November 14, 2008
By Danielle Nelson, Winston-Salem, NC

Wearing an adorable red, white, and blue smocked dress with a big red bow tucked in my long dark hair, I was ready for the start of my first grade year. As the car reached the curb, I instantly flung open the door and jumped out before my mother could even turn off the engine. I held her hand as we entered the school. After a big hug and a quick goodbye to my mother, I walked straight into class without looking back once. To me, it was just another adventure. Even at ten year old, when most kids are still being tucked into bed by their parents, I spent many weeks during the summer at a residential figure skating camp in Simsbury, Connecticut. Everyday, I planned out my daily schedule and private lessons at the rink beginning early in the morning until around six in the evening and before finally going to bed, I laid out my skating clothes for the next day before starting all over again. Even from the time I was a little girl, I was always very independent. I loved assuming full responsibility for both myself and my future. So when I asked my parents to go to boarding school for high school in order to be closer to a figure skating program complete with numerous rinks, they gave me their full support. After studying for the SSAT admissions test and filling out applications, boarding school here I came.

Most teens do not understand the challenges of living away from home until college and cannot wait for the full freedom that awaits them. They cannot wait for the day when their parents are no longer hovering over their shoulder checking up on them every hour and reminding them to throw their dirty clothes down the laundry chute before coming down to dinner. Yet, I have a different perspective and I now understand that nothing can ever replace the comforts of home. Before going away to school, I had even taken for granted the little occurrences of everyday life like arguing with your siblings, saying goodnight to your parents, seeing your family on a regular basis, waking up every morning in your own bedroom, coming home every night from school, and sitting down to a hot family dinner. From my experiences at boarding school, I have come to fully appreciate my family’s everlasting love and support. Whenever I was having a rough time at boarding school, I would immediately call home, knowing that they would always say the right thing to lift my spirits. Since I wasn’t spending a lot of time with my family during the week, I valued my time with them on the weekends even more. All throughout the week, I would look forward to Friday afternoon when I could give my mom or dad a huge hug as they came around the corner and picked me up right in front of my dorm. Now not even my little brother’s nightly singing concerts while I’m studying make me wish that I was still living away at school. Even though, I miss not being able to skate everyday, I understand that sometimes it’s necessary to make sacrifices and put other things first. Still, I guess that it’s a comfort to know that my transition to college life will probably be smoother due to my independent boarding school years, but for now I feel that I belong at home. Venturing off to boarding school was probably one of the most daring things that I have ever done, but it has helped to shape the person that I am today and to appreciate being a part of a family. Even without shiny red shoes, a blue gingham dress, and a little dog named Toto, I can assure you that there really is no place quite like home.

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