Freshman Renata Olmos Walz moves from Spain to St. Louis for school opportunities


May Trejo-Vasquez

Freshmen Molly Masalskis and Renata Olmos work on their short term project, describing where they live in American Sign Language (ASL) class. ASL is one of Olmos’s favorite classes. “I made a lot of friends in this class and I like learning the language,” Olmos said.

Starting at a new school becomes a different type of challenge when moving from another country in the midst of a global pandemic. Freshman Renata Olmos Walz moved to St. Louis, Mo. over the summer from Madrid, Spain to pursue her passion of going to an American college and practicing medicine.

Olmos Walz’s mom is originally from St. Louis, and when she expressed an interest in attending college in the United States to increase her chance of becoming a doctor, she was able to convince her to return to her hometown.

“I want to go to Washington University and maybe try to get into Harvard. I felt like if I did high school here, it would help me go to an American college. I know it’s hard, but my grandfather did his residency at Harvard and he graduated from Washington University. I feel like if I followed the family line of medicine it would make him happy,” Olmos Walz said. “I’m going to take extra science classes, and I like the fact that I will be able to help people.”

Olmos Walz feared moving to the states but opted to make her education a priority.

“I was scared that people weren’t gonna like me or like I wasn’t gonna be able to make friends. But I was excited to be here and live here because I was only used to being here for like the summer. And I loved it,” Olmos Walz said. 

She has found the American educational system to be more technologically advanced than her experience in Spain.

My dad had to stay [in Spain], and I miss him every single day. That’s the most difficult thing ever.”

“[School in Spain is] so different from American schools, it’s not as modern. At school [in Spain], it was all paper and pens,” Olmos Walz said. “[When COVID-19 hit] we did go online, but there wasn’t a schedule, our teachers would email us and just say ‘Okay, we have class at four o’clock on Monday.’” 

Additionally, Olmos Walz has found taking less classes to make her schedule more manageable. 

“It was stressful. We had really hard classes [in Spain]. I took Biology, Geology, Physics and Chemistry, plus math, French, and literature. It was so much, like 10 classes you do for a day,” Olmos Walz said.

Though Olmos Walz chose to come to America for school opportunities, there are some aspects she misses about Spain.

“My dad had to stay [in Spain], and I miss him every single day. That’s the most difficult thing ever,” Olmos Walz said. “Leaving my friends, I struggled a lot when I first came here and I still do. I didn’t know anybody because we were online and it was hard.”

Similar to other students, Olmos Walz struggled with feeling isolated during quarantine and making friends.

“I had to make friends through Snapchat and Instagram [by following and adding people who go to West]. I would text people and from there we became friends.It’s easier in person, I can see more people. So, it’s not just seeing the people who are in your class,  you can talk to other people out in the hallway too. I like being able to socialize. I was scared about the pandemic but I really wanted to come to school,” Olmos Walz said. “I like school better here than in Spain [because it’s a public school].”