Arabella Adams commenced as a boarder at St Catherine’s in Year 10, 2010 and completed Year 12 in 2012. Originally from regional Victoria and now studying in Melbourne, Arabella shares with us some of her highlights as a boarder at St Catherine’s.
Do you have advice for girls who may be commencing as a new boarder?
Becoming a border offered me a whole new perspective on schooling that only the luckiest of students are able to explore. As daunting as my first experiencing of boarding seemed, I was greeted by many friendly faces and approachable people that made me feel immediately welcome. Boarding is a great way to become independent and makes your confidence thrive. As a new boarder, one needs to be open to the routine of the boarding house, including the social lifestyle and the freedom. Be prepared to meet interesting people and build friendships that last a lifetime. Boarding is a whole new world, but a new world that becomes full of friendships, warmth and memories. It becomes your home away from home.
Describe a typical evening in the boarding house.
The bell rings and a stampede of girls rush through the back doors of Illawarra House, to be greeted by afternoon tea. Feeling weary from a long day, the girls congregate on the couches to discuss various stories from their classes. After this afternoon debriefing, the girls disperse for some individual time before dinner. This might involve going for walks, heading down to the local shops, relaxing, reading or engaging in after School co-curricular activities. At dinner time, conversation, laughter, and the noise of knives and forks make the dining room a vibrant place. After dessert, ‘Prep’ begins and girls focus on their studies. Being surrounded by other students studying encourages commitment to one’s own work, a strength I believe can only be gained as a boarder. After Prep, the girls have free time to relax, take showers, chat, watch TV or do anything they find comforting before bed time. During this time, the girls at VCE levels usually work away in the privacy of their rooms. The evening ends with whispers and distant giggles as the lights go out. All these evening traditions help to create a warm environment to live in.
Did you participate in co-curricular activities and, if so what were some of your highlights?
Being a boarder grants you proximity to the School where you can easily access many co-curricular activities. I tried to involve myself in as many as possible in order to keep active and to challenge myself to try new things. I played Basketball, AFL, Badminton and Softball, just to name a few. Although I was a beginner in most, this was no problem as the activities offered were suitable for all abilities and made for a great social experience. In addition, we as boarders were allowed access to amenities like the swimming pool; my favourite afternoons were during summer, when I would swim laps in the cool water and receive tips on how to fix my terrible freestyle technique from the pool attendants. Another highlight of mine was being involved in Snowsports. Having the Boarding House located on School grounds allowed me to attend the morning training sessions, which helped me increase my fitness for the upcoming competitions. I only made it to House Snowsports, but this is something I never would have thought to achieve without being a boarder. As a boarder at St Catherine’s, your opportunities to embark on after-school activities are vast.
Did you take on any student leadership roles at St Catherine’s? If so, what did you enjoy about this?
My leadership role at St Catherine’s was Boarding House Co-Captain. I enjoyed every moment of this shared role, as it allowed me to be even more involved with the girls. We organised activities such as the ‘Closed Weekend’. The Closed Weekend involves all boarders spending a weekend together in the Boarding House, to bond with and learn about each other. We enjoyed a Mexican fiesta, with tacos for dinner and a piñata for dessert. The next day, we were excited to celebrate with a pool party. Being a Boarding House Captain allowed me to offer support whenever it was needed – through giving advice, helping with homework or just providing company. This was a very fulfilling role and I enjoyed every moment spent getting to know each boarder.
Life after St Catherine’s: What are you currently doing?
My life after St Catherine’s revolves around study, work and travel. In my first year at university I undertook a Bachelor of Business Marketing at RMIT. However, I decided it was something that did not really fulfil my creative needs. I then transferred to Professional Communication at RMIT, where I am thoroughly enjoying the broad range of media subjects offered. This change was something I could undertake due only to my ability to challenge myself – a skill derived from my time in the Boarding House. When not at university, I work at Thomas Dux Grocer, where I get to socialise with customers and explore my secret passion for food. Post-School, I have travelled between America and Australia. Seeing the world is something that I always intended to do, most likely provoked by living my schooling years with girls from all different cultures. I realised how small the world really is when I was given the opportunity to catch up with a past boarder at an all-American Ice Hockey game in Boston! I think this is a reflection on the sorts of friendships that are formed during your time living at boarding school, and how they are valued beyond one’s schooling years.