Leaving the comfort and security of home to board in Sydney takes courage. For Year 9 Kambala boarders, Cleo Baldwin from Young, Annabel Brooker from Harden, Isabella O’Brien from Burren Junction, and Olivia Gill from Merriwa, boarding hasn’t been without its challenges. But the girls have faced their challenges head-on with the support of their boarding sisters and the tightknit Kambala boarding community.
All of the girls started at Kambala in Year 7. They reflect on how they’ve become more independent, developed their resilience, and come to thrive in a boarding environment.
What were your expectations of Boarding at Kambala before you arrived?
Cleo: I expected to be in a good year group of boarders who would become my friends and be there for me whenever I am sad, homesick or in a bad situation. I also expected my friends to always make me laugh and to make heaps of memories with them that I will remember for life.
Annabel: I was excited to become a Kambala boarder. I was looking forward to meeting new friends and moving to the city. I was expecting it to be challenging living away from home, but I also knew it was a great opportunity, so I was very excited.
Isabella: I expected boarding to be a community of girls who were all close and supported each other.
Olivia: My expectation for boarding was for new experiences and to meet new people.
And two years down the track, have those expectations been met?
Annabel: It wasn’t as challenging as I thought because everyone here is so kind. The boarding staff helped us settle in and we all became friends so quickly. We were involved in so many activities in the boarding house such as Friday night games and playing touch on the oval. This made my transition into boarding really smooth as we were kept busy.
What have been the biggest challenges for you undertaking your schooling away from home?
Cleo: The biggest challenge is being away from home and family. I live on a farm in Young where we breed sheep and crop. I’ve three dogs and we also have chickens, guinea fowl, a rabbit, a poddy lamb and a cat. I love being at home and spending time with my family. I’m always used to mum and dad helping me with my work at home, but since starting at Kambala I have learned to become resilient, more independent and to do things for myself.
Annabel: The biggest challenge that I have faced doing my schooling away from home is leaving my family, friends, home, pets and the farm as I miss them a lot.
Isabella: Just being away from everyone in my family and away from my pets and animals has been really hard.
Who do you talk to when you’re feeling homesick?
Cleo: I talk about it with my family and friends — they support me through everything. No matter what is wrong I know they will always be there for me and help me whenever I need it.
Annabel: Even in Year 9 I still talk to my boarding friends about missing home. We understand each other because we have gone through the same thing. Usually, we all end up laughing and having fun and that’s how we get over the challenges.
Isabella: With our boarding sisters, we can all relate to what everyone is going through, as everyone goes through the same type of stuff at some stage.
How does Kambala support you when things are tough?
Annabel: The boarding staff are so supportive and help us when things are tough. They know how to keep us busy. They are experienced, caring and professional at what they do.
Olivia: They have very understanding teachers and boarding supervisors.
Do you think the boarding ‘sisterhood’ and relationships you’ve formed as a Kambala boarder have helped you build resilience?
Annabel: I think that being a Kambala boarder has helped me build resilience. The Kambala boarding community is very close which helps us cope with our ups and downs. We are constantly challenging ourselves and the best thing about it is having our friends living with us to support us along the way.
How do you think what you’ve learned about resilience will help you after school?
Annabel: I know that everything in life is not perfect and there are challenges along the way. Boarding school facilitates independence which will make the transition to life after school easier.
What advice do you have for others thinking about boarding but worried about leaving home?
Cleo: Boarding school is so much fun and at the moment it might not feel like it’s worth it, but I know in the future it will definitely impact my life with the friends I make and the things I learn. Also, the sport here is incredible! At home, the only sports we could play was rugby which is the sport I love, but now I’m at Kambala there is such a wide range of sports I can play and I can try sports I have never played before.
Annabel: There is absolutely nothing to worry about because you will make friends and adapt to boarding life very quickly. Kambala has made it a very smooth and easy transition for me.
Isabella: Don’t worry because everyone around you will be going through the same thing and you will form really great friendships. There are so many girls around you who are there to help and make you feel better.
Overlooking the picturesque Sydney
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