Surprise, Surprise!

Whether they’re bright-eyed freshmen or jaded seniors, students share what they think are the most surprising aspects of Stuyvesant.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Despite all odds, Stuyvesant students are making their way towards the end of yet another semester in-person—though this time, it’s after more than a year of remote learning. Along the way, there have been surprising reckonings and realizations that serve to showcase Stuyvesant as a whole. Here are some of them.

“Something that surprises me is the fact that everyone is so open. Like Stuy students themselves are pretty touchy-feely, but everyone is still pretty open and friendly even after isolating for a year.” —Pimada Phongsuriya, junior

“I'm surprised that not sleeping and general bad mental health is so normalized. Of course, some of it was anticipated and this generation is generally depressed, but hearing at least one person break down in the cafeteria every day because they’re so tired after a year is really disheartening. People sleeping in class was more unheard of before Stuy[vesant].” —Eshaal Ubaid, sophomore

“I thought, you know, [the school] couldn't have possibly stayed open for so long since I have no faith in us with our masks on. Also, have you seen the cafeteria? It's so crowded. I'm surprised there [haven't] been multiple outbreaks from just that. Other than that, honestly, nothing much has changed. I feel like I’ve never left [...] remote learning and all.” —Corina Chen, junior

“I expected that our learning experience would be significantly altered by COVID, but so far, we've been doing great, smoothly transitioning to in-person and staying that way.” —Sasha Murokh, freshman

“Something I found surprising was the number of kids in the halls.” —Namera Bisme, sophomore

“Something I found surprising was how little has really changed about the culture of Stuy. We’d expect there to be major changes since there are like two years of freshmen, but nope, the freshmen are still complaining about homework like normal freshmen, and sophomores are still obsessed over what APs they’re going to take next year, even though they haven’t touched the building until now.” —Istab Rakin, junior

“I have found in-person school much harder than remote so far, but that’s mainly because of AP Physics C. Social life is better though. During remote learning, I would hop onto games after school with friends, but now I can do clubs and stuff like that, so I definitely feel a lot better.” —Matthew Weng, senior

“ Something I found surprising was how much I missed remote learning [...] considering how [much] I wanted to go back to in-school learning last year.” —Mandy Wang, sophomore

“I’m surprised at how much better learning in an actual classroom is. I feel that it's so much easier to learn in an actual classroom where I can talk with other students even though last year I thought remote learning was easier since we only had class every other day so we had more time to do work.” —Kentaro Fukui, junior

“I’m surprised that the teachers are so supportive here. They always try their best to make you both comfortable in a learning environment and help you understand the content.” —Yarza Aung, sophomore

“Something that I found surprising was the fact that we have a test every single week. Some teachers give tests every two weeks and others give them in the intervals of the other weeks, so you have to study every single weekend.” —Ya Qi Chew, sophomore

“Something that really surprised me about the return to in-person learning was teachers’ lack of availability. I usually don’t have the free periods when teachers have office hours and they leave by the time I'm finished with school each day. This was a big change from remote learning where I could meet with my teacher over Zoom every day after class if I needed to.” —Bella Rosen, sophomore

“Something I was surprised with was how smoothly Stuy transitioned back to in-person. Even though it's a good thing, I felt like the fact that we were learning remotely was completely brushed over [...] Even though we’re already a few months into school, I’m still struggling with being back in the building, and I feel like there's no outlet to go to talk about my mental and emotional health because Stuy is trying to move on from the past year, instead of acknowledging it.” —Linsey Wong, junior

“I was surprised at how few people caught COVID-19 once we came back to school. I thought school would close after like three months but now we’re going into December and we’re still continuing to attend in-person classes.” —Eliezer Cho, sophomore

“Being remote felt so incredibly impersonal. As one little box on Zoom, it felt like anyone could replace me [...] like any little box could take over mine, and it wouldn’t really matter. Being in person feels so much more personal. And, not surprisingly, doing theater, and honestly everything, in person is so much better.” —Nicole Itkin, senior

“When I came back into in-person learning I realized [that] time management is important. During online school, there was a good amount of time to manage work during your classes, [...] especially since it ended early. Coming back to in-person school made me realize managing your time in junior year is harder than managing time during quarantine.” —Aishwarya Phulara, junior

“Now I have to have a schedule for sleeping [so] there is some consistency in my normal day. Before, I always went to sleep at two and woke up at 10. Now, I’m able to sleep pretty early and I think it’s a combination of easier teachers. I’m really thankful for that.” —Andrey Sokolov, junior

“I learned that I should not take being able to physically come to school for granted. Before the pandemic, I would often dream of staying home all day and learning from the comfort of my room [...] going to in-person school after a period of isolation has reminded me of how important face to face interaction with friends and teachers is.” —Benjamin Botnik, senior