Usman, 15, has boarded at Monmouth School since September last year. He said: “Boarding has been pretty great, I’ve made lots of friends and you never get lonely here unless you want to.
“There are lots of opportunities available to us.
“The teachers are all really supportive, and the tutoring is very helpful.
“It feels homely in boarding – I think it’s because you bond with people and make good friends through getting involved in all the activities. It creates a family environment.
“The friends I’ve made are really nice guys; they’ve been great. They have been understanding of the fact I come from a different religious background and always give me space when I needed to be alone.
“I miss my family but I have never felt homesick at all here.
“We can go to town and hang out with the girls from HMSG and I visit my sister sometimes, too.
“It’s nice to know she’s nearby.
“My favourite sport here is rugby, but I’m playing cricket now because we play different sports during different seasons.
“All of the opportunities in boarding help create a man out of you.”
JORDAN WONG (Yuet Ming) – Music Scholar & Malcolmson Organ Scholar. A former boarder from Hong Kong currently studying Classics (with Organ Scholarship) at Jesus College, Cambridge.
“Settling in was initially my greatest worry when I first came, especially because I did not know anyone in advance, though I was slightly relieved to realise shortly after I arrived, that I was not the only one; the fact that there are students from different places around the world makes my boarding house a more interesting place to live.
The teachers have been very supportive and helpful, that I was able to adapt into the school routine rather quickly. Having sets and, therefore, fewer students in a class, is a great advantage, as that means the academic progress will be followed more personally and tightly, with tutors bridging the gap between teachers and students even more smoothly; this has proved very useful, particularly for overseas students who will likely have differences between syllabuses and curricula across the world. The teachers are also very willing to provide extra support, and extensions to stretch students’ potential.
Music at Monmouth School accepts all standards, whether it be instrumental teaching to communal music-making, which creates a great ever-growing atmosphere – it is surprisingly easy to get involved with music in some ways: I have had friends in my house who joined Choral Society, and performed in the 400th Anniversary Concert in Cardiff. There definitely is not a shortage of extra-curricular activities, and I have even seen more activities added into the school schedule once in a while.
Boarding houses mean that there is a great sense of community, though it does not limit their social circles to day students at all. Weekend activities span from regular cinema trips to Christmas shopping in Cardiff or quad-biking. There are joint activities with HMSG as well (and lessons for 6th form), which is a special and rather good way of having the ‘best of both worlds’.”
LEO PELTZ, A former boarder from Germany currently studying Business Management/Geography at Oxford Brookes.
“Three years ago I told my parents I wanted to go to school in England for a while. After looking at several prospectuses, the website and making a visit, I finally decided on Monmouth for several reasons.
The main reason for my decision was that Monmouth, compared to other boarding schools, is quite a small school, and therefore it was very easy to begin with and I quickly got to know lots of people who were all open and friendly. The thought of living alone in a foreign country without your family can be very scary and is the reason why many don’t dare to try this experience.
However, these worries disappeared quickly because I enjoyed it right from the start and still enjoy living with my friends in the same boarding house.
Among other things, this has the advantage that there are lots of activities after school and in the evenings, whether musical or sporting. I myself faced the same hurdle and can say from my own experience that although it is scary at the beginning it has been the best decision that I could have made for my career and for my development, academically as well as a young man. I especially liked, and still like, the fact that the classes are much smaller than in Germany and that especially in Monmouth a lot of emphasis is placed on a close co-operation between teachers and pupils in order to make possible for the pupils the best grades they can get.
All in all, I really like it at Monmouth and the best proof of that is the fact that I am still here after three years.”
DAVID ONYEMELUKWE – David joined from Nigeria and is now studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology – one of the world’s top ranking universities
“The welcome at Monmouth School was great. I didn’t expect to fit in so quickly. In the first week, I had already made two out of my four closest friends. The boarding house was just incredible. On my first night, one of the boys came to my room to talk to me. After that I was booming with confidence. Everyone here is pretty easy going.
At Monmouth School, the teachers train you to pass the exams. In Nigeria, you don’t expect to get an A – if you get As and Bs you’re a genius. But here, you know A*s are achievable. We do so many practical things in science which help you learn. In physics, we ionised air and I remember everything about it, so it really works to see it. The teachers genuinely care – that makes the biggest difference. They care about where you’re going later in life and how well you do. They go the extra mile with everything. The teacher/student relationship is incredible. You can chat with them about everything, as well as learning and that’s a huge step towards liking the subject you’re studying.
I like rowing because it’s hard and challenging and it makes you better. I had never stepped into a boat before I got here. I was at the bottom of the novice group but I wanted to get better and better. I turned up to all the training sessions because I didn’t want to let anyone down, and now I’m in the 2nd eight. I have been all over the UK racing and I even have a mug I won at one of the events. I’ll be showing that to my grandchildren one day.
I don’t play an instrument, but the orchestra here is so professional. I go to their concerts because I love listening to them. My 10-year-old brother goes to The Grange and he is learning the saxophone. He loves it.
There are always lots of mixed boarders’ activities with HMSG. We go to the movies every Saturday and at Christmas they take us to Cardiff to buy presents for our families.
Coming here has given me a new perspective on what life is like on another continent. People here form opinions on things that matter. They think about things that could help mankind.”
DAVID, A current Sixth Form boarder
The main reason I came to Monmouth School was because of the outstanding science programme; the Monmouth Science Initiative was one of the main incentives to start here last September. The vast array of equipment and expertise within the science department has further reinforced my idea that the Monmouth is one of the top schools in this field. The school also has the unique blend of academic and sporting prowess where they manage to maintain success in many sports. It has the potential to cater for a vast array of students whilst providing the best conditions possible for them to flourish.
I am excited at the prospect of leaving school every day at 4o’clock with more knowledge about the world around me than I possessed at the start of the day.
This is inspirational and really makes you appreciate the value of the opportunities you have at the school. I am determined to be the best I can be and make the biggest difference I can to the world.
As a boarder, the friendships and relationships I have built have been fundamental. You do not only spend seven hours a day with your fellow pupils, but live together full time. I have been extremely fortunate to gain a small group of tight-knit friends whilst also broadening my horizons by meeting people from all different cultures and backgrounds. My teachers are vital to my development. Work and discussion do not just extend to the restraints of the syllabus, and the love my teachers have for their subjects is infectious and truly rare.
You might feel nervous about boarding but if you throw yourself into taking part in all the activities and make the effort to meet new people and gain new friends this effort will be reciprocated and any problems will sort themselves out in no time.”
Freddy, 12, has been a boarder since September this year.
He said: “I was excited to come but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I love it, it’s amazing.
“The fact that we are so close makes it feel like a family. When people aren’t around we always talk to each other.
“On Thursdays we go up to the girls’ school. I like swimming and it’s fun when the gap students come over and mess around in the garden.
“You’ve got to be yourself.
“Before I came here I did a taster day and really liked it.”
Ben, 13, has boarded for four years. His father is in the military.
He said: “I settled in on my first day.
“Over the last four years my boarding highlights include going paintballing for the first time, messing about in the garden with the gap year boarding assistants and making friends for life.
“Because you’re all together 24/7 it feels like you’re part of a big family.
“When you get back from school at the end of the day the atmosphere is really nice.
“Boarding has helped me gain a lot of confidence – it will stand me well in the future.
“When I go off to uni I feel like I’ll be a lot more independent than I would have been otherwise.”
Jay, 12, is from Hong Kong and started boarding in September.
He said: “I came to Monmouth with my sister. She wanted to go to England, so I came with her.
“Everyone is so friendly to me.
“Our boarding house is so close to school and you can make lots of friends here.
“Sometimes we go over to the girls’ school to hang out.
“I play rugby and tennis too.
“I like that I can be more independent here.”
Freddie, 13, has been boarding for two years and moves up to New House in September to join his brother.
He said: “I have boarded since I was seven because my parents are in the military. I wanted to come to Monmouth because it seemed like more my type of school.
“I think boarding here helps me to keep the friends I make rather than moving around.
“I was quite nervous when I started, but everyone was really nice to me.
“I like that I’m not the only boarder from a forces family; there are others from the same background that I can relate to and I’m not singled out.
“Everybody gets to know each other really well and my friends are fun – they’re my kind of friends.
“We do lots of activities like swimming, paintballing, go-karting and we’ve been to AirHop trampoline park in Bristol.
“I will always remember my experiences at school.
“Boarding helps with confidence. That’s important if you want to be a spokesman or a lawyer and you have to stand up and be confident.
“I want to be a vet because I love animals.
“I think being at Monmouth School will help me to achieve that because maths and science are really good here.”