Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Boarding schools

Boarding schools seem to be a hotly debated issue in the UK with everyone having an opinion of them...some people love them, saying it is the best place for children to learn independence. Others detest them, saying it is just plain wrong to send children away that young. Most people seem to be fascinated by them because, unless you have been to one, you don't really know what it is like. It is this little bubble of mystery where no one really knows what is going on inside.

Unless of course you are on the inside. Which I happen to be. Or I was just under 3 years ago. In 2010 I graduated from Christ's Hospital, a boarding school in Horsham where I boarded from the ages of 11-18. Whenever I mention it at university (which I do quite often as it is the most interesting thing about me, I am sure) I am always met with a zillion interested questions. The first one always always being 'Did you like it?' And this is closely followed by 'Were you homesick?' And the answers are YES and yes. Boarding school was the craziest, funniest, best, most stressful time of my childhood. Yes, I was homesick particularly in the first two years but I have some really great memories there. Because you are around your friends 24/7 you become so close, that they are almost like family and my housemisstress definitely felt like a second mum to me. My best friend, who I met on my first day of school and who I shared with a number of times over the years, is now like a sister to me. She literally knows everything about me, unluckily for her, and probably knows me better than my own parents.

Which leads me on to the next question that I am often asked...'did it affect your relationships with your own family?' And yes, I would say that it does to some extent, especially your parents. For some, it actually allows them to be closer as they miss them and appreciate them more. This was certainly the case for me but it also does put a certain distance between you. They are not there all the time while you are growing up and it does lead you to become independent very quickly, so you don't rely on them as much. I don't think this is a bad thing, you just grow up more quickly.

I went back there the other day for the first time in a while, to drop my little sister off at the beginning of her new term. And it made me realise that CH still means a lot more to me than I thought. It was my home for seven years and I had experiences there that I will never forget. It wasn't all plain sailing but it was awesome and I would never want to change any of it because it made me the person I am today. And a piece of me will remain there forever.

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