Kilkenny, IRELAND — When I was 12, I left home – I went to boarding school.
For the most part, that’s what boarding school felt like. It made me very independent. I started to realize all the unseen effort my parents exhaust to take care of me every day.
I remember in my first year, I watched everyone sob on the phone to their parents. I never really did that because I was used to not having one of my parents with me, so having neither was only a slight variation.
Since moving up in the school, I’ve noticed that for some people, the homesickness has stopped.
For others, myself included, it’s worse.
Homesickness is one thing you learn to overcome in boarding school – another is the food. I’m sure all schools that have cooked food, at least in Ireland where I live, have terrible food. I think it’s because they cook so much at one time it’s hard to get it perfect.
After three years I’m finally used to the soggy vegetables and the lumpy mash. In fact, these days I’m of the opinion that lumpy mash is the best kind.
I’m not sure what it’s like for those attending single-sex schools, but as our school is co-ed – and very against contact with the opposite sex outside of class – there tend to be some amusing situations.
The rules of where you can and can’t go seem to change with every passing teacher – you might be able to go to the bike shed at four o’clock, but you can’t at five.
This can become confusing.
The younger students, who haven’t yet won over the teachers, find this hardest as they struggle to sweet-talk teachers and staff. I’m sure they find it frustrating!
The girls’ dorms on the whole are an incredibly civilized place. No one is beaten up, and beds are rarely broken.
This is not the case in the boys’ area. If a first-year student was to accidentally stray into third-year territory, they might struggle to come out alive.
Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.
Looking over this year’s breakage forms, it seems that no more than two nights pass before a bed, a light, a door, or a window are broken.
Man, I’m glad I don’t live in there!
I found the “lights out” time a struggle to get used to. In first year when you are 12 years old, it is 9:30 p.m. You get an extra 10 minutes throughout the school till you reach fifth year when it goes from an extra 10 to 20 minutes. When you reach sixth year, it just goes to 11:30 p.m.
When I’m at home I go to bed later than that, and I still struggle at school.
But not everything about boarding school is different. When the day pupils arrive and class starts, you still get the cliques and the sniping as any other school!
Charlotte Day is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.