Boarding School Nostalgia
I woke up today feeling extremely nostalgic about my boarding school days, so I felt like sharing it with you guys. Most of my teenage years I went to a boarding school in Denmark. When I tell people that I immediately sense that they somehow feel sorry for me, as if I was sent to boarding school as a punishment. My experience with boarding school was quite the opposite.
My brother started at Herlufsholm Kostskole in Denmark, at the age of 14 as he wanted to live in Denmark and we were still living in Brazil at the time. From that day I begged my mom to enroll me at the school as well, although I still had a few years to go before turning 12 and being in the 6th grade, which is the lowest grade at Herlufsholm.
She tried to push it another year or two, but I would beg so much that she finally gave in. In February 2000 at the age of 12 we made the one-hour drive down to Næstved from Copenhagen. As we entered the grounds and drove over the little bridge to cross the creek, I could see the old red-brick buildings on a landscape of snow-capped rolling hills and my heart was about to explode of excitement. I had been trying on the uniform every day for weeks, making sure it was perfect and I had even ironed it myself.
The school just celebrated the 450-year anniversary this past weekend, so for 450 years students have walked those hallways and slept in those same large rooms that were our dormitories as well. To me that is just a magical and extraordinary thought and feeling. In the hallways there are pictures of every graduate class since they founded the school in 1565, the first class consisting of three students and mine of 102 and another 7 classes that have graduated since. We always had fun finding parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents, some families have a whole lineage of Helufsholm graduates through the generations.
The buildings have so many stories lying within the walls; of monks, naughty students, mischievous maids and even ghosts and much more as the school has withheld through the years, even going through several wars. There is even a hidden tunnel from the church cellar in to town, but it has been blocked as it is not safe to use. Some of the buildings date back to the 1200’s and have so much history and one great thing that comes with history is tradition. At Herlfusholm we had so many traditions, everything from our own language to the way of serving dinner and our many celebrations throughout the year, where boys would wear tuxedos and girls would be in ball-gowns, at an age of 12 I felt like a princess, still do every time we have a Herlufsholm ball to go to and we dance Les Lanciers.
The uniform is also a tradition passed down through the generations with only slight changes made over the years. Dark grey and dark blue are the colors to be worn and a light-blue button-down shirt with the school crest on the left breast pocket. The senior students can opt for white trousers or a long pleated skirt for girls and there are hats as well. Anyone who sees this uniform for the first time thinks it is ridiculous, but for us it was amazing, it was special and sort of a status symbol. I think I wore my white trousers or skirt most of my senior year.
One of my favorite things about boarding school was the fact that we slept in dorms. Yes we slept 20 girls in one large room, our beds in two rows, which we at night would push together for ghost stories and late night gossip sessions. Most people forget to think of one detail when regarding boarding schools; you live every minute of your life right next to your best friends, so obviously as a teenager that is awesome.
Of course there was the occasional catfight because someone had borrowed someone else’s dress without asking or even worse they had borrowed someone’s boyfriend! But we managed to solve our problems, sometimes with help but mostly on our own, so from a young age we were trained problem-solvers. We learned discipline and that rules are to be followed (or slightly bent at times) but most importantly we learned great values of friendship and camaraderie and the importance of keeping a promise and working together as a team. I am not sure if this is something that just comes naturally at boarding schools, but I definitely see it in other boarding school kids as well.
The greatest part about being a boarding school kid is being part of an awesome community, like a great big family and the friendships made in boarding school are for life. Now, 7 years after I graduated when I randomly meet people from Herlufsholm we immediately click and reminisce about the good old days at boarding school, where all we had to worry about was not getting caught smoking cigarettes in the woods. We have school reunions several times a year, official ones at the school we all love and unofficial ones at our favorite bar in Copenhagen. The community is just as strong after leaving the school, us Herlovianere (as students are called in the internal language of the school) can ask each other for help and advice even though we might not have seen each other for years. When I moved to Dubai I had a fellow Herlovianer friend there, although we hardly knew each other before, she took me in and was a true friend and now we are very close.
Conclusion: in my opinion boarding school was the best thing that ever happened to me and I look back on those 7 lovely years with a smile on my face and a nostalgic feeling inside, wishing I could go back and relive it all, even if just for a moment.
What are your thoughts on boarding schools? Let me know in the comments field below.