Grand Adventure

Coming from a place nearly 8000 miles away, where my entire school was a single building about twice the size of Gelb Science Center and I rarely got enough homework to keep me up past 11 p.m., being at Andover has been a really big change. Over the three short weeks I’ve been here (a period which has felt like three months), I’ve been asked over and over again by people at home, “How’s Andover?” Usually I give one-word replies, like “good” or “overwhelming,” but honestly, these replies don’t sum it up my experience at all. Before I came to Andover, I had always wondered what boarding school would be like. I was excited by the notion of being independent and able to make my own decisions. However, I wasn’t too sure what coming to Andover would entail. I thought more about the thrill that would come with living in a new environment and less about the difficulties and challenges that I would face. Reality hit me the night that my parents left. I felt completely alone as I climbed into my new bed in my new room. I didn’t have the comfort of being in my own bed or hearing my father’s infinite typing next door. I was on the other side of the world in a bare room littered with empty boxes and unpacked suitcases. I missed the familiar sound of cars hurtling down the highway that I could hear from my room in Hong Kong. My head was full of unanswered questions about what would come next, and the interminable silence just made it worse. Over the next three weeks, I had to learn to get myself up on time, do my own laundry, sew my own buttons onto my clothes and organize my time. Being busy helped the transition into life here because it kept my mind off what I was missing back at home, but homesickness wasn’t my only problem. Building a life out of nothing takes time, patience and effort. Being new means no one knows who you are or what you’re like. People form opinions and impressions about you based solely on what they have seen so far. They don’t know anything about your past or what you were like before. And amongst all the academics, sports and extracurricular activities that happen here, you have to build an identity. It has taken a lot of work, but after three weeks at Andover, I feel as though I’m starting to adjust. I have to admit that I often find myself doing work late into the night and that my room is still pretty cluttered, but I now recognize the importance of prioritizing my activities and being more organized. I still miss Hong Kong, but the friends I’ve made here have helped me to get by. With their support, the homesickness isn’t as painful as it used to be. Still, there are many things I have to keep working on, and my adjustment continues. Two years at Andover will fly by fast. It’s both scary and exhilarating to think about. I don’t know if I consider it home yet, but with every day I’m drawn deeper into Andover. Sonya Chen is a new Upper from Hong Kong.