Expanding horizons at boarding school is somewhat of a family tradition for Year 10 student Eliza Bahr.
Growing up in the town of Henty in southwestern NSW, she watched her two older brothers leave for boarding school whilst she continued to attend the local high school. At the time, she insisted that she wasn’t going to go to boarding school like her brothers.
However it was during Year 8 that Eliza began to feel restricted. “I felt like I wasn’t learning as much as I could,” she says.
Eliza was motivated to make the move south to Melbourne to attend Methodist Ladies’ College, and with it, moved into the boarding house with around a hundred other girls from all over Australia and internationally.
“Even having a shared bedroom and sharing a bathroom is so different,” she says. “It felt a little weird at first, but it’s like I have a hundred sisters.”
The Bahr family farms cereal and oilseed crops along with 3000 Merino ewes, a stark contrast to the inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne Eliza now calls home during school term.
With a busy street full of cafes, shops, public transport and a cinema just beyond the school gates, weekends are never boring – not to mention the boarding excursions and organised activities. “It’s very different,” Eliza says of the lifestyles between the farm and school, “but I enjoy both environments equally!”
Whilst she enjoys going home for a break over the holidays, returning to school for the start of term means a lot of catch ups with her ‘second family’.
“I’ve created the closest friendships I’ve ever had and I know they’ll last forever,” she says.
It’s natural to be apprehensive about moving out of home, but Eliza says the boarding staff and all the other students are incredibly supportive of each other.
“Absolutely go for it, it’s such a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she enthuses. “You’re given the chance to do everything you’ve wanted to. You can build such strong friendships, which helps a lot with the transition, and you learn about yourself.
“Boarding changes you completely. I’ve become more independent and I know how to look after myself. I definitely recommend it!”
Eliza in the MLC boarding house