Settling Into St. Louis


On top of a global pandemic, Mika Kipnis had to deal with another layer of stress this past summer: a major move across the country into a new state and school. Originally from Charlottesville, a city in central Virginia and roughly a two hour drive from Washington DC, the junior spent a large portion of her life there. However, this past June, she moved into a new city and school district where in person meeting and learning had been halted. Her schools shut down mid-March this year, around the same time as Ladue.

“I wasn’t able to say bye to people,” she says, “because it felt like, oh we’re not actually leaving for good yet. That was really hard for me when I realized that I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye.”

While moving to another state is already a difficult process, the pandemic brought new difficulties. What could have been a three hour flight became a 14 hour road trip, she says, and the most difficult part was with maintaining safety precautions as cases across the country increased.

“We had a lot of people coming into our house as part of the moving process,” she said, “The hardest part was probably the fact that others didn’t want to be cautious, so we had to ask them to wear a mask when we were trying to be safe throughout the process.”

After they moved, she says, the most difficult part of settling in was meeting new people. Without school, which at that point in the summer was growing increasingly likely to be fully virtual in the district, and with most of the city, and country under various levels of lockdown and stay at home orders, it was difficult to meet new people.

“I was able to meet some people through my summer job at the Jewish Community Center,” she says, “And being in breakout rooms on zoom really helps, because I can meet some people and kind of talk with them.”

Another big help in meeting people and settling into the district was joining the Girl’s Cross Country team, where she says she’s made a lot more friends than she anticipated. She participated in cross country at her old school, and chose to join Ladue’s team for her love of the sport and its athletes.

“I’ve made over 20 friends by just joining the team so i’m really thankful that the coach let me on,” she says, “I feel like personally the best people are in cross country.”

So far, she says, St. Louis has been great to her and her family. The only downside has been the fact that she can’t go explore all that it has to offer like she usually would.

“I really like St. Louis, we’ve been to the art museum and some others in Forest park, which have been really great,” she says, “I’m excited because in Charlottesville it was a little town, so It’s really nice to be able to drive 20 mins to a museum, the city’s culture has been one of the best parts so far.”