Who, what year, where from, how long have you been boarding?
My name is Tilley Stuckey, I’m in Year 9 from Condobolin NSW and am in my third year of boarding at Ravenswood.
Boarding has exceeded my expectations.
What were your expectations of boarding before you arrived?
My expectations were that it would be a big house of sisters and that I would have the opportunity to meet new people, experience a new school community and enjoy the chance to live in the city!
Has boarding met those expectations, or not – how?
Boarding has exceeded my expectations. I now have many close friends that I get to experience the life of boarding with. The full support from tutors and my house seniors with my study is really helping me at school. I now feel like the Residential College is home, that I can be myself at all times and I find it a really comfortable and great place to live.
Coming from a small school was hard at the beginning…
What have been the biggest challenges for you undertaking your schooling away from home?
Although I don’t really suffer from homesickness, probably the hardest thing so far has been the drought. Hearing in mum and dad’s voices the stress and worry they have been under is hard but I just make sure that I really make the most of this opportunity I have here at Ravenswood. Even when it rained at home it was hard, as I had really wanted to be there to watch the farm turn green as if overnight. I miss my brother and my animals and friends from home but most of them are here in Sydney at school so I know I’m not missing out on anything at home. Coming from a small school was hard at the beginning as I was a fair way behind, but with all the support in the boarding house from tutors and my own hard work, I soon caught up.
What have things been like at home over the past year?
Things have been extremely tough for us at home for the past three years with drought. This has meant that we have not been able to grow a crop. Dad has had to feed stock daily and offload some stock to keep numbers down. It is terrible to see the land so dry and the dust storms have been really tough on mum, as it’s just horrible when they come and get completely through the house, even when we try to shut everything up. We have also had to buy water from town as there is nothing in the tanks. We haven’t spent much time with Dad as he is always busy.
…you really need to just embrace your time there and always be yourself.
What resilience strategies do you employ to thrive as a boarder?
To thrive as a boarder, I think that you really need to just embrace your time there and always be yourself. When you are down you must have the ability to pick yourself up and keep going. When you see someone else is down, you need to support them. Everyone has tough times and everyone has a different story. My advice would be to ask for help when you need it and check in with the Head of Boarding, Mrs Cumming if you have any problems.
How does the school support you when things are tough?
Mrs Cumming is amazing and is always there to talk to you, during the school day or in the Residential College in the afternoons. I feel the support from the other staff members in the Residential College is great too. I have never felt that I couldn’t ask for help. As boarders, we are made to feel a bit special at school as there are not many of us – it’s kind of nice.
Have you found something that works for you when you’re feeling down? What is that?
Ring home! We are lucky to have our phones and we can contact our parents to talk to them when we might be stressed or just a bit tired and run down. I find that keeping myself busy has really helped to keep my mind off home and doing some extra sport or a gym session always makes me feel better. There is so much on offer, you don’t have time to sit around and be miserable. I never even have time to ring home these days, as we keep ourselves so busy.
What advice would you give to others thinking about boarding but worried about leaving home?
Have an open mind and give it time. It is scary leaving home but you have to remember that all the girls starting are in the same boat. You have to think of the opportunities that you may have, that you wouldn’t have at home and really embrace being able to live in the city. Before I started, I told myself that if I hated it I could always go back home – but the thought has never crossed my mind. Leaving home has really opened my eyes and I have met some amazing friends that I would never have got to know if I had not become a boarder at Ravenswood.