Georgia Porteous recently graduated from Kinross Wolaroi School. A boarder from Dubbo since Year 7, she was excited about boarding school for several years prior to starting. So much so, some were worried boarding may not live up to her high expectations. She looks back over the past six years of her boarding life to offer some advice to those who may be just starting out as a boarder.
I was definitely excited about going to boarding school from the time I first saw the school…it was about Year 4, I think. I remember driving up the front drive and how pretty it was. I’m an only child and I think the idea of having lots of other kids around, like one big slumber party, was pretty cool. It was also an opportunity to do things I just couldn’t do at home or even knew were possible – things like cadets and representative basketball.
Taking things to remind you of home is important when you’re packing…
The week before I started, I remember packing all week. We didn’t really know what to pack even though we had lists from the school about uniforms and the basics. My teddy bear was packed though – he travels with me everywhere.
It’s important to pack things like your own doona and pillow, photos of family and friends, a soft toy, blanket, and some technology, like an iPad or iPod.
Routines were probably the hardest things to get used to for me.
It was a bit more strict in Year 7 than I was thinking it would be. It’s a lot different from home – particularly the bit about living with other kids and sharing space. The hardest part was waking up early to catch the early bus. Year 7s now catch a later bus to start, giving them more time to get used to the morning routines.
Routines were probably the hardest things to get used to for me. Having to always be seen or accountable by someone was hard too sometimes…even if you were having a nap or a bath, you still had to be accounted for during roll calls.
…I used to get homesick at exam time or when I was sick.
I didn’t get homesick for a long time. My parents were a bit worried I was enjoying it too much! The first time I was homesick was when our dog died, and then I used to get homesick at exam time or when I was sick. I’d usually cry, but our Head of House, Aunty Deb, was great and very comforting. She’d invite us down to her flat if we couldn’t sleep at night to have a cuppa and talk for a while. Having friends around and staying busy is also helpful.
Having an adult in the house, and even senior girls, was definitely important in Year 7 and later on. They’d been through it all before, and I’d just talk to them.
I remember being told that the ‘big’ houses with the Year 8s to 12s in them were strict and scary. They’re really not because you’re used to the routines by then, and what’s expected. When the little ones come into the big boarding houses as Year 8s, there’s not many of them and with big sister/little sister type programs in place, you get to know them well. It means if you need it, you’ve got that ‘big sister’ to talk to. Having my friend’s big sister and her friends to go to definitely helped me in Year 8.
Message to my younger boarder self
Talk to everyone, especially in Year 7. Whatever year you start boarding, everyone is in the same boat – no one knows anyone. Just talk to everyone and you’ll eventually find your people.