A life changing experience
I went to boarding school when I was ten; actually I went on my tenth birthday. Don’t feel bad for me, I enjoyed it. I still remember the September autumn I arrived, it was a Sunday. I tend to associate Sundays with corn flan, since that was THE main cuisine for Sundays. It was breezy, cold and the roads were slippery. It was an all girls, small independent school in Nigeria. I waved briskly at my family and ran off the roads- ready to tackle the new world.
The first night at school I completely changed. Being away from home was quite a shock. The second day didn’t go so well either. The bells rang at five am; I had never woken up at five am before. The first day had been all exciting but then the novelty started to wear off and I realized I was on my own- well not exactly on my own but mum and dad were not there. I fully understood why I was at boarding school; it was just because it was a place where I would learn to become a woman, a leader as well as a follower and a strong Christian. I didn’t have a problem with that; I completely understood. So there wasn’t any conflict. I was just missing home, missing the comforts of home. But as the weeks went on, I got used to it and made a new home away from home, I made a new family.
The new family
I’ve known the people there for three years. I had the best and worst time of my life with them. I met different type of personalities from all over the country. The days we spent together were exceptional. We would rush up and down the thick woods to classes, sports, dining or prep (study time). My bed was the meeting site since it had a magnificent view of the school’s main entrance with its tall fir trees and courtyard, where on Saturdays we could see everyone passing by as we watch from my bed. I remember the dances we had during social night; they were breathtaking and very relaxing.
The new principal
During my first year in boarding school, we got a new principal; she was short and wore thick-rimmed glasses. She came with a new life and made things tougher. She came with new ideas such as eating breakfast after two classes, having morning prep on Saturday, having inspections and fasting for the rest of the afternoon. She also established a new system were the entire school had to cook a meal weekly, we also had morning chores. I remember her checking our cups during breakfast to make sure we were consuming the right amount of sugar. She believed in a life full of hardship and her definition of independence was the best ability to cope in times of hardship and having fun while doing it. I know it may sound odd that kids have to put up with this form of living but in a way it can benefit people. I actually liked her and I’m thoroughly grateful for the things I learnt there. It formed my character. I remember precisely my first house chore- bathroom cleaner, I didn’t know how to do it at first but I learnt.
Learning how to be conservative was important. We saved water-only allowed to use a bucket of water to bathe; current- lights went off at 10pm and don’t come back on until 5am and recycled a lot. Most significantly we learnt to save and be conscious of how we spent money. The school came up with a system- we started spending tickets. We were given tickets worth of twenty dollars per week and were not allowed to spend more. Although it seemed pretty absurd and impossible at first, it actually made sense later on.
On going solo
I left the school at the beginning of my senior school year. My mother got a new job abroad and I moved there with her. It’s been okay, it’s been a test for the lesson I learnt in boarding school. It made me see how I act in difference- or lack a lack of organization, as it were. I’ve found my strength which is independence. I’ve built my own character and relying on anyone has not been an option for me. Boarding school was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. There is truly a light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m proud it’s made me stand out among my classmates and be who I am- a LEADER.