Letters from the Dorm: Same same but different - going from boarding school in the UK to studying at University College London

Letters from the Dorm: Same same but different - going from boarding school in the UK to studying at University College London

Preparing for university abroad is easier if you have already been at a boarding school in a foreign country. You’re still nervous, but excited


There's a lot more you have to organise yourself compared to boarding school. (Model pictured not writer.)

Secondary school done? Check. Now, it’s the start of a completely new experience: university. While I’ve been told by countless people that I’m about to step into the most exciting and enjoyable stage of my life, the prospect of being taken out of my comfortable, secondary school bubble and thrown into the adult world is making me apprehensive.

Going through my to-do list and packing to go back to Britain is something I’ve been doing for the past five years, but this time it feels different. I will no longer share a dorm with five other people like I did at my boarding school, I will no longer have a nighttime curfew, I will no longer have to hand in my electronics before “lights out”.

Honestly, the idea of “lights out” simply won’t exist any more.

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This time at the end of summer, instead of gossiping about which class I was in and which teachers I got, I had much more significant issues to sort out before I started the new academic term. A dorm was no longer automatically assigned to me; I had to apply for accommodation separately. I familiarised myself with the campus layout, and considered my priorities: the cost of rent, its proximity to the campus, whether the rooms were single, shared, catered etc, and made decisions on what was most important to me.

I calculated interest rates and organised the payment schedule in instalments. I set up my student bank account, and taught myself how to manage it, reading up on how to improve my credit ratings, which was previously all unknown to me. Although this probably seems like a walk in the park for many people, and some may argue that university is still an incredibly protected environment compared to the “real world”, for me, this was a big step and gave me a lot more insight into becoming independent.

Now that I’m preparing to fly to Britain once again, I find myself feeling the same as I did when I first went there for boarding school five years ago – nervous, but certainly excited. I am making a new place my home, will meet new people, make new friends, and start a completely new stage of my life. What I keep reminding myself is this: I survived starting afresh five years ago, and have grown to love every single second of it, and I hope that this time round it will be the same.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne


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