Boarding School


Lugano, Switzerland – the view from my window








My senior year in boarding school in Switzerland, I lived in the bottom of a house in two big rooms with six other girls.  We had two bathrooms and lots of windows and a large patio.  The view of Lake Lugano and the surrounding mountains was spectacular.  I woke up to it every morning.  When it was warm out we would open all the windows and the door and it was like we lived outside.  We were pretty isolated from the rest of the campus so people rarely came by to check on us.  After supper everybody had two hours of study time when they were to be either in their rooms or in the library.  We usually had the stereo going and somebody always had a card game going.  It was rare to see anybody studying.  I did my studying in the afternoon or just before class.

The teacher who was on duty went around and checked up on people to make sure they were studying but they rarely came by our room.  And if they did it was to escape or because they wanted something.  There was one teacher who spent the entire evening in our room copying our Rolling Stones tapes whenever he was on duty.  We hardly knew him and we thought it was a little odd but he never hassled us about anything so we just let him do his thing.

There was a small village grocery store that sold sandwiches and drinks just up the road from our house and everybody knew the guy who owned it, Angelo.  He would also come to the snack bar in the evenings to sell sandwiches and chips.  He made the best ham and cheese sandwiches.  I usually slept through breakfast and skipped dinner but I often was hungry in the evening and if I could scrape the money together I would go to the snack bar and get something to eat before going home for the night.

Seniors were allowed to travel by themselves instead of hooking up with a school trip and so my friend Choni and I decided that we would go to Corsica in the spring.  We were hoping it would be warm and we could lie on the beach.  The night before we left, four of our roommates caught the night train to Amsterdam.  Another roommate had her family visiting and they were sleeping in the back room.  Well, Choni and I decided we would pack for our trip and just stay up all night since we had to leave so early the next morning. People kept dropping by to see us and some of them were loud and obnoxious.  The people trying to sleep in the back room didn’t appreciate all of this and kept coming out and asking us things like – “is there a cheap hotel near here that we could move to?”  We promised we would be quiet and we really did try but we were not in control of the situation.  It took us about four hours to get Choni packed.

My friend Suzie stopped by and the people in the back really started to complain so we decided to go home with her.  When we got to her room it was all dark and she just crashed on her bed but the stereo was hooked up so it just kept playing the same record over and over again.  I don’t know how long we sat there. When we got back to our room the sun was just starting to come up. We gathered up our stuff and sat outside and had a cigarette and watched the sun come up.

From there we went over to the gym teacher’s house because he had agreed to give us a ride to the train station.  He gave us coffee and I burned my mouth on it.  We took the train to Milan, a bus to the airport, a plane to Nice, another plane to Bastia, Corsica and arrived at about four in the afternoon. Once we found our pensione we fell on our beds and slept.  It rained the whole time we were there.

It turned out we pretty much could see all Bastia in one day.  After a couple of days of rain we decided to leave early and head for Nice.  We pooled all our money and sprang for a hotel room in one of the best hotels right on the beach.  Everybody looked at us weird but all we wanted was a hot bath and a comfy bed.  It was money well spent, but the next day we didn’t have enough money left for a cab to the airport so we threw on our backpacks and walked.  It turned out most of the way we could walk along the beach so it wasn’t so bad!


  1. I went to boarding school in a totally different part of the world but this post was great for the memories it brought up. And I used to read novels on girls who went to boarding school in Switzerland. Lovely to walk through your memories with you!

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