Going back to school after an amazing summer can be hard and, like many others, I have mixed feelings about starting my last year of secondary school.
This will be my fifth year at Wycombe Abbey, and I’ll be starting Upper Sixth. Wycombe Abbey is a boarding school, and it’s literally been my home away from home. But, instead of getting all sentimental about how I’m going to miss my school (I will), I want to share what it’s been like studying in Britain with my fellow YP readers who might just be about to (or have already) move here.
The last four years of my life have been great, and I can’t think of anything better I could have done with them – but I definitely didn’t start off loving my school as much as I do now.
Letters from the dorm: going to university means leaving one home behind, and creating a new home abroad
I become a student here at Wycombe Abbey when I was 13. Before that, everything I knew about boarding schools in Britain was stuff I learned from the movie Wild Child and the book series Malory Towers. Basically, not much. I thought I was super prepared – I was extremely proud of a weeklong summer camping trip I’d taken when I was little, and thought this experience would be enough to prepare me.
The first month of boarding school life was exciting: I was meeting new people, trying to memorise the locations of things, and settling into a new routine (more sleeping hours – who doesn’t love that?). The best part? Discovering that the teachers weren’t allowed to give us homework to do over the holidays! However, as I gradually became more familiar with my new school, the weather became colder and the schoolwork became more challenging. It slowly started to sink in that I wasn’t here to go on a fun summer camp, and I became very homesick.
Suddenly, everything about being in Britain became the worst thing ever. If you’ve never been to England during the winter, trust me when I say it can get very cold – especially when it starts to rain. The sun sets very early, leaving you in darkness from 5pm to 8am the next day. You go to school in darkness, and you finish school in darkness too, and it can really bring your mood down. Even sharing dorms became something I grew tired of, because I felt like I never had any privacy.
I get that homesickness can mean different things to different people, but for me, this was what it felt like. And, without sounding too cheesy or cliché about it, in my opinion the best way to overcome it is to try to see all these negative as positives.
For example, drinking hot chocolate when you’re huddled under your duvet is way nicer when you know it’s freezing outside! The darkness outside makes watching a movie on your big TV feel like you’re at the cinema. Sharing dorms with people means there’s always someone willing to listen to your problems.
I am not going to pretend that you can get over feeling homesick in a matter of days or weeks – it took me a whole year. Besides, you never truly “get over” feeling homesick. You simply learn to live happily in a foreign country, and when you get to go home, you cherish the time spent there more. So, to all those starting school in a foreign country or those who are feeling homesick right now: it’s OK. And I hope you grow to love your boarding school as much as I do now.