By DOLLY PALEK
I LEARNT to be independent at boarding school. It was one of the most valuable lessons I learnt during my four years at Marianville Secondary as a boarder.
I still cannot forget that short period of my young life when I had to leave my parents and home for the first time and live on my own.
I still remember the day my parents dropped me off at Marianville.
Struggling to fight back the tears as Mum let go of her warm embrace around me and got into the car.
As I stood there watching the car fade into the distance, I realised that this would be the longest week of my life without my parents.
The car parks and driveway were packed with parents and guardians coming to drop off their daughters.
Girls along with their boarding bags, beds, buckets, pillows, suitcases and other essentials needed for the year ahead were seated at the assembly area.
Others were walking down the stairs with all their luggage.
It was the first Sunday at boarding and every grade 9 student was either excited, scared or anxiously awaiting to experience what it would be like to be boarders at Marianville Secondary School.
I was one of the excited ones but nothing at that time could compare to what awaited me on the first night.
After the bag checks, roll calls and announcements were made, we were allocated our rooms. It was well organised and everyone seemed friendly.
After the room allocation, the duty teacher gave us time to have dinner. And by 8.45pm, we all headed up into the dormitories for the night-our first night in a dormitory in a boarding school.
The lights went out at 9.15pm and that was when reality started to kick in. All the excitement in me died. All I could think about was my Mum and how this would be the first night and week without her. Mind you, there was a no-phone policy then so I had no way of communicating with her.
Curled up in bed staring at the ceiling, I started to feel lonely and sad.
Eventually I could not hold back the tears. I hugged my pillow so tight and cried myself to sleep that night. It was tough. But later as I settled down, I began to enjoy life there, the friends and bonds made, the camaraderie among my new adopted family. Marianville to me was a place where strangers became sisters and that feeling of sisterhood lasted a lifetime.
I am proud to have called it my home away from home and I am profoundly blessed to have been a part of it, and will always be a part of Marianville.
Looking back now, Marianville taught me a lot of values over the four years there. As mentioned, one of those values is to learn to be independent.
I also learnt to be conscious of time and be modest in the things that I do and say.
For that I am grateful to my teachers at Marianville Secondary School for building me into the young woman that I am today.
When I went for studies at Divine Word University in 2015, it was a bit easier to say goodbye to my parents because I had already experienced being away from them during my time at Marianville.
The four years had helped mould me to be independent, to learn to survive on my own. It was a period of my life I will always treasure.
By DOLLY PALEK