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Away from Home - Life as a Boarder at High School

Boarding School.jpgImage: Martin Davidson

Life in a Perth Boarding School

By Jillian H and Karri G, both 15.
Flourishnote: Jillian and Karri did work experience at Flourish and I asked them to write something about school and being a boarder. This is their story. Ed.

"We began boarding at a private, all girls’ boarding school in Perth this year as Year 10s.  


It has been a very interesting experience for both of us, even though each of us came from completely different lives.  One, Jillian comes from the small rural town of Quairading and lives on a farm.  In contrast, Karri previously lived in Holland but her family is moving to Perth later this year and she will become a day girl for the remainder of high school.


First term brought a big change to our lives and with it a lot of homesickness.  


The food, people, teachers, house mothers, routines and surroundings were the biggest things we now face.  


Everything at the boarding house and school was so unknown so we had to be brave, ask lots of questions and just focus on getting through each day.  


Everyone understood what we were going through and told us that it’s alright, just hang in there it will get better.  At that stage we weren’t really willing to believe them.  The most support in the first few difficult weeks surprisingly came from the other girls who hardly even knew us but were always there with a shoulder to cry on.  


The loving support of our families and friends was always just a phone call away.  When we had a bad day, which seemed to be a reoccurring event for the first few weeks, we let it out through the tears.  We soon realised, with the help of our new friends that it wasn’t all as scary as it seemed and forgave our parents for sending us away.


By second term the friendships were stronger and we were becoming more comfortable with the shared living arrangements.  We got used to walking from our rooms to the bathroom at the other end of the corridor in just a towel, carrying all our shower gear.  Only to find when we got there that all the showers were taken!


The restriction on internet usage was something else we had to cope with.  No longer could we spend hours chatting to our friends on MSN and Facebook as these sites are blocked for our protection.  Not having the distraction of theses sites does make us do more homework and study though which is something our parents would be happy about at least.  The food from the kitchen is just not the same as Mum’s cooking.  It takes quite a lot of effort to eat healthy as most of the fruit we are provided with is far from 'top quality'.


As the year progressed we both got involved in more extra curricular activities and outings with the boarding house made it much more enjoyable for us and helped us to extend our social groups.  


We realised that the day girls weren’t as scary as they seemed either and started bonding with them too.  This is important as we tend to socialise more with just the boarders.


Through boarding outings we were introduced to boys from other private boarding schools in Perth so we don’t feel as if all we ever see is girls.  At times we feel quite trapped and envy the freedom of day girls so it’s great when we do get out.  


It’s hard obeying the rules but it does make things run smoothly.  


We were getting over the want to go home but didn’t like the thought of spending the next three years of our lives at boarding school.  The school work and homework load was also increasing and finishing first semester felt like a great accomplishment.  Thinking back no-one really knows where the time has gone.  Time must fly when you’re having fun!


We are now nearing the end of our first year away at boarding school.  It’s exciting to think that a whole year has passed and to go on holidays again but the thought of Year 11 is lingering in our minds.


There are of course a lot of negative things but that comes with life.  It’s disappointing when you hear about girls stealing from their friends and it sometimes causes you to rethink who you can trust.  


The food will never be the same as home cooking and we’re not expecting to ever get over the homesickness.  


There’s still plenty more things to do though before the big break, end of year exams which we will hopefully pass, outings with the boarding house, excursions, shopping trips, beach leaves and socialising.  


Going to boarding school may have been the hardest thing for us to do but we have made life long friends so it has definitely been worth it.  

There is always a support group you can turn to when you’re upset, angry or happy; all you have to do is walk next door."

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This article was first published on Flourish 10 April 2011.

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