I am a year into my boarding school career and looking back, realise that I have learnt so much and have had so many amazing experiences. I think it is safe to say, however, that boarding was one of my favourite experiences. Boarding plays a massive part of life at my school and despite my worries about it over a year ago, I consider my boarding house to be a second home.
One of my biggest concerns about boarding for the first time was whether or not I would fit in or get along with everyone in house. As anybody moving to a new school would feel, I was extremely apprehensive and unsure of how it would go. However, I was amazed at how much support I –and other boarders- received. Each one of us had two mentors (one in the year above and one in the twenty), a tutor and of course our matron and house mistress. In July before we started school, we had a new girl’s lunch where we had the chance to meet our mentors and tutors and we got to know each other better in addition to those who we would be boarding with. From then on, I knew that I would settle in fine in house.
Living in a house full of 50-something girls it is inevitable that we are all going to have duties to ensure that things don’t get too hectic. Each morning we all have to be downstairs for breakfast for a certain time depending on the year group. When I was in the youngest year (F block) we had to be down for 7:45, followed by older year groups at separate times. After each meal it was our responsibility to make sure that plates were cleared from our table and drinks etc. In the evenings each year group has several duties set for two people on a weekly rota. The older you are the more important your duties are. Honestly, there are times when we ‘forget’ to do the less important duties however it never gets to a point where there is a serious problem. As sad as it is to say, we all have bedtimes and, yes, our phones do get taken in every night. On the upside when you are in a dorm of 5 other friends who are just as restless as yourself, phones aren’t really that essential at night.
One thing that I will say shocked me was how incredibly close I got to my year group. When you meet a group of new people I suppose the first thing you do is try and find things that you all have in common. It sounds cliché but I would say that within the first week we all felt that we’d known each other for years. I remember how shy and awkward we were to begin with but now we our loud and crazy and just happy. You tend to get so close with each other that you build a sort of family-like relationship with them. Inevitably as I am living so closely with 9 other people long periods of time, there are times when we clash and have arguments (particularly as we are girls). However, it is never something that becomes a big problem and more often than not, it is because we are tired and we want to go home. But as it is with any family, we may have our downs but we also have extreme ups.
Being at a boarding school and living without parents automatically instils a sense of independence in you. Because I wasn’t at home, there wasn’t anyone behind me constantly asking ‘Have you got any homework?’ or ‘Have you emailed your teacher?’ It was now up to me to get organised and finish tasks on time. There was a point in the first term where I flagged a little on organisation and was constantly stressed as I wasn’t getting things finished. Fortunately I spoke to my tutor and my mum and I managed to find ways to sort myself out- especially as our end of term exams were coming up. At my school, they give you the chance to be independent even if you end up making mistakes. It’s good that you make the mistakes now in the early parts of school so that you know what to do when it’s time for serious things such as GCSEs, A-Levels and the transition into University. However they don’t leave you to it completely; there is always someone there for support if you’re struggling but you aren’t babied through the process. Even though you are challenged, there’s nothing they give you that is impossible. You just have to push yourself a little.
The last twelve months for me have been absolutely phenomenal and I don’t for a second regret applying for a scholarship to my school. I also feel proud to be a part of such a great house full of so many warm, supportive and hilarious people. The boarding experience definitely been a memorable one.
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