For Tess Campbell ’11, moving abroad turned out to be far less intimidating than she ever expected. After her father accepted a new job in Abu Dhabi, her family relocated to the United Arab Emirates, where she attended the American Community School (ACS).
“I thought it would be a completely different – the people would be hard to relate to. I thought starting at my new school with all of these people around the world would be alien to me. But they were very much the same dynamics you have in a normal high school,” she said.
It also helped that for an international experience where she’d be mingling with people from other cultures, Campbell found that her school reminded her of home.
“It’s a former embassy school, so even the international students, like those from Turkey, have American passports,” said Campbell. “It actually helped me learn more about the U.S. because there were people there from all different parts of the States.”
Her time in Abu Dhabi rubbed off on her in ways big and small.
“Being around so many different nationalities, I picked up being more open-minded. And more of a funny one is that I always take my shoes off when I enter someone’s home including my own, which I had forgotten wasn’t the norm in other places. I always get funny comments about that.”
In many ways, Campbell’s time at MMS gave her a leg up on her ACS classmates.
“At MMS, we were always writing about what we were reading, which improved my writing so much,” said Campbell. “A lot of kids I noticed at ACS weren’t required to read in the same way. Also, the small environment in MMS gave me the ability to feel confident speaking up in class because MMS classes were very discussion-based.”
After high school, Tess planned to go back to the U.S. for university. She spent time visiting a number of schools back home and a few in the UK. St. Andrews in Scotland won her over.
“It was the only non-American school that I applied to,” said Campbell. “I just loved it so much. It’s a very old university with lots of traditions and communal things that I found nice. I realize that I didn’t know if I wanted to go back to America. I wanted to stay in an international community.”
She still is regularly in touch with the Goldfarbs from her MMS days and has even found a connection to MMS at St. Andrews when she came across her former classmate Subene Lee on St. Andrews’ freshman Facebook page. Unfortunately, due to restrictions from the pandemic, Campbell hasn’t been able to be on campus as much as she would have liked. She went home in March 2020 due to COVID restrictions and didn’t come back until the following year, when remote learning was in effect.
As for what awaits her post college, she says she is keeping an open mind. “As my parents keep reminding me, this is the time to explore what I want to do with my life and what I want to be,” said Tess.