Jay Kim, with insight from Jack Gao
As Albert Einstein said: “time flies when you are having fun.”
Although it may be a colloquial phrase, this quote epitomizes my experience at UCC and my time spent living in the boarding community.
It was 2013 when I entered UCC as a Year 5 into the Prep School as a day student. Now as a Seatonian boarder, I will be entering my 4th year living at what has become my home away from home. My decision to become a boarder at UCC has been one of the best decisions of my life. The boarding experience has taught me numerous life lessons and nurtured me to live independently away from my family. It also allowed me to establish lifelong friendships with boys from numerous countries and varying cultural backgrounds. Lastly, the past three years living in boarding have been full of countless exuberant memories that I will cherish forever.
With the first full week of school passed, the annual boarding “New to Blue” orientation, a program which integrates veteran borders to help assimilate new borders into the community, has come to a close. Thus, as the task of surmounting the so-called “monster” of IB1 awaits me, I would like to provide some advice I have gained through my time at the College to aid the 30 new members in the boarding community. Through my experiences of spending the past few years living with three new-boy roommates from vastly dissimilar cultural backgrounds, I derived a few tips to help the new boarders enjoy their first few months in their new home. I hope these tips reduce any homesickness new boys may feel while helping them take full advantage of their experience at the College.
My first advice to the new boarders would be to consistently ask questions to the veterans about anything regarding UCC. Although the purpose of the “New to Blue” orientation is to eradicate any ambiguity regarding life at UCC, it is impossible for new boarders to comprehend everything due to the overwhelming and hectic nature of the brief orientation program. Even with the consistent emphasis of the various extra-curricular opportunities throughout the orientation, too often I have seen new boarders stuck in their rooms throughout the early stages of their time at UCC just because they are uninformed and unaware of the sports teams, clubs, arts, and other opportunities at UCC. Additionally, their lack of knowledge it often not mitigated due to their shyness and fear in asking questions they have. I’d like to tell the new boys that they shouldn’t be fearful of the veterans. Every single veteran throughout the boarding community are aware of the feelings of new boys living away from home for the first time. Thus, I ask all new boarders to go and bombard any veteran with every question they have, as it will help clear any ambiguity they may have about UCC to improve their knowledge of the provided opportunities on a more personal level. This may clear a path to a more enjoyable time at UCC.
My second advice correlates directly with my first advice. By asking questions and learning more about the multitude of opportunities at UCC, many may come to realize there is something for everyone at the College. There is always going to be something to enjoy amongst the broad range of extra-curricular opportunities at UCC, whether it’s playing for one of the 45 different sports teams available, joining a band, a club, or even pursuing a role in the numerous theater productions like my former roommate, Jack. When Jack first came to UCC he was able to cope with his homesickness by devoting his after school time into a newly acquired passion in drama. Additionally, Jack recalled that as a new boarder from a non-athletic background, he truly appreciated how UCC enrolls students with varying talents and thus provides students like him with boundless opportunities, not limited to traditional sports, but beyond. In addition to the extracurriculars, I also strongly urge all boarders to participate in the other boarding activities such as the various Rao Cup and Prefects Cup competitions amongst the houses, weekend activities like paintballing or go-karting, and nighttime activities like the “Boarders Ice” skates. New boarders should take advantage of the fact that they have the privilege of having a front-yard consisting of a turf field, multiple tennis courts, swimming pool, gym, and world-class ice rinks. The extracurriculars and other additional activities should help deal with homesickness and make life more enjoyable at the College.
My final message to new boarders would be to integrate themselves and connect with the day student community. The UCC boarding community is a minuscule portion of the entire community as it only formulates 88 students out of the 700+ students at the Upper School. The simplest way to connect with what can be an overwhelming day student body is through the aforementioned recommendation of partaking in the activities provided by UCC. Day boys have always showcased the core of the school and Canada’s spirit, welcoming those from far away and celebrating our differences. Jack recalls that the subtle efforts made by the day boys to help integrate him into the community such as greeting him in the hallway or inviting the newcomers over to the lunch table went a long way into helping him make friends outside of the boarding house.
All in all, Jack recollects that through his extracurricular participation in theater productions and the day student friendships he was able to develop was what made his first year at UCC as a boarder the best school year of his life.