Oaklands student thrives at boarding school
For Caitlin Nixon, starting high school this year was a bigger adjustment than most. She traded the sound of the sheep on the family farm for the laughter of the girls at the Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) boarding house.
Growing up in Oaklands, the bustle of Kew in Melbourne’s inner suburbs was an exciting change of scenery.
“It’s very different here. Before, we were a 15-minute drive from the nearest town, and now I can walk down the street and pick up what I need,” says Caitlin.
As a boarder, the usual worries associated with the start of grade 7, such as making friends and adjusting to different teachers, are also faced with the challenge of being away from family for the first time. Caitlin felt a mix of emotions on her first night.
“The first night, I felt nervous but excited. My roommate and I planned to wake up early in the morning to make sure we weren’t late for our first class.
“My primary school was really small – there were only 40 children. I was afraid of having trouble making friends in a big school because when it’s smaller, you have to meet everyone. But when you get on board, it’s really easy to make friends. We all have roommates and we do fun things like movie nights and “family” dinners.
Six months later, and there’s nowhere else Caitlin would rather be.
“At the beginning, I missed the house a lot, even if it was easier to settle down with my older sister who was already a boarder here. I still sometimes feel homesick, but I love boarding and meeting so many new friends,” says Caitlin.
“It’s also not as hectic without the boys – they used to misbehave in class and made it hard to get anything done.”
MLC offers a wide range of learning, co-curricular and wellness opportunities to meet the interests of each student. Caitlin is taking full advantage of what is on offer as part of boarding school life.
“On Friday nights we watch movies with the other girls. My favorite movie so far was Encanto – afterwards it was like karaoke with everyone singing the songs,” she says.
“A few days a week, a team comes to help us with our homework. Having a little more schedule makes high school easier.
“I also play on two different netball teams, usually as Goal Defense or Wing Defense. It’s really good to play in two teams because it means I can make more friends. Practices mostly take place before school, which is easier for me at boarding school – I have a decent amount of time to prepare without having to get up too early.
All MLC residents live together at Tiddeman House on the Kew campus, where an exceptional culture of care is cultivated. MLC residents develop the skills and knowledge they need to meet challenges and seize opportunities in school and in life.
Caitlin is one of a growing number of pupils starting secondary school in boarding school with the Australian Bureau of Census Statistics showing a nationwide resurgence.
The 2022 census shows that the number of boarding schools in grade 7 has increased by 24% this year (from 1,925 in 2021 to 2,309 in 2022).