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Baker Berry in the snowy winter

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine asked me where I went to school. I proudly said I had attended one of the 18 United World College (UWC) schools around the world. Although this is a very specific response – especially at Dartmouth, where there is no one else from my high school – the person if I would talk about the experience of coming from an international boarding school all the way to Hanover. They had a friend from back home who was considering applying to Dartmouth and was looking to hear some first-hand experience on the matter.

I had never thought of the way I came from a boarding school as some sort of pipeline, but the more I talk to other friends, the more interesting this transition seems to be. For example, I had not realised how many people from my close social circle had also attended boarding schools – other UWCs even! It was somewhat of a surprise for me, honestly. But, the more I think of it, the more sense it makes. So, if you are currently sitting at your boarding room desk, trying to grapple with college applications and acceptances, this might be useful for you :)

Well, firstly, I believe it is fair to say that first-year students coming from boarding schools come carrying a lot of different and unique experiences on their baggage. For me, this was clearly seen in the way that, for so many freshmen, this is their first time living away from home – something we cannot really relate. 

Another interesting thing to notice is how boarding school alumni may seem more accustomed to the idea of sharing their personal space. Talking from my own experience, for example, I spent the last two years living in a room with three other people. Now that this number is down to only one, it is not a hard task to talk about issues we may have in the room, split up our chores, decide who is taking the trash out, change in front of someone else, etc. 

All these things, although really nice to say, do not mean that we have it any easier than other students. Adapting to Hanover and to the Dartmouth culture overall is always a process. But, for sure, students of different backgrounds will take it in different ways. So, if you are used to living away from your family, sharing your room, and to meeting people from all over the world, know that at Dartmouth you will easily find a sense of home.

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