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Renua, Year 12 Boarding Pupil from Nigeria

I started boarding at 15 because my family moved from Nigeria and I had always wanted to go to boarding school. As a child, I had heard many stories from my mum about English boarding schools. I wanted the chance to be free and independent; to make my own choices. Boarding helps you do that – it allows you to grow in ways you may not even realise. You find yourself becoming more mature as you learn from people around you. And if you’re in a school like mine where we’re blessed with excellent teachers who encourage you to take part and improve yourself, you grow even more.

The students are from all over the world and I didn’t know how easily we would become friends, even family now. A phrase we’ve used to describe ourselves a lot is ‘We started as strangers and we’ve ended up as family’. We’ve really gelled as a student body and it’s mainly because of boarding. It’s also because we have a fantastic housemaster – who is always there to help us. He cares for us and listens in times of need. He’s a true gentleman with a heart of gold.

I was able to learn about cultures I probably wouldn’t have known about by just staying in my school in Lagos. That’s what boarding school does. It pushes you out of your comfort zone as you have to make the decisions which determine your life; nobody else can make them for you. We learn something new every single day, even new languages.

I take the science subjects and I always have. In my last school I didn’t value the creative arts but in this school I was encouraged to venture out and do activities connected to subjects I would never usually do. The teachers helped us to be brave and to take chances.

At the weekends, we sometimes go in to London and on school trips we‘ve been to the Supreme Court, The Houses of Parliament and even Tower Bridge. My favourite Saturday activity is cooking with our teachers. We once dedicated a morning to baking cupcakes for the elderly and then we took them for tea and played games with them. That is one outing I’ll never forget.

I’m so glad I came to this boarding school; I’ve made friends and memories that I’ll always cherish. It’s a special kind of bond that cannot be replicated or replaced.