Countdown part 1

Have been feeling emotional lately thinking of how soon we’ll be leaving the country. I’ve been living in UK for 19 years, since I was 17. The first place I called home was Headington school, an all girls boarding school in Oxford. So far away from what I know and grew up in. Learning how to live and survive boarding school for one thing. The culture of boarding life and public school (I so was not as posh as the girls around me but am also happy Headington isnt as ‘posh’ as more elite boarding schools. I would have felt way out of place – even more than I initially did in Headington).

*FYI Public school is private school and state school is govt school. I still get confused with the terminology*

MUST.WAKE.UP.ON.TIME for breakfast or have the dining kitchen closed – so sad when they see you coming through the windows but since you’re not there before 8 am, no hot breakfast for you!

I cant seem to find pictures of my time there, but the memories are etched on to me of these first two years.

I still remember vividly my rooms (moved three times in those two years and every half term, having to pack up your things into the storeroom). What we get up to in the evenings – “prep” time where we pretend to do schoolwork when house staff knocks on the door. Hiding the kettle where its sole purpose is to provide boiling water for my maggi kari/pot noodle.

Internet was only available in the IT room and remember staying there till late doing god knows and emailing friends. Crap phone signal at times and needing to open the window and wave my phone out to see if the long awaited message has arrived. Watching TV in the small TV room (the big TV room was dominated by the Nigerians who loved to jam and dance and I was intimidated with their curvy bodies – seriously. I felt so much like a wafer compared to them.) Having to watch whatever programme the person who arrived before you were watching because first dibs and all that – always Home and Away FYI.

Needing 20p coins for laundry machine, so everytime you go out, you have to strategically think on how to save your 20p coins. Taking the bus to Oxford during the weekend and once in a blue moon going out during the weekday. Curfew 9 pm on a weekday and we so badly wanted to watch a movie that just came out. Snuck a phonecall to the house to say the bus is late just so we can finish watching rest of the movie. Having to show your face EVERY SINGLE NIGHT to the house staff in their office (long walk away!) at 9 pm. If you went to sleep before that, someone will wake you up and make you walk to the office. If you remain asleep, the house staff will eventually knock on your door and ensure you’re not out gallivanting elsewhere. This was the most annoying thing for me – the registers. Morning register wasnt too bad (8 am) because you have to wake up early for breakfast anyway.

Speaking of food, it wasnt until the second year that they had halal options. The head cook asked what kind of food we’d like him to cook – the usual menu is tomato pasta, chicken kiev, fish and chips and on sundays, roast chicken with gravy. I wasnt too sure how Asian food savvy he was so suggested egg fried rice. He very proudly presented egg fried rice a few days later with sweet and sour something. I loved his efforts.

Also I realised pants is not trousers but underwear. Nought means zero (why dont you just say zero?) and it took me several maths classes to realise this. You text and not message. Always always say please, or else be deemed rude. Speaking up is good and I was confused why the teacher felt I was performing subpar even though I did all my assignments on time. I was too quiet she said, I need to speak up more. She wants to hear my thoughts and ideas. I was bit perplexed but ok I’ll speak up more I said.

And the friendships – thankful to have Bruneians who I became close to (and also glad Kiki and Ona were there, friends from home!). Also girls from my year – Sehr, Yelly and Sarah. We may not see each other much now but they made my life a happier one during those times. It was so lonely and sad the first year, feeling deeply homesick and without the friends I had, I wouldnt have had as much fun. xx

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