I went to boarding school for sixth form and the experience completely changed my life.
I went from a grammar school where people looked at you funny if you only got a B on a test to an alternative universe where your social standing was determined by the type of tie around your neck.
Boarding school taught me to be independent; I was introduced to people who I never thought in a million years I would meet, including actual princesses of other countries.
But, most of all, it taught me about pride, ambition, discipline and camaraderie that has stayed with me until this very day.
Here are 11 things you’ll know or reminisce about if you went to a boarding school.
1. Everyone called each other by their surname
There are some people who for about a year I had no idea what their first name was because of this.
Tough times if you had a surname that was hard to pronounce.
2. God help you if you missed prayers before bedtime
The guilt was almost too much to bear so you rarely did it.
Because you knew, if you got caught, either matron or one of the boarding house masters would give you an earful that you had no energy for.
3. Matron was your best friend and arch-enemy wrapped into one The original love/hate relationship.
She was like your mum away from home, gave you advice, the best hugs and sometimes, if you were good, even sweets.
But if you got on the wrong side of her all of that went out of the window.
Life was not easy if she was not on your side, so you made up with her ASAP.
4. Day students arriving in the morning was one of the highlights of the day
The fresh and boundless energy they brought.
They didn’t look as stale as we boarders, who basically never left the four walls of our prison, sorry, boarding house.
They brought tales of the outside world. OK, you had Google, but they could tell you about what was going on in the local high street.
5. House rivalry was very real
House competitions, no matter the challenge, were the most exciting points of the year.
Battle lines were drawn, cross-house friendships ceased for the duration of the competition.
Most of all for the time you were in competition, if they cut you open you would bleed your house colours.
Loyalty was everything.
6. It’s a miracle nobody died from cross-country running each year.
The treacherous muddy fields and awful weather.
I’m a netballer, but this was honestly the worst time of year for me.
I would see some people storming ahead like they actually enjoyed the rain and subsequent wet hair slapping them in the face.
I could never comprehend how almost catching pneumonia was fun and, unfortunately, compulsory.
7. The fight for the television remote
For two years I didn’t watch my beloved EastEnders because the drama of fighting for control over the television remote was not worth the hassle.
Hundreds of boarders spread across the school, the majority of whom are in the games room which has just one television.
Who could be bothered with that?
8. Who needs EastEnders when you have debating club?
Utter pantomime. Oh the drama of it.
The arguments, the persuasive rhetoric, the nail-biting public vote at the end.
Those debaters were writing Shakespeare and they didn’t even know it.
9. Apart from good grades, everyone’s aim in life was to become a prefect
You weren’t even quite sure what a prefect even did or what special powers were bestowed on them.
You just knew that the teachers treated them differently and with respect.
For that alone you were down for being one.
10. Ties determined your social standing
Forget what your parents did, what was around your neck determined who you were in school.
If you had just your basic house colour tie you were simply unambitious.
You wanted to reach the top of every field. You wanted your full house colour tie, but you also wanted a sports tie or a music tie.
11. You make friends for life.
The friends you make within the four walls of your boarding house are your friends forever. How could you possible not stay mates with someone who understands why you randomly wake up at 7.14 every morning even years later (a hang-up from morning roll-call)? Who else will understand how you can make snap judgements on people’s personalities after asking, ‘What house was he in?’ Who else was with you during all the highs, lows, trials, tribulations, breakups and makeups during one of the best times of your life? Your fellow boarder, that’s who.
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