club

that interests you, you will find a lot

of other people at our school there

too. Even if this is your first time at

an overseas assignment or its your

first time attending a DODEA school,

remember that it’s still like every other

high school. So it’s up to you to make it

what you will.


There isn’t a huge difference in the

way of life here in the United Kingdom.

There are really only two major

differences, food and closing times.

Most things here tend to close fairly

early, but that is an easy adjustment

to make. British people live a healthier

lifestyle when it comes to food, unlike

us Americans, so they don’t use as

much seasoning or sugar that you may

be used to. However, the landscape

here is gorgeous and the air quality is

exponentially better!

Make sure to occupy yourself during

the winter. It gets dark here quickly

once it gets cold, so invest into finding

a hobby, join a winter sport, or make a

daily schedule to prevent yourself from

getting down in the dumps. Finally,

make sure to travel! This is a once

in lifetime opportunity and England

can be the gateway to a load of new

experiences. Don’t take it for granted!

11 12

Becoming Part of a Community

Welcome new Lakenheath students to jolly old

England. Our high school is a close community

that has nearly four hundred military kids. We

all go through similar experiences, and it isn’t

hard to find a new friend. However, the most

important part of feeling like you belong is

participating in clubs and extracurriculars inside

your community.

We have a lot of unique opportunities to

travel and learn about other cultures. I highly

recommend joining at least one sport out of the

three seasons of options. My personal favorite

is cross country. (If you want to participate in a

fall sport, be prepared the first day by bringing

your workout gear.) We travel most weekends

during the season to other European schools

to race. The course in Brussels is like a fairytale

forest come to life. Besides the travel, your

team is amazing. You build closer bonds and

relationships with them because you spend a lot

of hours training and road tripping with them.


If athletic commitment is not up your alley, then

join a club! One of the best clubs at LHS is the

Random Acts of Kindness Club. There aren’t any

inductions or requirements, just show up, smile,

and hangout with some really nice people. Plus, it

meets on Mondays during lunch, how easy is that?

Moving to a different country can bring a cultural

shock. England does drive on the opposite side of

the road, if you haven’t noticed that yet. The UK

offers beautiful countryside, magnificent castles

and so much history. British people speak English,

and so do Americans. With that great commonality,

it’s easy to participate in things outside of military

life. I go to church off base with a mix of British and

Americans. Or, if you live off base, just meet your


However, one tip that will benefit you anywhere

you go is: carry an umbrella with you because the

climate is consistently inconsistent with rain and

sunshine. England is full of great adventures and

opportunities, just be prepared, and look for it!

13 14


Dear Future LHS Student

Hello! Whether you’ve come from elsewhere in DoDEA or you’re

completely new to the life of a military child, fear not. You’ve just

stepped onto the campus of one of the oldest (and coolest) schools in



This is the UK. It can get a bit odd at times, especially when

you encounter the weather! One moment, rays of sunshine

are lighting up the trees and the birds are singing, and the

next, there’s hail in your backyard and pouring rain out front. That

is one aspect of your stay here that will remain, for the most part,


Now, some difficulties you may face:


It’ll probably be more than a little daunting to have stepped

up to the next phase in your education. You might have a

difficult time making friends (unless you’re extroverted, in

which case, lucky you!). For the rest of you, don’t worry about trying to

tie yourself down to a friend group too soon. Test the waters, figure out

who you want to interact with, and then go for it! (Actually, that goes

for everyone.) This is a small school, so you’ll eventually interact with

everyone in one fashion or another.

DAnother bit is the language. It’s still English, but there are

large chunks of vocabulary you’ll need to pick up - “loo” =

toilet, “crisps” = chips and “chips” = fries are some of the most

common (and useful) ones to know.


The classes might seem a bit daunting. This is high school,

after all. Fortunately for our intrepid hero (i.e., you), some of

the most amazing teachers in the entirety of DoDDS are right

here. At this school. Their job is to open your mind to the wonders

of algebra, the annals of history, the intricate corners of the English

language; They want to help you become the best student you possibly

can, and for the most part, it’ll be a-MA-zing! (Especially if you have

Mrs. Ellis. She’s literally been voted the best teacher in DoDEA several

years in a row, and she’s possibly the kindest entity on the face of the



If you’ve never been overseas before, or you’ve left your

friends behind at a different base and feel alone, I empathize

with you, and I’m sorry. The beauty of being a military child is

that you get to experience so many places and cultures and you get to

meet so many people, but its curse stems from the same place. You’re

often never in one place long enough to truly experience it. And that

sucks. But you’ll always have the community of people you meet around

the world, and that, in the grand history of tradeoffs, is not half bad.



15 16

Here’s the bottom line: you’ve arrived at one of the

oldest, coolest, nicest schools in this system. You’ve got

awesome teachers, (hopefully) kind fellow students,

and the backdrop to your adventure is a country with

literal aeons of history to explore. You’ve left many

things behind, but you’ve gained something as well: an

invaluable opportunity to expand your horizons and see

the world. Good luck!

Here’s wishing you the best high school career you could

possibly imagine.


17 18


Make the Most of Your


Keeping your grades up can be a struggle, but

one rule that I always stick to is to do your

work. No matter how hard you try, just finishing

your work and turning it in will ensure that

your grades will not drop super bad. For me,

when I do my work, I will naturally try to get my

assignment done right, so I learned that making

my goal to just finish my assignments works

because thinking about doing it perfect can

overwhelm me at times and I would naturally

at least try to get the answers right. Missing

assignments will really hurt your grade the

most because anything is better than a zero.

Even a 50 is better than a zero, so just always

turn in the work you have.

Becoming involved in school is also very easy

at our school. We have many clubs and sports

that you can easily join. This can help you

grow relationships with both other students

and teachers. Through clubs, you can do

many service activities for the school and

even outside of school. In sports, we travel to

complete different countries, and some create

lifetime memories during these trips. You can

meet more people at other schools and just

see the culture in other countries. Being able

to adjust to England might be hard, but if you

have a solid group of people, you can feel more

comfortable in your surroundings and they can

usually help you adjust to the UK.



Moving to a new country can be stressful,

but it is what you make it. This is a chance

for a completely new start, so take

advantage of it. How many people can say

they’ve gone to high school overseas?

Everyone is in the Exact

Same Boat

We are all in or have been in the exact

same boat. Every single person has

been the new kid before, and it will be

no different for you. High school is a

community, and for us as military children

it is especially close. People come and go,

but we have adapted to this constantly

changing environment. No one is going to

judge you for being the new kid. So, don’t

be afraid to go out and meet new people.

The school provides resources to new

students, as well. We have a program called

Student to Student, where members of

the program are assigned new students to

show around the school and introduce to

people. And if you’re feeling stressed out

or having trouble adjusting, feel free to visit

the counselors for help.

It’s a New Experience,

Make the Most of it

Don’t get down that you have

no friends, all your friends are in

America or another country, all of

that will come with time. Instead,

get out and see some new things.

Never lived overseas? Now’s

your once in a life chance to see

some cool things. For those who

have lived overseas, it’s a whole

new country and culture to learn

about. There’s so many things

to do in England, and travelling

to Europe is a breeze. Maybe

one weekend, you can get in the

car with your family and drive

down to London, or take the

tube. Go shopping in Cambridge,

or visit some castles - those are

everywhere. See some sights

while you have the chance. If that

doesn’t interest you, what about a

weekend trip to Paris? Or Rome?

Living so close to Europe definitely

has its benefits. The ferry at Dover

is only two hours away and in a

couple of hours, you’re in Calais,


As for school, the same

principle applies: try new things.

Lakenheath High School is fairly

small, compared to stateside

schools or other DoDEA schools.

This is your chance to try a new

sport, a sport you couldn’t do

at another school, and join

clubs. Here at Lakenheath, we

have a large variety of clubs

and our extracurriculars have

their perks. Many of our clubs

and extracurriculars take field

trips either around England or

around Europe. The sports teams

generally travel on the weekends

to play schools in Germany or

Belgium. Clubs like Model United

Nations go to The Hague in the

Netherlands and Educators Rising

go to a conference at Edelweiss,


The point is, it’ll do you no

good to sit around your house

and be sad about all the things

you left behind. Because we

live in England, we have many

opportunities to experience and

learn about different cultures

and places. Take this as a learning

opportunity and make the most

of your stay in England; you never

know when you’ll be able to visit


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Adjusting to Cultural Changes

Compared to other places, the culture of England

is much easier to adjust to. For one, if you speak

English you’ll be able to understand locals for the

most part. Most of your time will be spent around

other Americans, since you’ll be at school a lot of the

time. And, unless you plan on driving here, you don’t

have to worry about driving on the other side of the


There are things to remember, though. The United

Kingdom comprises four regions: England, Wales,

Scotland, and Northern Ireland—meaning people

of all races, ethnicities, and cultures live here. The

main thing to keep in mind during your stay here is

to respect the culture and people, even if you dislike

it. It is fine to have your own opinion, but don’t be

disrespectful towards others because their beliefs are

different than yours.



Getting Involved

Recently you have moved to RAF Lakenheath, England. Aside from

the excitement of moving you are also now enrolling in a new school,

setting up a new life here. Lakenheath High is an amazing school with

tons of opportunities, but you have to put forth work to reap the


I was a new student two

years ago; my first year I did

cheerleading and track, but did

not feel inclined to join any clubs.

I was very busy with the sports

already, but during my second

year I decided it was important

for me to further bolster my

future college resume. I joined

Student Council, RAK, S2S, SHS

and NHS. Now I do not want

you to think I am trying to brag

because that is not the case. I’m

merely trying to show the real

advantages of getting involved.

I was able to attend seminars in

Germany that were extremely

valuable to my development. I

strongly encourage you to take

control of your life here. You

have so many opportunities you

do not want to just pass you by.

You are able to fill up your future

college resume with amazing

things, but you will also fill your

life with things to do. I will not lie

to you if you take on too much

you can get tired, so make sure

that you pace yourself. Do not

bite off more than you can chew.

My greatest advice I can give you

is to put yourself out there. You

will not regret it. You will have so

much fun and enjoy it so much.

21 22

The second piece of advice I

can give you about attending

Lakenheath High School is be your

own advocate for education. The

staff at Lakenheath are extremely

supportive of their students.

Unfortunately however they are

not mind readers. If you want to

do something differently in class

or even your education as a whole

talk to someone. The counselors

are great here and are always

open to their students. Personally,

I’m preparing to move, during the

summer before my senior year

and so I spoke with my counselor

and she was able to quiet my

fears and anxieties by discussing

my future and my plans. I feel

well prepared for my new school

and I will be able to receive the

awards that I have worked to

get. I reached out and was able

to receive this help; much like

anyone else could if they reached

out. I challenge you to really

think about what you want to do

and see how you can set yourself

up for that.

One piece of knowledge I have to

share about living in the UK is take

advantage of where you live. You

might be kind of nervous to move

overseas to a new country, but

don’t be. Luckily when you are

living in the UK people all speak

the same language as you which

is comforting. Therefore, you have

all the more reason to go and

travel. The more exposure you

get the more comfortable you will

be. There is no reason to stay at

home when you are a twelve hour

drive or two hour flight away from

mainland Europe. You are so close

to so many places that people

can only dream of visiting, take

advantage of that.

You can make Lakenheath an

amazing place; however it is up

to you. It is all about you making

the best of it. I challenge you to

seek out opportunities to grow

academically as well as a person.

The experiences you can have by

just making decisions and acting

on them are so worth it, it would

truly be a shame if you didn’t

capitalize on them.

Image by: Christiana - Junior

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