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5 Struggles You’ll Recognise If You’re a Uni Student Who Went To Boarding School

As an Army kid, I opted for boarding school in Year 8. It was a difficult transition at the time but it was surprising watching 19 year olds go through what I’d experienced as a 12 year old.

1. The excitement of finally “escaping” your parents dies down very quickly.

People do the weirdest things to celebrate their freedom from their parents – it’s actually hilarious. Without their parents’ watchful gaze, some people decide to hook up with as many people as possible, change their style, or take up a habit like smoking. Regardless of the choice, it is never a quiet affair. Essentially, they see it as a chance to rebel. Boarding school kids would have gotten this out of their system a long time ago. Students seem to forget the fact that they’ll be seeing mum and dad by Christmas, or even sooner if they need their laundry doing. It doesn’t help that there is an abundant amount of alcohol on hand at university – it only fuels this new-found rebellious freedom. Once the novelty of sticking it to their parents wears off, you’ll soon be happy to see the care packages arriving.

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2. But you have to deal with other people’s homesickness sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a monster! If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, then I’m always available. However, it’s been many years since I was homesick, so empathising with people can be a little bit more difficult. Moreover, I have years of experience – and I know that homesickness always passes! From person to person, homesickness lasts varying lengths of time, but it won’t last the whole length of someone’s degree. I also know that it doesn’t always strike at the beginning of the separation. For some people who breeze through their Freshers’ Week, the homesickness doesn’t start until weeks later when reality sets in. The real problem is that being around homesick people makes you feel homesick too, and as a result makes you feel like a little kid all over again.

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3. You may end up living with people who don’t know how to live with others.

It sounds like pretty basic stuff, but different people have very different values. You may think that cutting your toenails in the kitchen or burping at the dinner table is perfectly acceptable, but others may not. Large personalities may rub people in halls up the wrong way. Boarding school kids have already learnt the basic rules of living with a group of people: never let your fight with another student take down the entire hall. If you don’t like someone you live with, you can still be civil and respectful for the sake of the group.Living with other people requires maturity and a level of respect that not everyone at university has developed yet. By being civil with the person that you don’t get along with, you are also respecting the people that you do get along with. Everyone has to learn how to live with each other eventually, but it can be a painful process when some people don’t understand the basics.

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4. You’re so not used to having to travel to and from class.

Perhaps the best and the worst part of boarding school is that you had to live in your school. This hampers your weekend activities and means that sick days are spent in the cold infirmary. However, it also means that you don’t have wake up two hours before school to be dropped off or get public transport. You simply roll into your class – which is two floors below your boarding house – once you’re done stuffing your face with breakfast. I was glad I didn’t go to a campus university so that it didn’t feel like I was at school anymore, but having to go for a 30-minute walk or take the bus twice a day was a bit weird. Having to travel to your place of education may sound pretty obvious to some but I’m sure many of you, like myself, have missed a few lectures due to misjudging your own pace.

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5. In your heart, you know that the food you ate at boarding school wasn’t as bad as you claimed.

As the providers of other people’s children’s wellbeing, boarding schools need to make sure there can be no cause for claims of starvation. As such, every meal of every day had pre-prepared, hot, cooked food at the ready. Don’t get me wrong – my school taught me how to cook and we did get the option at weekends to make our own food, but it just wasn’t until university that I realised I hated cooking. I don’t enjoy deciding what to eat, having to make it, and waiting for it to cook. By my final year, my diet consisted of pizza and ham sandwiches. I had totally taken the availability of boarding school food, which has an unfairly bad reputation, for granted.

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