St Peter's 13-18
Meeting Alex on the first day helped me settle in and show me that things were going to be fine.
Ester, Sixth Form Boarder
International boarders are in the minority at St Peter’s, and those who do stay at one of St Peter’s four senior boarding houses, come from more than 20 different countries.
Lower Sixth Formers Alex, previously living in Austria, and Ester, from the Czech Republic were matched as room mates at Dronfield.
“We met on the first day,” Ester said. “It can feel awkward meeting someone for the first time and know you’ll be sharing a room for weeks at a time but we had things in common. We both come from Central Europe, from large cities, and we both have siblings. We had tea together that first day. Two weeks in, we’d got used to each other and now we are closer to each other than anyone else here, although of course we mix and get on with all the girls in the house.
Alex applied for one of St Peter’s fiercely contested international boarding places. She recalls, “I was pretty independent before I started boarding. I didn’t want to go to a school where boarding was really strict and you have no freedom. I applied to St Peter’s , took the exam at my school in Vienna, and then I visited the school with my Dad for an interview. It looked old and idyllic, like the boarding school you see in movies.”
Ester beat thousands of aspiring international boarders to win an HMC-funded scholarship to live and study at St Peter’s.
She started without ever having visited York or St Peter’s, travelling and arriving on her own. “I always wanted to experience England and the scholarship was a great opportunity, Ester says. “I was quite scared. It was a totally different environment: new school, new house and new people to live with. But I was excited. Meeting Alex on the first day helped me settle in and show me that things were going to be fine.”
Both girls love the time and freedom they have to explore the medieval city centre, either together or with other friends. “There’s everything you need within walking distance,” Alex says. “I like the vibe. It’s my kind of town. I feel at home.”
Ester agrees: “My favourite thing is the cinema. I’m a big movie fan. I’m a fan of architecture and am hoping to study it at university, so that side of York is very interesting, and I love art. I saw the Picasso exhibition at York Art Gallery and I also like exploring.”
Boarding suits both girls. “I feel like I have more time and less work,” Alex says, “although that’s not necessarily the case. I’ll only be boarding for a short time but I’d like to see my sisters entering boarding at a younger age, so they get to grow up with the other boarders.”
Both girls speak regularly to their parents, and homesickness is not something they’ve experienced. Ester does say: “Sometimes I wish my parents could share in all the things that are going on at the school. This school does quite well in putting the emphasis on celebrating what is happening. We didn’t have that at my old school. It would be nice if my parents could be here to see it.”
For those international students hoping to follow them to a place at St Peter’s, Alex advises:
“If you really want something, go for it. You have to work hard, things don’t just come to you, but don’t be afraid of doing new things and taking advantage of what’s offered to you. Just go for it.”