Back With “The Boys”

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By Lauren McCollum

In third grade, senior Tyler Zinkula’s family moved to England because of his dad’s job. 

After living in Europe for eight years, Zinkula returned to small-town Mount Vernon for his senior year. 

The Zinkula family has a home in the country southwest of town, but in England, Zinkula lived in a small town where he could bike and walk to his friends’ houses. “Here in America everyone drives everywhere they need to go,” he said. “There you have to be 17 to drive so I would take a train or Uber everywhere.” 

The social interactions between people in England and the United States are very different. Zinkula said, “People in the Midwest have a very friendly way of talking to each other. You know your neighbors here, you’re polite to people, you say hi to people, even if you don’t know them. You don’t see that in England. Like when taking the train places there is no conversation or eye contact. Nothing like that.”

The school systems are very different as well. “England has a lot more rules, but they aren’t enforced as much,” Zinkula said. “Being on time to your classes is important but teachers don’t really care about that. They let you leave early, and you can come in whenever you want. Going to the bathroom you leave without asking and come back whenever. I’d say they’re more relaxed about a lot of stuff in England, however, they do have more rules.”

Not as many activities were offered in England at his school. Sports were not as big there and their school had only one dance for seniors. “In Europe, the school was definitely more about focusing on studying and doing well in your classes. Athletic events were nothing like they are here. Nobody really went to games. You might go see your friends but the whole school didn’t come out to them,” Zinkula said. 

In England, Zinkula participated in track and field, cross country, and rugby. Rugby was his favorite. The game came naturally to him and a lot of his friends were involved in the sport as well. Zinkula is unsure of whether or not he will participate in any sports this year but will continue to support the teams by watching with his friends. 

Zinkula said he misses the kids in England the most. “I went to an international school so all the kids were completely different, and I think that’s what made everyone get along was the fact that everyone was unique in their own way. The languages they spoke, the cultures they were a part of, their experiences, how they grew up, where they grew up, and it’s all these differences that everyone got along.”

Zinkula said he is most looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and learning more about the culture here because it’s the polar opposite from England. He said he is “getting used to what makes America America.”

His future plans are to study biology somewhere in the US, though he is still unsure of which school.