I grew up I a small country town about 3 hours drive from Melbourne, where I now live. I always knew I’d end up in a city. I knew my small hometown wasn’t where I would live all my life, lovely as it was. An idyllic childhood.
My town had about 3000 people in it. There were 2 primary schools. The government school and the catholic. Then there were 2 high schools, again the government and the catholic. I went to the government school, for both primary school and the first 2 years of high school. My parents were both from Melbourne so we were different from most of the kids,we weren’t locals, we had no family in the area. We went to Melbourne at least once a month. Some kids had never left the area!
At the end of year 8, I was 14, I left my school and went to a school in a city, much bigger than the town I grew up in. It wasn’t Melbourne but it was still a city. It was a 2 hour drive from home, so I had to board there. Yep, I went to boarding school! It’s funny cos this now makes me feel old, like I was at school in the early 1900s. I feel like a character from an Enid Blyton book.
Still, it was fun. Fun to be away from home. Fun to be on a year-long sleepover, (for four years running!), having more freedom than the day kids. I also managed to skip the whole teenage angst thing, having annoying parents living with you (for the most part). It strengthened my character, made me more independent, taught me that I can rely on myself. I learnt a lot not only about myself, but also the nature of people in general, as well as my school work. The things we got up to, I mean there was the usual storybook stuff, the visiting friends in different year levels in different parts of the building in the dead of night, dancing outside our rooms watching for the boarding house staff to come up the stairs and than scampering back to bed, pretending to have been there and asleep the whole time, all that stuff was there.
It was also not so much fun at the same time too. I was away from home, my family and I had to make a whole lot of new friends. There were about twenty of us, so that’s twenty girls in a confined living space. I woke up with them, ate three meals a day with them, went to school with them, did homework with them, fell asleep with them. It was all about fitting in. It was all about making sure everything was right. Your clothes had to be right, you had to smell right, your room had to be clean enough to be hygienic, but messy enough to be cool. You had to be cool, nice and popular, at the same time. If you were really good at something, a sport preferably, that always helped. It couldn’t have been any other way, I mean that’s teenage girls anyway. But here, there was no escape.
Boarding school makes a nice conversation topic. Some people are fascinated, others just feel sorry for me. There’s no need for that, I’ve turned out ok. I’m happy with who I am and boarding school had a part to play in that!