My tween years in boarding school

Hi everyone, here is this month’s personal post. It’s all about the major change in my own life I experienced when I was a tween. I’m not sure if I had mentioned it before, but I spent the equivalent of middle school in a boarding school in England. I know, it sounds different than what you think though. Have a read below for the whole story…

image of scrapbook page. four photos in roughly four corners. top photo of girl on ground with white jumper and jeans. top right image of group of uniformed girls with elderly lady. bottom right large group of girls. left photo image of smaller group of girls smiling. torn pieces of yellow paper with typed up short text. main title at top reads At Boarding school Farringtons 1989 - 1991.
Memories from my boarding school years…

Well, way back in the late 1980’s, I turned thirteen and finished primary school with some pretty high scores. You could call me a sort of nerd if you want, I don’t mind. Back then, the town I grew up in Zambia didn’t have a secondary or high school so my parents decided to send me to a boarding school in England. A few of their friends had sent their daughters already and I soon followed in their footsteps. Thinking about it now, it felt as if my whole world had changed overnight but I knew it would change for the better!!

Homesickness, you say? Yes, I did suffer from that. But I get ahead of myself. Buying clothes, uniforms, new jeans, stationery for school, shoes, backpacks along with a myriad of other stuff made the whole thing a bit exciting. So in those first few weeks leading up to leaving Zambia, knowing that I would be leaving my family didn’t factor into my mind. I had two different types of uniforms; a casual one for lessons and a formal one for special events. Oh… I forgot to mention, the boarding school I went to at the time was an all-girls school called Farringtons. 

I’d like to think I settled in okay, but in reality I was terrified!! At that point in my life I hadn’t read Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton so I had no point of reference. (To be honest I discovered this series while I was in boarding school!!) Just to let you know, it wasn’t like Mallory Towers with midnight feasts and mysteries, more like a stern housemistress, endless chores, and friendship dramas. There might have been a few scandals which got blown out of proportion, a fire-related incident from a burnt out toaster that brought a fire truck in the wee hours of the morning, and a handful of fights!! Not ones I was involved in, I was a good student. I tried my best at classes. Math was the hardest for me. I enjoyed art, science, and my music lessons. I do remember my piano teacher fondly. I even played a piece for a talent show my year had!! 

image of girl in white sweater and glasses seated playing a grand piano. dark brown background.
Performing at the talent show…

We’d have to go on field trips for history and I remember visiting Hever Castle and being told of Anne Boleyn’s ghost who roamed the rooms. Mind you, I didn’t go to the Tower of London which would have many other ghosts roaming around!! Weekends were the best when we’d be allowed to visit the local village and go shopping, or were taken to movies and country fairs. It sounds quite idyllic doesn’t it? I guess, in retrospect it was, sort of. I was one of the few brown faces and did feel some slight apprehension from some people. 

photo of group of girls outside posing for informal photograph. yellow paper at top reads Third Year Boarders 1990 - 91.
Girls in my year…

The group of friends I made were never like that though. I think it was mostly a few grown ups who were like that. My best friend, also my roommate, was a lovely girl from Bangladesh. We were inseparable and did most things together. My gang were a mixture from all corners of the globe, and we had a few adventures together – of the tame variety!! 

Whenever I mention my boarding school years, many people ask about daily life and if I missed my family. Yes, I did miss my family. Especially my younger siblings who were quite small. It’s funny thinking about it now; they used to annoy me so much but when they were not in my life,  I missed them terribly. Phone calls to my parents were short so it was letters that were my main method of communication. Although boarding away from your family at that age would have been quite an adjustment for anyone, I think it helped mould a bit of my personality today. I’m a stickler for routine thanks to those years, and I’d like to think my organisational skills stem from that time in my life. 

I don’t think I could ever forget that time in my life. I learned quite a bit about the world, made some friends and lasting memories, and realised I could adjust to anything life throws at me. Some people are known to question my parents’ decision to both place me there and get me to leave before I could sit the GCSE exams; to them I say I received an International Level education from not just the schools but from the experience too!!

So there you have a personal account from my life as a tween. I hope you enjoyed that short snippet.

Stay safe and keep reading

Miss Mahee

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