I haven’t lived at home since I was 14

I haven’t lived at home since I was in middle school. I spent my four years of high school at a boarding school.

When most people think of boarding school, they automatically think of the Nickelodeon show Zoey 101. I can tell you that it’s not like that at all. I had the opportunity to attend boarding school for all four years of high school. I went to The Perkiomen School, which is in a small town called Pennsburg, which is about an hour to 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia. 

My high school’s population was about 375 students. It was a mix of students who lived internationally, day students (students who didn’t live on campus) and students like myself who are American but lived on campus. The campus looks like your typical college campus with dorms, a library, a bookstore, an academic building, the main building, cafeteria, athletic center and some sports fields spread throughout the campus.

A photo with some of my friends from our Graduation Photo credits: Sydnee Reddy

Attending boarding school was an idea that never crossed my mind when looking at high schools. It was the push of my family and faculty at my middle school that made me attend the school. I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to handle being on my own for the first time, especially at 14 years old. 

The main thing  I was worried about was sleeping away from home. I’d only done it once and right before I went to bed I had to call my mom to ask her to pick me up. During the first three months of my freshman year, I didn’t call my mom once, and she had to call me to make sure I was okay.

Group photo of all the senior girls that lived in my dorm my Senior year with our headmaster. The photo was for a snow day announcement. Photo credits: Sydnee Reddy

The best way I would describe boarding school is kind of like a sleep-away camp. I say that because you are somewhat on your own but you have a schedule and rules you have to follow, but you also have a lot of free time. Plus there is a lot of fun activities they offer on the weekend.

For example, my freshman year I had the chance to travel to Germany and Poland for our two-week long spring break. This was my first time out of the country and I had such a great time that the following school year I switched language classes from Chinese to German.

My sophomore year in German class. I learned the German culture and the language. I took this language for three years after I decided to switch from Chinese. Photo credits: Sydnee Reddy

My experience at Perkiomen was only fun for one reason, because of my friends. Living with the people who you have classes with and are on the same sports team with really brings people together during your four years there.

I made a really great group of friends, many of whom I still talk to everyday. For all of us, that was our first experience living on our own and we became like a family who took care of each other because it would get hard sometimes.

This photo of me and my two best friends during our last week of our senior year. We met the first week of our freshman year and have been friends since. We talk everyday even now in college. Photo credits: Sydnee Reddy

Even though I had such an amazing experience at the school, there were some downsides to it. I spent nine months out of the year away from my family so I missed a lot of family gatherings such as my Mom’s birthday. Another downside was during the summer I would become very bored because none of my friends lived in Philadelphia. They either lived in a different state or lived in another country.

My friend group posing for a photo after we threw a surprise party for someone. In the photo there are two students from Germany, one from Italy and another from South Korea. Photo credits:Sydnee Reddy

Even with the downsides of going off to boarding school, it did benefit me a lot. By having such a busy schedule everyday, I had to learn to manage my time. Between having a social life, school, sports and taking time for myself- I had to figure it out. I also figured out how to be on my own and it was very beneficial especially when I started college.

Starting college after going to boarding schools was pretty easy for me. I lived in a dorm four years prior so I knew what to expect. I planned out my days as I did in high school. I set aside two hours a night to get homework done similar to mandatory study hall I had in high school. The only thing I seemed to struggle with was making friends, but with time, I got the hang of it.

 I’m super thankful I had the chance to go to Perkiomen for four years. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, I experienced so much and for that I am going to be forever thankful. If I had the opportunity to do it all over again. I totally would.