A Second Home?

New boarders: You’re nervous, just admit it. No matter what you told yourself before you arrived here at Andover, it is a tall order to claim that coming to boarding school isn’t a daunting proposition. But, I assure you, not much will change. Every morning you’ll wake up to your mother’s voice, and the smell of bacon and eggs comes wafting up from downstairs. You’ll collapse back into bed and hear a slightly sterner voice echo throughout the hall, commanding you out of your warm cocoon of cotton sheets and down comforters. After you finally trudge downstairs, dressed in perfectly ironed and washed clothes, you will sit down to a wholesome breakfast before a punctual bus arrives to whisk you off to school… wait a minute, that can’t be right. Okay, so I lied. Living an independent life isn’t exactly luxurious, nor is it the familiar or comfortable routine we are accustomed to in our home lives. I would say that the idea of living on my own was a more frightening idea than this school’s academic workload. Even if your OCD isn’t as bad as mine was, some of you probably feel this way, as well. You’ve left the familiar routine and tranquility you had at home, and with that departure comes a certain amount of anxiety. However, therein lies the beauty of Andover. Although your accepted routine, your comfortable sameness, vanished the minute you got out of your car and stepped onto campus, a new sameness will almost instantly replace it. It is this that you must remind yourself of, and it is this new routine that makes coming back to school again a welcome experience. This new sameness renders the loss of any material pleasures or homey routine negligent. As a notable Andover alum has said, “After the third day, it’s like home again.” And so what forms the core of this familiar environment? It’s the complete immersion into the social and academic aspects of Andover. This may seem at bit much to ask, but I have found throughout my career at Andover that the most foolproof way to avoid having fun here is to sit around and brood over the discomfort you feel when you first arrive. Swap out sitting in your room feeling dejected with lounging on the Great Lawn with a group of your dorm mates. Both require no physical effort, and one is a lot more gratifying. The Andover community rapidly becomes a support system that replaces your familiar family environment. The students and adults you encounter in dormitories, classrooms, athletic teams and extracurricular activities quickly become people able to offer you useful council and listen to any worries you may possess. In addition, the classes you attend, the sports you play, and the clubs you participate in will form a concrete routine that gradually evolves into a comfortable sameness that easily replaces that which you have lost by coming to boarding school. Regardless of what you left behind when you came here, someone or something will fill that void. No, Andover is not as comfortable as my cushy suburban home. No, my days are not as leisurely or relaxing as they were at home. And, yes, while I may be rushing to Commons every morning and living on four hours of sleep and straight caffeine during this Upper year, I know I will get through it. And I know you will too. Good luck. Chris Meyer is a three-year Upper from Darien, CT.