Tween Talk with Eugenia: Home is where(ever) you make it

Boarding school life : Eugenia Tachie Menson Can you ‘hack’ it?
Eugenia Tachie-Menson

In the coming days, many of you tweenagers will be leaving home and your family for the first time in your lives, to take up residence in secondary schools of your choice…or chosen for you by the Ghana Education Service’s Computerised School Selection and Placement System.  Anxious or nervous yet?  About the thought of going away to an unknown place?

Leaving all that you are used to – tv, tablets, internet, sumptuous homemade meals- to a more regimented, and stricter lifestyle.  What are some of the things to expect in the life known as boarding school life?  Are all those stories you have been hearing and reading about true?

The iconic trunk for boarding schools in Ghana- Photo Credit-Things for School

Before I went to boarding school, I had been reading Enid Blyton’s boarding schoolbooks, Malory Towers and St. Claire’s.  It was so, so engaging and takes you through the highs and lows of boarding school life.  Both series follow girls enjoying (and being challenged by) their time in boarding school.  The plots and twists and turns made for exciting reading and I strongly suggest you read both sets of series if you can.

Just don’t get carried away like I did, when I believed that everything that happened in both St. Clare’s and Malory Towers would actually happen in real life – to begin with, the stories are set in the United Kingdom (UK) where their norms are quite different from ours in Ghana.  However, there are great lessons I picked from there – how to make friends, how to spot fake ones, how to basically survive boarding school life.

Boarding school life can be a maze as one meanders their way through it; you are now responsible for waking up early (though there may be an ‘ear-drum splitting’ bell that will be tolled to wake you up, lol!), managing your own stash of foods, finances. Toiletries and most importantly, your time.

I was excited about going to boarding school because, for starters, I wanted my independence from my parents (or so I thought!) and also the new adventures I was looking forward to.  In my time, you stayed in boarding school for a minimum of 5 years – a lot of time to spend in a place other than your own home that you might as well call it so…’home’.  You, on the other hand, will spend just under 3 years in boarding school and that’s still a lot of time, so make the most out of it.  How do you do so, though?

Here are things I missed, and some I did well, in boarding school-

  1. Managing my resources – when I got into boarding school, I turned up my nose at the dining hall food and refused to eat it! I banked on the food in my chop box for all my daily 3 meals; within weeks I had nothing left.  My friends will also ‘help’ me finish my chop box food.  But many of them weren’t willing to share their chop box food with me now that I had finished mine, and rightly so, maybe.  They knew their chop box food was like savings for a rainy day – there may be days where for genuine reasons, you will miss a meal at the dining hall.  You will then fall back on your chop box food.  I learnt my lesson the hard way; suddenly, the dining hall food now tasted like food from one of the top hotels in the world – hunger has a way of humbling you!
  2. Social life – I threw myself right into the social activities that come with boarding life. I love to sing and dance so I joined the school choir (and by default, sharpened my spoken Ewe language) and the Drumming and Dancing club.  And my, did I have blast!!  My clubs represented our school in regional competitions and we also performed for dignitaries who come to visit us.  I met the former (and late) President of Ghana, Flt Lt. J.J. Rawlings in person during our school’s 40th anniversary celebration – he told us he enjoyed our singing, I was giddy with excitement!

It goes without saying that you need to study well in boarding school-it’s a bit more challenging at this level in the beginning, but you’ll will adjust if you put your mind to it.  Boarding school life is really a taste of what to expect in the real world; you will have good times and challenging times.  Remember, the best way out of difficulty is… to get through it! Enjoy your new home.

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