Windsor, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Not many 15-year-olds can say they live at school, but I can.
In the small Connecticut town of Windsor, the Loomis Chaffee School where I spend nine months out of the year has developed into my hometown.
Although this space of 300 acres just outside of Hartford may seem small, it is home to some of the most diverse and interesting people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. My peers hail from more than 40 countries and 30 states across every corner around the world, from different religions, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds.
I live with 40 of my closest friends in an 81-year-old red brick dorm. I share my room on the third floor with a roommate and a two-shower bathroom with 20 girls.
On the first floor of our dorm is a fully equipped kitchen, where I experiment with recipes my eastern European family sends me. In a spacious common room with a TV and couches, on Saturday night, our dorm’s residents get together to watch an old ‘90s movie and bond.
Surrounding my home are two other dorms, our school’s language building, and the dining hall. In the dining hall, students gather not just to eat, but to meet new people and socialize. I can sit down with any random stranger and commiserate over the crazy workload at Loomis or share what is going on in our lives.
Being able to live at school has allowed me to fit more in my schedule than many people are able to in a week. I start my day by going to the gym in the morning, if I am able to crawl out of bed. Then I go to breakfast and on to a full day of classes and meetings, before heading for ballet practice. Later, there’s dinner, club meetings and study hall, when I will usually meet with one of my teachers – who also live in my dorm – before finally going to sleep.
On a Friday night, I usually watch a sports game in our school’s gymnasium or hockey rink, then go to the student center. Inside the two-story-tall building in the middle of campus is an array of couches and ping pong tables. I warm up there by sipping on a steaming cup of hot chocolate while lounging on a sofa, surrounded by my friends and paintings of the old heads of school.
Bordering my school’s campus are woods with running trails and a small town that my friends and I like to explore. We even have a small local coffee shop where you can always find a group of students studying on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Across from the coffee shop is a cozy Thai restaurant where the owners know the students by name and their orders. On the way back from town, I walk along the road that snakes through the woods and by a pond before reaching school.
My hometown is breathtaking during all seasons. In the fall, students get to experience the bright colors of New England foliage, and in the winter, the peaceful snowfall blanketing the campus in a flurry of white.
When spring breaks through, something peculiar happens.
Loomis Chaffee is near where the Farmington River empties into the larger Connecticut River. During the spring, the water melting from the mountains floods the campus, largely turning it into an island for a week, except for the bridge connecting us to the outside world.
As spring turns to summer and the students return home, bees from our school’s hives wander lazily around campus, enjoying the flowers in full bloom.
Even though I live at school, my life is not tied down to it. Loomis Chaffee prides itself on always connecting the school to the real world. Sometimes we take trips to New York City to watch an opera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or visit an investment banking office on Wall Street as part of an economics class.
I can’t imagine any place in the world where I could have as many opportunities to study whatever I want in high school or have such a worldly influence on my life from others around me.
My home offers a diverse group of people and cultures that I will always call my second home.
Lauren Volkodav is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.