May 19, 2008

I'm Sendng You to Boarding School

Last month I read Looking for Alaska, and one of the reasons why I adored it was that it represented my high school experience more than any book I have ever read.

You see, I went to boarding school. Now usually people think one of two things when they hear this. They think delinquent or they think snob. For years the first thing I was asked when I told people about boarding school was "What did you do (to get sent there)?" It didn't occur to people that you would go to boarding school to get a great education or to explore the Great Perhaps. People then ask me about uniforms (there were none) and if it was all girls (nope- that squashes a lot of male fantasies right there.)

There were no shoulders draped with sweaters,no pipes, or tea, or other rich snobbish cliches. Unlike wisteria's friend I didn't learn about drugs at boarding school. I learned about reading, writing, and learning. About the joy of research. (What can I say? I like it.) I learned about achievement, sports, family, mentors. I learned about fulfilling dreams, living up to my potential.


This was the ceremonial entrance to the school. You did not use it unless you were late. At the top is a bell tower and just inside the doors is the rotunda. These two elements of the school were the subject of many pranks. One year they lined the whole rotunda with little cups of water and shut all the doors. Well, all the doors opened IN, so the only way to get in was to dump the water.


This was my dorm my freshman and sophomore years.
Most of the dorms were converted houses. My room my sophomore year is the that window just over the porch.
Most of the faculty lived on campus and the majority of the lower level of this house was for the dorm parent.

What did I like best? Twisting the knob on the mailbox to see a letter inside! Sitting around talking about books in my classes. Laying in the spring grass giggling with friends. Buying books, donuts, and coffee. Flying to Europe, Australia, and South America.

Want to know more? Feel free to ask me anything you like. Leave your questions in the comments.

7 comments:

  1. That actually sounds like a really fun experience! I want to hear more about your dorm that was a house. How many people lived in there? It kind of seems halfway between high school and college more freedom then living at home with your parents and going to high school but less than living on your own at college.

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  2. Hi alea. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
    In some ways it was great, there was freedom, but not more than at home. We couldn't drive off campus without permission. We had set hours to study where we had to be in our room or in the library. It was mandatory to participate in sports.

    About the dorms. The one you saw pictured had 6 double rooms and 3 single rooms. 15 girls all together. When I lived there the dorm parent was a math teacher and she lived in an apartment with her husband and dog. She had a full apartment with kitchen and bathroom and all that jazz. The students had a shared mini fridge and microwave. We had a communal bathroom with 4 sinks, 2 showers and 2 toilets.

    2 of the single rooms were reserved for older students who helped out making sure the students were following the rules. They were the equivalent to a college's RA. The third single room was just for anyone who was lucky enough to get it. Usually a sophomore. It was incredibly tiny and I loved it! There was a second bathroom for just those two older girls. They had their own little hallway with their rooms and their own bathroom.

    There were no phone in the rooms, there were two pay phone. One right inside the entry door, and one on the second floor in the middle of the hall. The one on the second floor sure wasn't private.

    Anything else?

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  3. Wow, man that sounds fun! What did you guys do on the weekends, I bet you made a lot of good friends there! Being around them a lot more than just "in class"

    Are there any boarding school books that you enjoy or display what you would consider an accurate representation similar to your experience? The only one I've read that comes to mind is Prep.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  4. alea- being in boarding school is a great way to kill boredom. My school also had day students, the majority of them were day students actually. A lot of people lived close enough to go home on the weekends so we didn't forge together as much as you might expect. I did, however, make some great friend. The school had a comity that planned outings for us to go to the movies or the mall or occasionally to Boston. There were also opportunities to go to plays and stuff if enough people signed up ahead of time. On the weekends we could sign out and go to friend's houses. We could also walk "downtown." There was a bookstore, dunkin donuts, pizza place, cumberlain farms, and a few other things. Quite a hike away was also a grocery store and a health food store. (I was a vegetarian at the time.)

    As I mentioned in my post Looking For Alaska was as close as I have ever read to my high school experience. Nothing else I have read comes even close, though I have no read the book you mentioned.

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  5. I totally forgot you said that about "Looking for Alaska" duh! Well that book has been hovering near the top of my tbr mental list so it's definitely going to stay there, plus the vlog brothers are just made of awesome!

    "Prep" is sort of a strange book, the main character isn't exactly likeable, i think it's worth a read though.

    thanks for sharing! i bet it was great having a bookstore nearby!

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  6. I had to laugh at this, I also was brought up in boarding school. In Europe this is the usual thing to do. I was in one run by Dominican nuns, for a better education...
    When I mention this here in the US this is what I get 'You where a bad girl???' with usualy a look like 'I am not your friend anylonger or what did you do?' and I am older than you. This is ignorance and I hate ignorance it hurts people, it is like gossip.

    Glad you told your story, looks like a nice place, mine was more austere due to the convent aspect.

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  7. I love your dorm house! It's fantastically charming. And I love your memories, too. Makes me nostalgic for college, which was the closest I came to boarding school. :)

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