By Maisie Samuels ’23
We can all agree that being away from home is a struggle on its own. Now throw in an intense, time consuming learning experience and you’ll find yourself at FGS. Although to some, this may seem like a nightmare, we’ll see how the Gunn staff and community make life here an easy and enjoyable adjustment. Let’s compare the opinions of new and returning Gunn students and see how their experiences so far from home may differ.
Melanie Villegas is a second year returning sophomore here at The Frederick Gunn school. She was born and raised in Bridgeport Connecticut until she started her high school adventure at boarding school. When asking Melanie what her favorite thing about life on campus is, her response was “I like that I live alone. Having my own room makes me able to still appreciate my independence and privacy”. Having your own space to recollect after a long, and sometimes draining, day is vital. When asked about what was hardest about adapting to her new life here and how she managed it, Melanie replied “When I came here I struggled with the fact people didn’t automatically understand me. I found myself having to translate my slang and realizing that there wasn’t much diversity. Over time, it became easier for me to navigate through life here as I eventually found ‘my people.’” Feeling like you don’t belong or like you’re always the odd one out is heartbreaking and learning how to deal with it on a daily basis takes strength.
As humans, we adapt over time. Time wasn’t the only thing that helped Melanie though, as advisory groups played a massive role in her life. Melanie stated that her “advisory group made everything seem easier when settling in on campus.” To have a close and personal bond with a trusted adult is so special and to be placed in a group with specific students can make the whole experience become less daunting.
During my interview with Tori Ledoux, a new postgraduate boarding student, I asked her the same questions. In response to the easiest thing about adjusting to life at FGS, she said, “I really like all of my classes so that made it easier to adapt as they were enjoyable.” Tori also stated that, “the hardest part of adjusting was the busy schedule. The first couple of days were packed, especially orientation week.” Matis Molina Ricard, a new junior day student, similarly said, “Saturday classes were a difficult adjustment for me. The days are really long and it can be very tiring.” Tori and Matis both gave the same response as to how the community at FGS helped them settle in. They said that when they had a question or concern, no matter who they asked, someone would go out of their way to make sure they found them answers.
It is plain to see what a welcoming environment The Frederick Gunn School maintains. Whilst having such an intense agenda, constituents of the school still manage to give the students their freedom and sense of belonging.