Meet two teens from Grand Cayman currently attending overseas boarding schools and get the real scoop on life as a boarder.
Clongowes Wood College, Ireland
John is currently in the Second Year at Clongowes. Formerly at St. Ignatius, he started at Clongowes when he was 12 years old. John is a member of Senior Choir, the Schola Church Choir, plays the saxophone in the Orchestra, plays in the front row for the Clongowes Under 15’s rugby team and is a competitive swimmer.
What is the best thing about being at boarding school? Being at Clongowes is so different from the Caribbean. There are lots more experiences here and more opportunities for learning. I found it really easy to make friends and it is great to be able to spend so much time with my friends when I’m here.
What is the hardest thing about boarding? At first I found the daily schedule a little overwhelming. It is a very busy school with lots happening every day. It can take some time to get used to the pace! I must admit that there are times when I miss my Mum, Dad and sisters.
What advice would you give a student about to start boarding school? My advice would be, just be yourself. Everyone is different so you will make really good friends. I’d also say don’t be afraid to ask for help – there are lots of people to help you out so don’t keep your questions to yourself. Finally, it’s really important to give everything a try – there is so much to do, especially new activities and sports that you might not have at home, so it is really good fun.
Did you experience any homesickness? Honestly not really. I chose to come here and I knew my parents supported me and made the right decision to allow me to come. I call my parents three to four times a week. We can email from school too but I prefer to call. If anyone is homesick in the dorms we try to comfort them and talk them through it as we all get a touch of it from time to time. It does pass though, and there are lots of people on staff to help us through it.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned at boarding school? I’ve really learned how to organise myself and how to work independently. I’ve also learned how to get on with lots of different types of people. Very importantly, I’ve learned how to enjoy playing sports in the rain!
The Vanguard School, Florida
Before Vanguard, Jaqueline attended John Gray High School. She has been at Vanguard for two years and is graduating in 2020. Jaqueline says: “Attending Vanguard has given me self-confidence in the classroom and the independence I lacked before. I received ‘Most Improved Student for 2019’ at our recent Awards Assembly”.
What is the best thing about being at boarding school? At Vanguard there are always different fun activities on and off campus; the dorm staff make a great effort to keep us busy and active. I have also had the opportunity to make new friends from around the world.
What is the hardest thing about the boarding school experience? Just missing my family and friends. The first year was the hardest to adjust to – living in a dorm and not having my usual privacy.
Did you experience any homesickness? Yes, for the first few months, but as I got busier with school activities I got over it. My parents were very supportive and we spoke every day which helped me a lot.
What advice would you give a student about to start boarding school? Don’t freak out because it gets easier! The first few months are the biggest adjustments. Think about what you want to achieve in life and work hard towards it. Try to make new friends as this will make it easier.
What is your favourite extracurricular activity and why? I have enjoyed the opportunities to do community service. One of my favourites was visiting a retirement home; I met a 93-year-old lady who I have enjoyed visiting weekly and hearing her life stories. I also enjoy swimming and am looking forward to joining the swim team next year.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned at boarding school? I have learned to continue to work hard even when it’s difficult. I’ve become more independent, I am more organised and I have learned to get on with different types of people. I’ve also learned that with effort and hard work I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.
For a Cayman Mum’s perspective on boarding school – click here.
The Special Needs Foundation of Cayman is a charitable organisation which holds both community-focused and parent support meetings, as well…