NKOTB: After living in Europe for 14 years, new sophomore returns to the U.S.

(Photo used by permission of Lacombe)
Sophomore Mehdi Lacombe, right, with his sister Leyla, middle, and a friend on the beach at Côte d’Azur in France.

In the “New Kids on the Block” series, new students will be interviewed on their life outside of SCDS.

Mehdi Lacombe, an incoming sophomore, moved to Sacramento this year after living in Belgium, France and Pennsylvania. Next will be freshman John Snyder. 

Q: Why did your family move to Sacramento?

A: My sister (Leyla) has been attending UC Berkeley for a year, and (my family) has been trying to move to the U.S. for quite some time, because I want to go to college in the U.S. as well. My dad recently got a job offer at a company that repairs electronic devices called Teleplan, and we thought that it would be good to move here.

Q: Where did you live before you moved to Sacramento?

A: Before we moved here, (my family and I) lived in Brussels, Belgium, for about nine years. Before Brussels, we lived in France for five years because of my dad’s job. I was born in Pennsylvania, in a city called Reading, but I only lived there for a year or two.

Q: Where in France did you live?

A: About 20 or 30 minutes away from Paris, in a small town called Noisy-le-Roi. It was a very tight community, and I knew everyone there. When I lived in France, I could visit Paris without traveling much, which was really cool.

Q: Why did you decide to attend SCDS?

A: Well, I visited quite a few schools, because we heard the public schools were very good in California, but Country Day seemed the most similar to the International School of Brussels (that) I went to in Belgium. I thought it would be good to have a similar experience.

Q: Is there anything that is really different about the Belgian education system in comparison to the American?

A: The school I went to was a lot bigger with about 150 students per grade, whereas here we only have 40 students in a grade. The classes in Belgium were just as small, though, which is quite interesting. The campus was also a lot bigger.

Q: What are some of the most striking differences between California and the places you’ve lived in before?

A: The weather here is a lot better than in Belgium.

In Belgium, stores closed really early, even in comparison to other European countries, so that’s a big difference. Shopping malls – big shopping areas – don’t really exist; all the shops were just a small part of town, not a building.

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects of living in America?

A: Even though I’m fluent in French, I prefer to speak English (I am more comfortable speaking English.) My school taught us mainly English, so I spoke it frequently and my vocabulary was more extensive. It’s nice (that) everyone speaks English here.

I also feel like there are more things to do here: everything is close to Sacramento, and there are many extracurricular activities I can participate in. 

Q: How long do you plan to live in America?

A: I’m going to finish high school and, hopefully, college in America. I think I will spend most of my time here. However, I still want to travel, so I might spend a few years abroad.

Q: Do you know where you would like to go to college or what you want to get your degree in?

A: I don’t have a set college, but I am really interested in being a lawyer because I like debating and it seems like an interesting career. I want to go to a college that has a good law program. 

Q: Do you miss your friends and family in Belgium? 

A: At my old school, there were a lot of people that moved away, so (people are used to it). I stay in touch with a few friends, but because of their time zone it’s difficult – it’s a nine-hour time difference. I can only talk to them in the morning or late at night, but we do stay in touch. I Skype with them on the weekends if we have time.

Q: What are some of your favorite things at Country Day?

A: I really like the variety of people here, even though it’s a small group [of students]. I also like how because it’s so small, everyone is very inclusive and everyone knows each other. I think that’s really cool.

Q: Will you be participating in any clubs or other extracurriculars?

A: Some of the extracurriculars I will be participating in this year are Mock Trial and the marathon- running elective. I will also be acting in the play, but I am not in the drama elective.

Q: What is one interesting fact that  your classmates might not know about you?

A: I can be a bit of a perfectionist.

By Héloïse Schep

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