Thoughts about Boarding School

Recently we’ve been watching tenko which was a drama series made in the late 70s about women held in a japanese prison of war camp. the last series is all about what happens immediately after they are released and how difficult they find it to live outside the camp.

this got me thinking about how being sent away to boarding school affected some of us. Before I continue I should point out that in no way do I compare boarding school with the attrocities which occurred in the prisoner of war camps, but it did displace us more than many people would realise.

In the series, one woman in particular was unable to go back to married life as it was as the camp had changed her so much. she ended up divorcing her husband.

For me, boarding school wrecked family life. I went away first at the age of six, only returning home at half term holidays and main school holidays. Suddenly I was different. Even my accent had changed because i’d been influenced by the people I was with. Later on I was very bored at home in the holidays when I was too old to want to play with my sister, as I had no friends at home. This made me into probably a very difficult teenager to live with.

As a younger child, I was faced with my sister finding it difficult when I returned from school. She lived the life of an only child and was suddenly expected to share with me when I got home. when I was upset by this, I was often reprimanded and told to think of my sister and how difficult it was for her to adjust to me being there.

As a teenager I had endless rows with my mother for being difficult. I was often met with remarks like, “You’re not at school now”, or, “I bet you don’t behave like that at school”. when I was at school, I wanted to be at home, and vice versa. I felt displaced in both environments.

As an adult after leaving college, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to go back home, or to my home area. i’d left and that was that. Now my parents and sister live close by each other but i’m 150 miles or so away. their lives are similar and interchangeable, where mine is completely different. when family problems arise, I’m not told, much as I wasn’t when I was away at school.

I’ll always be different and I suspect that I’m not alone amongst people who went away to school and left siblings at home. I left school 26 years ago but the legacy lives on and probably always will.

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About Mel Griffiths

I live and work in Nottingham, England and am blind. This blog is often centred around things that happen to me because of being blind. This is my space to write and sometimes people will disagree with what I write, but its the one place I have in which to be frank and honest. I also like to reflect on the funnier side of life from time to time.
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5 Responses to Thoughts about Boarding School

  1. fleurette67 says:

    I know exactly where you’re coming from
    Hi Mel! In spite of the fact that we’re all different, so obviously being at boarding school didn’t have exactly the same effect on me as it did for you, I know exactly where you’re coming from with this entry. Having three siblings, two of whom I got on with (and still do), I had more than one person to play with in the school holidays when I was small, but then I became more of a loner when I was at home during my teens, because, being at school more than at home, I made more friends there. Even now, the people I consider as my real friends are long-distance friends, and that’s perhaps a legacy of always making friends with people in my childhood whom I very rarely met up with when I was at home with my parents because those friends usually lived far away. My life has been lived the wrong way round really: childhood away from home, then adulthood with my parents, and there are definitely times I wish things had been different. OK, rant over, I’m outa here now, but I think boarding-school has affected all of us who went to one or more of them, hence my comment here.

  2. lulu_bear66 says:

    I Can So Relate To This!
    Gosh, Mel, I can so so relate to this! I too was at boarding school from the age of five till I was seventeen, when I was so completely emotionally screwed up that I had to leave a year early.
    At the end of my first year at Chorleywood, my Mum gave birth to a baby sister, my half-sister. Now, I was the outsider, my half brother and sister were always at home, they were a complete family and I just didn’t fit. I can’t say I wanted to be at shcool when at home, I really wanted to be at home, one of the family, not always being criticized for my weight gain, or the way I spoke, or looked, or whatever.
    It took me a year to get back some imotional balance after leaving school in 1984, but the legacy lives on to this day. I still have nightmares, flashbacks. I brought good things from school, a friend who’s been a friend since, the chance for, I believe a better education than I would have ever had if I’d been mainstreamed, but I wouldn’t go back over that part of my life for all the tea in China!

  3. Anonymous says:

    School days
    I didn’t go to boarding school, so my experience is slightly different. Me and my sister went to a day school for PS kids outside our area, so we were picked up by coach or taxi at about 8 each morning and didn’t make it home until at least 5, or sometimes later. It did mean we had a good home life, so I have a much better relationship with my parents than people who went to boarding school. But we were never one thing or the other. I didn’t have close friends at home as our school days were so long. We didn’t make the same close friendships at school that many seem to have made at boarding school. I spend far too much time with my sister as we shared a room too and it was harder to become an individual. And most of the kids down our street didn’t want to play with the “blind” kids.
    All of this left me feeling like I didn’t really fit in anywhere, and it took a long time to get over that feeling. I do have some friends who I’ve known from my school days, but I think the school experience has made it much harder for me to make lasting friendships. It didn’t help that several of my friends at school were moved to a boarding school as they lost their sight.
    They say that your school days are the best of your life, but I’m sure very few who experienced the “special” school system would agree.
    Cheers
    Val

  4. wow
    i n’t think myself or friends left new college worcester quite the way we went in. i’m going to write about my own experiences in my lj, think it’s a very good thing to make people aware of.

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