As a boarding school veteran, I know that going to school in a foreign country can be the most frightening thing in your life. Back in 2010, I was a 3rd grader attending a public school in Korea. At this point, I had no clue about school in the United States. When my parents told me, “you’re going to school in America from now on, and you will be at a boarding school,” I could not process what was going on. I did not know a word in English, nor had I lived away from my parents. I started asking myself questions: How was I going to fit in? Will I be able to survive?
Before I knew it, I found myself on a plane. All by myself, I did not have any idea where I was going. I ended up in Oregon, at a small boarding school. Unlike Blair, it was a tiny campus with one building. Everything took so much work to get used to. I did not know the language, nor did I know the culture.
The language barrier was the biggest obstacle that I faced throughout my boarding school experience. Most of the time, I felt left out of conversations. As a result of my insufficient English, I was required to take a program called English as a Second Language. It was designed to assist students in developing their fluency. However, I did not find ESL helpful when it came to social interactions. Rather, I found that staying outside your comfort zone could benefit you a lot. Although stepping out of my comfort zone was difficult without the capability to be involved in a community, the reward was always worthwhile. Through my boarding school years, I learned to be comfortable and discovered a lot more about the language and culture.
The biggest lesson that I learned from living in boarding schools is that one should never be afraid to try something new. I still struggle with being “out there,” as it always takes courage to do so. But boarding school is an easier experience when one reaches out and takes advantage of the school’s support.
(Copyright 2018 Joseph Min)