It was August 18, 2001 when I locked my suitcase, grabbed my passport, and hopped on that Boeing 777. Since then, it has been a long and bumpy journey.
I think back to the day when the orientation leader greeted me at the door, the very same second when I responded with my “hello” I became a real international boarding school student. I remember being very excited about the new friends, the new school environment, the new teachers, and yes, the new bedroom too. Throughout the evening when we had dinner, ice-breaking games, ice-cream walk etc, I had that happy-camper face on me, so did my new friends.
Then I realized that behind my smile, something was sitting deep down in me – the strong, distressing emotion: fear. The fear of not knowing what’s ahead of me, and the fear of being on my own.
At TGS, you will have fun. You will grow from travelling and meeting people around the world, from your peers, from the teachers, from the experiential learning etc. However, just because you will meet people with great souls or find boots with great soles doesn’t necessarily mean that you will not experience fear, especially on your first day. And it IS okay and normal to be afraid. Or, to push it up another level, don’t be afraid to be afraid. Honestly, now that eight years have flown by and that I have grown and matured, I still agree that it isn’t easy at all to leave your lovely home, to step out of your comfort zone to explore the world outside.
TGS is not here to give you the solutions to all your problems. Rather, we are here to help you find your inner strength, to challenge you to strive for spiritual maturity, to provide you with great support and encouragement. This inner strength you will develop from your experience at TGS will belong to you for the rest of your life. On some days you may feel like the best student in the entire world; and every now and then you may feel a little weighted down, and a little bit more homesick than usual. All of these will make up your whole “TGS experience package”. Living the experience and learning from it are two different stories, both of which are equally important. While we would like to see that you live your TGS experience to the fullest, we will also help you learn from it.
And it will all begin with remembering the fear that you feel the first day you’re with us because it is exactly this emotion that will remind you, lifelong, how you find your inner strength to overcome this fear. Want a great tip? Pay very close attention to the first meal you eat with TGS (hee hee… by now you should have figured that we are a big fan of food). Try to remember the taste of the food, the person sitting next to you, the noise, the table, the cutleries, the beverage, everything. Mine was a red tray, brown napkins, steel cutleries, white plate, roast beef, mixed veges, water, round table, with a Jamaican girl and a Korean boy sitting beside me. The sensation as a result of this meal, vivid to me even to this day, has never failed to remind me how much stronger I am today. Every time I think back to that dinner, I know that the fear I felt was all worth it. Although it may not sound like the most delicious meal, it was indisputably a good meal, one that serves good purposes. And so will yours with TGS.
This lobster poutine looks very yummy, doesn’t it? Perhaps this will be your first meal with TGS.. who knows 🙂
If you ever have any questions or concerns about the life of an international boarding school student, my door is always open and I am more than happy to share with you my personal experience.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
TGS will provide you with a fun and supportive environment to become a stronger person, so that at the end of the journey, you will spill out the two most power-filled words – “I can”, in your most beautiful attire – your smile.