The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

[COFFEE WITH CLARA] Ep. 5 Sydney Zimmerman recalls freshman year at boarding school

McKoy: Hi, you’re listening to the fifth episode of Coffee With Clara. I’m your host, Clara McKoy, and today I’m chatting with junior Sydney Zimmerman about her experience at boarding school. Enjoy the episode.

So just start by introducing yourself. Tell me a little bit about yourself and then say what you’re drinking.

Zimmerman: My name is Sydney. I’m a junior. I love to watch movies and TV shows and spend time with my friends. I like to swim and be outside. And I’m drinking a hot chocolate.

McKoy: And I’m drinking an iced vanilla matcha. So, when did you go to boarding school?

Zimmerman: My ninth-grade year.

McKoy: Okay, and where was that, what was it called?

Zimmerman: It’s called Kent School. It’s in Connecticut. It’s in Kent, Connecticut.

McKoy: And how was that decision made for you to go to boarding school?

Zimmerman: Well, I don’t remember exactly where the idea started. But I got the idea for it somewhere. I’m not exactly sure where, but then I brought it to my parents and they thought was a good idea. And then my dad kind of went through the whole process, figured everything out and found some schools and stuff. And then I guess I just kind of visited some schools and picked the one I like.

McKoy: So it was your idea?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

McKoy: Okay, cool. And do you remember how long you were kind of toying with the idea or how long you were thinking about it? And how quick that turnaround was?

Zimmerman: I believe I started actually looking for schools and stuff in November of my eighth-grade year. And the whole admission process … I think you have to have your things admitted by Jan. 15.

McKoy: So a little bit before, relatively short, like two months.
Zimmerman: Yeah.

McKoy: And do you remember exactly how many boarding schools you visited or other schools that you visited?

Zimmerman: I visited four or five in the general East Coast area.

McKoy: How did you know that you wanted to go to the East Coast?

Zimmerman: Well, most boarding schools are on the East Coast. And also, I feel like it’s oddly similar to Minnesota, because there’s not really many in the Midwest. And on the East Coast is kind of where I found the ones I liked.

McKoy: So just tell me generally about what your experience was like, over that year.

Zimmerman: It was very fun because there’s not a lot of attention on adults. It’s just a lot of spending time with your friends. But you also don’t get any time to yourself. Like you’re always with people, which is really fun. But also sometimes you just need to watch a movie or just chill. But it is definitely really fun. There’s just always people hanging out or games going on and sports events to go to different types of activities. Like there’s a whole SAC type thing. But like, they plan more activities every weekend.

McKoy: How many people did you room with?

Zimmerman: I had two roommates.

McKoy: And so were you friends with them? What was that relationship?

Zimmerman: I was closer with one of them than the other one, but we were all friends and it was kind of fun because we would all hang out and watch movies together. And we had shared things in there like a fridge and stuff and yeah, we definitely do a lot together and it’s nice because you can like walk together to the dining hall and all these places.

McKoy: How would you say that the relationships you made while you were at boarding school have lasted you until now, like are you still in touch with those people?

Zimmerman: I don’t stay in touch with everyone, but I have been in touch with people through social media. And there are three that I still talk to on the phone sometimes.

McKoy: Yeah. How many people were in your grade?

Zimmerman: It’s about the same as here. I would say maybe more or less I don’t know exactly.

McKoy: And do you have a general idea of where those people came from geographically? Like were a lot of them from the East Coast or did they kind of come from all over?

Zimmerman: There were definitely a lot from the East Coast, but there’s also some from California and other places in the US. And then also some from other countries and things.

McKoy: And how would you say boarding school is different from SPA? I’m sure there are a lot of ways, but what are the biggest ways that it was different?

Zimmerman: I would say a lot of things academically were the same. I think I got a lot less homework, but it was also a ninth grade so it’s kind of hard to tell. There were definitely more options for sports, but it’s also just because it’s different areas there’s like crew and more options that are more East Coast sports. And there’s also more stuff because you’re living on campus. It’s different and you see your teachers and stuff which can be interesting. Yeah.

McKoy: Well, how did you decide to only stay there for one year? Like, to only go for one year? How does that work?

It was very fun because there’s not a lot of attention on adults. It’s just a lot of spending time with your friends. But you also don’t get any time to yourself.

— Sydney Zimmerman

Zimmerman: I wasn’t sure when I was first doing it if I really wanted to do it, but I was also like, ‘I might as well try it for one year’. And then I kind of just realized that I really only have three years left to live at home. And I kind of miss having my own room and you know, some of my friends I grew up with–because a lot of my friends I’ve known for my whole life are here–and I didn’t really want to miss out on the time, to see my family and my little sister and stuff. So yeah, I thought it might be best if I only went for one year. A lot of people are like ‘did you not like it’ but I did like it.

McKoy: Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. I think there’s a lot–it seems like there’s a lot of factors to consider. How have you been going to SPA since kindergarten?

Zimmerman: Yeah

McKoy: What lessons did you learn from the experience? Or what takeaways did you bring home?

Zimmerman: More independence because I didn’t have my parents to help me with pretty much everything. So like, going grocery shopping and all that stuff. But just a lot of like independence and not having someone help you through everything. I also learned a lot about meeting new people. It’s kind of interesting, also learning about people because I grew up in Minnesota. I’ve lived here my whole life. So I really only know about knew about Minnesota. And that’s kind of interesting, because I never really realized how different states were in the US. There are a lot of different things that East Coast and like Connecticut kids do.

McKoy: Yeah, that makes sense. Would you say that like coming back to SPA after being in a boarding school you view school differently or it feels different?

Zimmerman: I feel like at this point, it doesn’t. But when I first came back, it was a little different.

McKoy: In what way?

Zimmerman: I think they changed the schedule after I left, but when I went there, most days we didn’t start class until 10. And also absences were not like … they didn’t really matter as much. You got a couple before they even told your parents or gave you a detention. And there also wasn’t much homework that you really turned in. And I guess this year we don’t really have that either. But last year we did. So it was just kind of more of an adjustment back into this learning environment, I would say.

McKoy: Anything else that I didn’t ask about that you want to add or share? Would you recommend it?

Zimmerman: Honestly, yeah. I feel like it also depends on the person because there are some people that probably wouldn’t really enjoy it, but there are some people that I feel like would.

McKoy: Thank you for listening to Coffee with Clara. Looking for more? Check out the first four episodes with Atari Ernst, Violet Benson, Mehmet Arey and Isaac Broderius. Stay tuned for next month’s episode.

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About the Contributor
Clara McKoy
Clara McKoy, Director of The Rubicon Online
My name is Clara McKoy (she/her). I’m the director of The Rubicon Online. At school, I’m involved in Community Action and Service Club and Senior Class Leadership Council. I love to chat about podcasts, music, and food. I can be reached at [email protected].

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