Published on 14/07/22
Denise Hammersley, Head of Boarding, sat down for a chat with Year 12 and Year 13 boarding students Tiffany and Paphon to ask them what it’s really like to live in a Stephen Perse boarding house.
Interview with Year 12 Boarding Student Tiffany
What year are you in and how old were you when you joined Stephen Perse?
I am in Year 12 and I was 16 years old when I joined Stephen Perse. I am studying A levels and live in St Barnabas Boarding House. I have never lived in boarding before.
How did you find adjusting to boarding?
Meeting new friends was very important to me. It was easy to fit in and to feel at home and there is a mix of nationalities. Boarding staff look after us, both day and night, and I feel very safe.
What is your room like and what other facilities are there in the boarding house?
I have a single bed and desk to study and an en-suite bathroom. We have lots of other facilities at the boarding house including a large common room, Kirby’s Dining Room where we have our meals and a table tennis table. I also often visit my friends in the other boarding house which is nearby.
What happens for supervised study?
Supervised study is from 7pm to 9pm from Monday to Thursday in my own room. It’s more efficient for me to work at the same time each night so that I can set time boundaries for myself, when to work and when to rest.
What extracurricular things do you take part in?
Usually I go to badminton after school on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and also play at the weekend. For Enrichment at the moment I am doing paddle-boarding one day and rowing the other.
What do you like to do in your free time in the evening or at weekends?
I like to play mahjong with my friends and I like watching football. At the weekends we often go out to eat at restaurants.
How do you feel boarding is preparing you for future life and university?
It helps me to be more independent, to solve problems on my own and has improved my time management. I have to tidy my room, and decide when to work and when to rest, and I have to do my laundry at the onsite facilities.
Interview with Year 13 Boarding Student Paphon
What country are you from and when did you join Stephen Perse?
I’m Paphon and I’m from Thailand, I first joined Stephan Perse at Year 12. The first two terms of my study was online due to COVID, it worked well but I would have loved to be in the actual classroom. I arrived in Cambridge two terms later at Easter and I have been here a year and a month.
What are you studying?
I am studying A levels in Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Chemistry.
Which boarding house do you live in?
I live in Scholars Boarding House, it was my first boarding house experience. I adapted really quickly, I enjoy the freedom and independence and being in the heart of Cambridge and everything it has to offer.
How do you feel about the boarding house rules?
Rules in the boarding house are common sense, there is a good balance between checking that we are happy and safe and allowing us independence. For example, after school there is a welfare check at 6pm, and then study time from 7pm to 9pm.
Have you found it easy to make friends?
It has been really easy to make new friends in the boarding house, there are lots of common rooms where we can meet up to chat, eat snacks, play games and my favourite is watching football! We have so many great times, a highlight was watching the Euros.
Tell me about your room in the boarding house
My room in the boarding house is cosy and is my own personal space. There is everything that you need, a comfortable bed, storage, a work table and an en-suite bathroom.
Do you feel that staying in the boarding house is good preparation for university?
I feel it has been really good preparation for university, and has taught me to manage my own life and to take responsibility with the added benefit of having structure and support. The boarding house staff are always there when you need them but it’s not intrusive. For example, you see boarding staff three or four times a day when they come to check that we are ok but you also then learn to manage your own time around that, when to work and when to relax. I feel I am independent, self-motivated and organised.
Tell me a bit about Cambridge, what do you enjoy doing?
Living in central Cambridge has the right balance, it’s not too busy like London, it has cinemas, loads of shops and restaurants, parks, the colleges, museums and it is really safe. I really like all the different restaurants and the variety of cuisines.
What enrichment events do you take part in?
Personally I really enjoy enrichment and the main highlight has been taking part in the MUN conference which was really fun. I also take part in badminton sessions.
What are you going to study at university?
I am going to study Physics with a focus on Astrophysics at university.