How Boarding School Changed My Life
The first question I’m asked when I tell a stranger that I left home at 16 to go to a boarding school is: “Oh my god, what did you do to get shipped off?!” Most people I tell about my high school experience think I live like a military school attendee...or like a character from Zoey 101. Thankfully, I’m able to say that my life at school is free of both camo fatigues and on-campus sushi bars (although I’d be lying if I said the latter wouldn’t be a great addition to our dining hall menu).
Trust me when I say that boarding school is more than these stereotypical depictions. This community is vastly different than what someone would expect from a group of 500 teenagers sharing a home. Boarding school has been a place where my opinions and thoughts have been questioned, where I’ve been pushed to better myself, and where I’ve found a home among classmates.
I wasn’t always sure that boarding school was the right choice. I stepped foot on campus in September of my sophomore year, suitcases and worries in tow, as I adjusted myself to the new world around me. The first few weeks were alien to me as I tried to get used to a world of nightly study hall, dorm chores, and room inspection.
Even after two years, I still arrive back to my dorm exhausted, sweaty, and with nagging assignment deadlines looming. But despite this hectic schedule I’ve created for myself, I’ve found happiness. The opportunities on campus are astounding, but as much as I've learned from the classes and teachers, more than anything, I’ve found happiness in the people that I meet and continue to meet every day.
The diversity of races, nationalities, sexualities, talents, and personalities at school has allowed me to understand the world outside of our little Connecticut bubble better than I did before I left New Hampshire. To go from a community that was relatively monolithic to a community where differences are celebrated has allowed me to grow into the young woman I am today. Without leaving home, I might still be living blissfully unaware of the world around me.
This isn’t to say that boarding school is perfect. The hookup culture on campus can lead to awkward run-ins in the breakfast line, and the workload can make you want to pull your hair. More than once, I’ve stayed up until ungodly hours with my fellow dormmates, all of us typing frantically as we attempt to perfect our papers.
As college looms, a slight competitive edge has emerged, along with a desire to best our peers in the classroom, on the athletic field, or on the stage. The pressure we place on our shoulders to better ourselves can be a lot and feeling “less than” is a common stressor. Despite all this, I know this place is truly something special. The hard work and late nights pay off, the tension around a crush fades, and the idea of bettering ourselves—for our own personal benefit—replaces competition.
By Blaine Stevens, 18