One of my first impressions after my first week in France was oddly enough entirely boarding school related. About 70 students from various US schools also arrived in Rennes, France to experience this amazing year long adventure. As I met more and more classmates, I grew increasingly more shocked by the amount of boarding schools students sharing this journey—and not only that, but how much we had in common. It seemed every other person I knew came from a school, which also requires a slightly longer explanation to people who think boarding schools are only “reformatory schools.” This similarity immediately provided me and whatever stranger I was meeting with ample topics of conversation and shared boarding school experiences we could bond over. The more we talked, the more mutual friends I discovered and people who knew the names of our various schools and shared similar interests. It was amazing to see so many people who had had the passion to move away for high school and who also followed their passion for traveling to France.
In fact, this pattern is nothing new. The more places I travel and programs I attend, the more I learn that boarding school students have a knack for traveling and independent growth. Not to say I haven’t met some amazing people who attend “day schools,” but I’ve discovered a clear pattern that most boarding school students also have an impressive amount of maturity and confidence for their age. I do believe forcing yourself to live somewhat on your own when you’re young creates something in a teenager which cannot be replicated. It’s this sense of urgency to grow into your own identity and assert your independence.
After the first few days passed, a boarding school community began to arise. We all bonded over our similarities and discovered more mutual friends. We reveled in the fact that we already had learned to do our own laundry and how packing a suitcase full of clothes for a year was a piece of cake. As I arrived in Rennes, alone and quite honestly friendless, it was wonderful to have this a immediate connection to such a great group of students. I was so thankful I had this common thing to bond over and felt as if I were already expanding my french family tree. Boarding school clearly does not stop when you receive your diploma. As you move on to college, grad school, and future jobs, the boarding school family tree grows, and it’s one of the easiest things to use as a foundation for a lasting relationship.