Fast-tracking tolerance & independence
Like it is for any young person starting a new school a long way from home, the year has been a mix of excitement and homesickness for Torie Burton, a Year 7 boarder at Pymble Ladies’ College in Sydney.
Staying active seems to have been the key to both enjoying the experience and getting through the rough patches. Pymble boarders are kept busy with the College’s ‘Love it’ program, including activities such as harbour walks, shopping at local markets and trips to rugby and AFL games. In the evening study program, ‘Learn it’, boarders have access to teaching staff and academic tutors to help with homework, easing the boarders into their new learning environment.
When Torie isn’t boarding, she’s roaming the wide open plains 50 kilometres north-west of Coonamble, on her family’s mixed farming property. We caught up with her at home over the Easter break to find out how the experience has been for her so far.
A new life at boarding school
What interests have you been able to pursue at school?
My interests are music and sport – netball, basketball and athletics (sprinting). I really love sprinting due to the fact I’m coached by Melinda Gainsford-Taylor. Singing in choir, dancing, and performing in different drama productions are also things I love doing. And I play the guitar and piano. In the boarding house, I enjoy listening to music and watching movies with my friends.
I spend a lot of time with girls from different parts of Australia and also girls from overseas…I can learn about their family and culture.
What’s it been like leaving home to live with other girls at boarding school? Were you prepared for it?
Leaving home to live with other girls at boarding school has been an amazing experience. Sharing with other girls is like having a 24/7 sleepover with friends. I spend a lot of time with girls from different parts of Australia and also girls from overseas. It gives me the opportunity to meet new and unique people where I can learn about their family and culture.
I wasn’t really prepared for living with a bunch of other girls as I have an older brother and no girls in the house apart from my Mum, so that’s been a challenge. Occasional weekend sleepovers with friends helped prepare me for boarding school. Some things I wasn’t looking forward to included doing my own washing…and I certainly wasn’t prepared for handing in my tech before lights out. But I guess that’s the rules and there are bucket-loads of them at school!
Working through the tough times
What kind of things have you done to help you settle into your new ‘home’ environment at school?
I’ve brought little items and objects that remind me of home placed around my room, such as a tea cup with farm animals, and photos to stick on my walls and doors. I’ve rung Mum and Dad a lot to help with homesickness. Playing the piano or guitar by myself in the quiet common room allow me to have ‘me time’ away from the other girls in the boarding house.
…I’ve found a way to overcome some challenges by writing out a timetable, managing my time, and focussing hard on school work.
What are some of the challenges you face as a boarder? How are working to overcome them?
Some challenges I’ve faced include homework or prep time, the work load, and understanding the different topics in maths…getting sick without Mum being there to look after me. I’ve been sick a few times in Term 1. Also finding time to finish homework, assessments and do my own washing. Despite this, I’ve found a way to overcome some challenges by writing out a timetable, managing my time, and focussing hard on school work.
Growing with the support of others
What’s the best thing about being a boarder? How would you describe it to someone who knows nothing or little of boarding?
The best thing about being a boarder is that there are always people there to support you and help you. The community at Pymble is so strong. When you come home from school and you’ve had a hard day, there’s always someone to greet you at the door and there is always afternoon tea waiting for you in the kitchen. You also get to go shopping with your friends, go to Rugby, AFL, and NRL footy games, and meeting new people on the many outings from school.
I believe boarding is helping me grow as a person, to be more tolerant of others, especially the girls I live with.
Do you think boarding is helping you grow as a person, or changing you in some way? If so, how?
I believe boarding is helping me grow as a person, to be more tolerant of others, especially the girls I live with. It’s helping me grow as a person as it’s teaching me how to look after myself.
Being a boarder, I have had to make my own decisions when Mum hasn’t been there to talk about problems affecting me. When I come home from school, I know to do certain jobs without being asked. I’m definitely becoming more independent.
Boarding offers opportunities
What advice would you have for someone thinking about boarding as a schooling option?
If anyone is considering boarding as a schooling option my advice would be to GO for it! It really does help with your education and gives you opportunities that can help with your career. It lets you experience a whole new world. You meet a whole new range of people who become your lifelong friends and sisters.
Talk with the staff at Pymble Ladies College at the Dubbo Boarding Schools Expo on 17 and 18 May. You’ll find them and 33 other boarding schools at the Expo to talk all things boarding. You can pre-register for the Expo here.