Our boarders share their views on the St Mary's boarding experience.
Here at St Mary’s School, Cambridge, every boarder has a packed schedule of fun activities and projects of personal choice each day outside of lessons. The housemistresses are really supportive when someone is feeling sad or homesick. There are specific days when we have homework club after school which provides a good environment for us to work. The food is one of the main things that would cheer someone up, it is great! The school makes the food as healthy as possible, but in an entertaining way so that we don’t get bored of the food. Trips and sports activities take place most weekends. Some of our recent trips have included a day trip to London to visit the Tate Modern and another trip was to visit the Harry Potter studios! You can also go for a weekend away, recently we went to Bristol. There is a massive garden in the school, where we can relax or play sports e.g. use the outside gym equipment or play tennis, netball and many others. Each year group has a set bed time. The bedrooms are cool as they are all different shapes and sizes as it depends on the number of girls that are going to be sleeping in it. Like any home we are expected to keep our rooms clean and tidy. Security is very important and all boarders have to sign in and out.
I think boarding has been a great experience, especially for me because I am an only child and I have never lived with anyone but my parents so the change was quite interesting. The best part of boarding is that you get to live with people that are from different countries and speak different languages. I even picked up some Chinese on the way! My roommate also helps me with my Spanish as she is from Mexico. Boarding helps you plan and improve your time management and organisation. The boarding mistresses are always around to help you if you are not sure about anything though. That was really useful for me because I was in a new environment and around new people so it took a bit of time to remember all the things on the timetable and the places in the school.
We do a lot of fun activities and we have day girls come to board for the weekend which is really good. We do a lot of baking and cooking classes that were really easy and fun. I find boarding quite free and easy because I can talk to my parents and friends back home a lot because there is no time difference and I found that I made friends with the boarders and day girls within a few weeks. Through boarding I have also been to places in Europe and seen some places that I would have never considered going to before – it has definitely widened my horizons.
At times it was difficult to understand and share a room with people with different characters and preferences but we soon found we were able to get along well. I was also able to embrace one of the Mary ward characteristics which is ‘Supporting each other throughout school’! Since most of the boarders in my year don’t speak English as their first language I try to help them with their English and homework since English is my first language. In all boarding is really good and it is an experience I will never forget.
It is not always easy for people who come along to a foreign country to study. Everything is hard at the beginning. But it definitely gets better and quickly too! The process is always the interesting part, after all. We all learn new things from it.
So this has been my first year here at the school. I still remember Mrs Compain–Holt leading us around this famous city and showing us our new home. Everything was so new and striking. I remember walking around in the warm sunshine, and going into the lovely traditional shops that Cambridge has. After few days, I made my friends here. They are all really easy–going. We’ve had a really fun year filled with memories!
I was worried about my studies at the beginning. I think the most difficult problem was the different ways that teachers taught and getting used to the new words. But I quickly found that if you listened carefully and concentrated, you quickly began to understand the things you needed during the lessons. Teachers here are always supportive and so are my classmates.
Time passes quickly! Being here is now like being in my second home; it gives me a warm feeling.
I think that my experience as a boarder has made me different from others, because living in a boarding house is not something everyone would have the chance to experience. And what I have learnt from those experiences makes me outstanding.
Other than the fact that it is fun to live with your friends, I think it has been a great experience to get to know people who are different ages because people tend to only hang out with people within their age group. If I had to describe my boarding experience in three words they would be: community, social and fun.
St Mary's is a warm and welcoming community. We embrace diversity, girl power and spiritual values. I highly appreciate how the school constantly make improvements upon hearing our opinions. Boarding provides a great opportunity for us to connect with others. Students from all around the world coalesce into one big family where we overcome challenges together. Through various boarding trips and activities, we created remarkable memories that will surely last a lifetime. We learn to become independent, open-minded young women that have great communication skills with an international prospective.
If I have to summarise St Mary's boarding life in three words, they would be: empowered, exceptional and energetic.