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What surprised me most about going to boarding school

What surprised me most about going to boarding school

I arrived at EF Academy with a heavy, zebra-striped suitcase, zero expectations about what may lay ahead and a determination to make the most of every experience. I didn’t know what the future held, but I had already decided that I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity that came my way. Little did I know, the experiences I would have during my time at the school would go beyond everything I could have imagined. Consequently, I experienced life the best way I knew how— continuously surprised by the unexpected.

Diversity of cultures and backgrounds

Coming from a small country, I was not used to being around individuals from so many different countries and backgrounds. Yet, here I was debating knowledge questions with my Romanian classmate, trying different pasta recipes with my Italian friend, wearing face masks with my Spanish roommate and learning something new about the cultures, customs, and traditions of all those around me. Inside the perimeter of EF Academy, I was friends with people from Poland, Brazil, Spain, Belgium, Japan, and many more countries— quite literally the whole world.

Every day presented something new: flamenco for Spanish Heritage Month, celebrations for Lunar New Year, and a culture fair showcasing the best bits of all the countries. Yet, during world cup season, it’s like the hunger games around here with every student cheering for their favorite players, crying over missed penalties and screaming their lungs out watching their teams win. That’s just a small taste of the sheer diversity of the different nationalities and backgrounds of the people here!

EF Academy culture

EF Academy boarding school students

Interdisciplinary IB curriculum

Let’s start with a hot take and with words I never expected to say— school can be fun. I know, I am equally shocked too. Somehow, going to economics class and analyzing protectionist policies around the world or literature class or mulling over Slaughterhouse–Five in Harkness discussions was actually intriguing and dare I say even exciting. I was learning more than I ever had, faster than I ever could. Of course, the interdisciplinary approach of the curriculum did help to not only see connections between different subjects but too also understand the world in a new way.

EF Academy boarding school students

EF Academy boarding school art

Field trips and outside learning

I found myself going on field trips on a rather frequent basis– combining theory and real-world knowledge, and also learning about new things in a fun, creative way. In Environmental Science and Societies class, I went to sustainable farms and watched how fresh, organic food was grown and in English Literature class, I was at the Gatsby Mansion walking the same steps Fitzgerald took years before. Unsurprisingly, I learned so much on these trips and made quite a few invaluable memories with my classmates.

EF Academy field trip

Field trip

Extra-curricular activities and involvement in school life

The sheer number of clubs, organizations, and opportunities available for us to get involved in was actually shocking. It did not take me long to join clubs that I was passionate about and even take leadership roles in them. I became part of the environmental club and hosted campus cleanups and organized fundraisers for local animal shelters, ocean cleanups and more. I also joined the Model United Nations club and attended conferences where I learned about international politics and diplomacy. Additionally, I participated in TedX and developed my public speaking skills and ultimately, gave a talk about “The Reality of Privilege” in front of the entire school. Yet, what took me most off guard was how passionate and dedicated my classmates were about different issues ranging from climate change to period poverty and how much they wanted to make a difference in the world.

Overall, my experience at an international boarding high school has been an unforgettable one. I have met friends from all over the world, grown as a person, and had unique experiences that have shaped the way I see the world. Is that not just the point of an education? And as my graduation date approaches, I look back not only at the highlights of the last couple of years but the small moments when my friends and I bonded over the silly, mundane things— those memories are the ones I know I will carry with me as I bid farewell.

Students at EF Academy international boarding school

Students at EF Academy international boarding school in New York