Boarding students stories: meet Winnie
Winnie Wu, China
Winnie graduated from Saint Michaels last year and has since gone on to study statistics at the London School of Economics (LSE) – one of the top universities in the world. Winnie comes from China, a country which has long understood the benefits of students attending boarding schools in England. As one of the most economically and politically powerful countries in the world students like Winnie realise the importance of achieving a world class education at a young age and how obtaining a degree from a university with a great reputation can establish her place in China’s future as a world superpower.
For Chinese students, accessing the English language can often prove quite a challenge as they must begin with the basics: a completely new alphabet and a grammatical structure and lexis with no crossover with the Latin or Indo-European languages of Western Europe. At international boarding schools in England like King’s College Saint Michaels, English is taught in a way that makes it accessible for its international students. The customary focus on Linguistics and Literature taught during English classes at traditional boarding schools in the UK is replaced by IELTS and English for Academic purposes: Courses specifically designed for students like Winnie whose first language is not English.
“Before I came to boarding school in the UK I was worried about whether I could adapt to the new environment here. All my fears disappeared shortly after I arrived at Saint Michaels. The staff were all very professional during my time there and had lots of experience with dealing with international students from all over the world who might feel anxious when they first arrive. Living in the school residences meant I never felt lonely as I was able to make lots of friends by sharing culture and customs that I’d never experienced. This has to be one of the greatest benefits of coming to a boarding school in England. We were really lucky as students at Saint Michaels in the way that we didn’t need to find host families during long weekends or half terms as the school stays open all term. I know from speaking to friends who attended other boarding schools in England that they sometimes had to leave the school for a weekend because everything closed. For international students it can be quite an expensive inconvenience to find a family to stay with for a few weekends during the year.
Another thing I remember were the residential staff who worked in the boarding houses. They were always so kind and treated us like family members. Being at a boarding school in England far away from your family could get really difficult if you didn’t have loving and supportive staff around you. It was always possible to get help from them whenever you needed, at any time of the day or night.
We also had well-organised excursions every weekend which took us on visits to various places around the country. It would have been a real pity to come such a long way to study in a boarding school in the UK and not get to visit lots of cities. Every single trip was an unforgettable memory which I still look back on fondly now and when I think about it, these were probably the highlights of my time at boarding school in England.”