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When Boarding School Students Return Home

Summer break is around the corner and excitement is building on campus for the upcoming three months where students will disperse from campus and integrate back into their respective communities.  From one small Massachusetts town, Deerfield’s student body will sprawl into 42 states and 37 countries, as the school’s diverse community heads home. However,  for many students, summer means the re-immersion into one’s hometown and family. Finding one’s place amongst old friends, parents, and siblings after spending several months at school can prove difficult for many.

“I’m excited to see my family, but it will take some time getting used to them.,” Nick Leone ‘17 said. “I’ve been living without them for about a year now and being separated has made me more comfortable being without my family.”

“Although I miss my parents at school, when I’m with them during breaks they get annoying,” Rachel Yao ’16 commented. “After a year of independence, I have to get used to them being protective of me all the time and wanting to know what I’m up to every second.”

“Being at Deerfield, you’re making decisions for yourself but when you go back home, you have to consider everyone else as well,” Yasmine Deswandhy ’16, a student from Indonesia, added. “At school, I take care and think for myself but at home, I think about what my parents and siblings want to do. My actions are influenced by what my family does.”

One of the greatest challenges for some students is preserving friendships back home. Madison Lyford ’15 expressed, “It’s hard to reconnect with old friends and just as I re-establish the bond with them during the summer, I have to leave all over again.”

“I feel like I’ve been replaced, and [my friends’] lives are moving on without me,” Alexandra Hrabchak ’15 agreed. “Every summer since leaving my old school has become more difficult because time passes and it’s easier to grow apart from people back home. I have two sets of friends now: those from school, and those from home.”

At Deerfield, students are consistently surrounded by friends and peers; boarding students, especially, have to readjust to a quieter, calmer lifestyle over the summer.

“Over the summer I try my best to stay in touch with all my friends. It can be hard, however, because many of my friends from Deerfield live in different states and countries,” Catherine Fleming ’15 added.

“Most of my friends from school are really busy over the summer, either abroad or working. I spend most of my summer at camp with no phone or internet,which makes it hard to stay in touch,” Eileen Russell ’15 commented.

“Back at home, I’m not very interactive. I wake up a lot later than usual and don’t really talk to people other than my family,” Libby Wenners ’17 said.

Faculty kids struggle to adapt to the empty campus after months of being surrounded by over 600 peers.  “Usually the faculty students are around during the beginning of summer break and around August,” Sarah Dancer ’16 explained. “The first week after school ends, when the Greer and dining hall aren’t open anymore, you get the sense that Deerfield is like a ghost town.”

Deerfield is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, with its constant load of assessments, assignments, co-curricular and extracurricular activities; free time is very limited while at school. However, many students agree that the long summer break elicits a drastic break from this and offers time to rest and be at ease.

“I will have a lot more free time while I’m at home this summer as well as more room to decide my schedule,” Bri’ana Odom ’15 commented.

“I’m not going to be as busy and frantic in Hong Kong as I was during the school year at Deerfield. The weekends will feel longer than normal,” Valeria Ma ’17 mentioned. “I won’t have to worry about exams and think about any essays or projects due.”

“Everything will feel slower regardless of any summer plans because Deerfield is so fast paced. That’s something that I’ll have to get used to when I go back home,” Perry Hamm ’17 replied.

For Deerfield’s 137 international students, the change is more than that of place, but also one of culture and sometimes language.

“I will need to switch from English to Chinese. The difficulty not only lies in language but also cultural differences,” Robin Tu ’16 commented. “There are cultural differences everywhere in every aspect, most importantly, how people think and talk. In America, people are straightforward but in China, people are more indirect and polite.”

“Many students in China spend their summers attending preparatory school to get ready for the next school year. When I go back home and my friends see that I’m not attending any summer camps, they start to question me,” Botao Chen ’14 added.

“The hardest part about being an international student is that I haven’t seen my family for months. It will be weird to see my siblings suddenly so much bigger. There are many cultural differences between Hong Kong and America; food, race, population, language, etc. It’s nice to go back to this culture, since it’s home for me,” Ma ’17 expressed.

Although social media allows students to stay in touch with each other, it doesn’t create the same effect as being able to see them face to face.

“Behind the computer, there isn’t really any connection. Technology can never replace direct conversations. Messages don’t really show what you feel and mean to say so it forms a kind of a barrier in the conversation as well as in our friendship. I generally feel more distant with people online” Tu ’16 concluded.

1 Comment on When Boarding School Students Return Home

  1. Phil Doughty '66 // June 14, 2014 at 1:13 pm // Reply

    One summer between my Deerfield years, my father, Sandy (Deerfield ’28), put me to work selling Vermont Maple Syrup on my bike in my local suburb of Chicago, Winnetka. I came up with the bright idea of writing Queen Elisabeth in England to request adopting her Royal Stem, and Royal recommendation printed on the cans to help sales. No-go, of course, but nice letter of refusal! In college I went art history, not business.

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