Ann-Sophies Aufenthalt an der Lawrence Academy (2012/13)

Groton, Massachusetts, USA

Porträt mit Freunden
“Oh my God! How am I supposed to live here for the next ten months?” That was probably the first question I asked myself when I entered this tiny room in the dorm I was going to live in for my time at Lawrence Academy. Lawrence Academy, a Boarding School one hour far away from Boston, in Groton, Massachusetts, which has a population of 10,000 people and probably the same amount of cows. Yes, that’s where I was going to stay.
The school has 400 students, half of them are boarders, the other half are day students. The day after I moved in, I finally got to know my roommate and it ended up in an inner break down. We were not similar at all and in that moment I didn’t think that we would ever get along…But I was wrong, because things change and people do too.
So I started school on that Monday, the Monday after I moved in and I was very excited to meet all those people I never met before. Everyone was so open and welcoming, asked me if they could help me when I looked confused and the first students called me their “friend”. Well, that might be a little too early, but who knows.
The year is separated into three terms and every day starts with a 20-minute long Assembly on Mondays and Fridays and a 20-minute advisory on all the other school days. After that, classes start. Every student takes at least 5 classes and for me they were Math 3, French 3 Honors, Biology, English and History. Each day you have four of your classes and one free Block. The school day starts at 8.20am and ends at 3.10pm although this is not the end of the day. At 3.30pm sports start and you have a one to two hour practice depending on what sport you chose. From 5.30pm until 6.30pm you eat dinner and after that you have a little free time until 8pm when you have to be back at your dorm for check-in. During study hall, which is from 8pm-10pm you can either study in your room or in the library, but studying is mandatory. Most of the time the two hours are not even enough to get all the homework done, so you’re often sitting at your desk until 11pm or even later…
In the beginning the classes were tough for me, because of the language barrier and especially history challenged me a lot. I was involved into class discussions, tests and seminars right from the start and that also meant that I had to overcome my language difficulties and that I had to express myself in a way everyone could understand. And it was hard work. Every night I was spending at least 4 hours trying to read Columbine, the 400-page-book about this school shooting, writing my lab report about Tetrahymena for Biology and my Analysis Paper about Gandhi and his non-violence movement for History. It was sometimes frustrating and super exhausting. These were also the days when I missed home the most. Additionally, I had two hours of soccer practice right after school every day and furthermore I tried to practice the harp as much as possible.
Mit Freunden in Boston
Soccer was great. I got to know so many people and one of my teammates is now one of my closest friends. Over the 3 months of soccer season I built up sportsmanship, friendships and a great team experience and I could benefit from that over the upcoming 6 months. Friendships were also made in the classroom. Most of the English and History classes are discussions, where everyone is sitting in a circle discussing a specific topic and at night you often meet with your classmates to study in the library for the next class and to help each other. I always studied with Amadu, a refugee from Sierra Leone and over the past 10 months he became my best friend. He showed me a lot about where he was coming from and his African culture.
By the time Thanksgiving break was coming up, I recognized my English to become more fluent and homework only took me two hours. What a step forward! Grades got better and I could keep conversations without thinking about the grammar. I pushed myself for exam week, the final week before break. Everyday I had a 3-hour-exam about one of my classes. I studied hard and eventually made honors roll.
Thanksgiving break I spent at my friend Gabby’s house with her and her family. Over Thanksgiving the whole family came over and we all made the Turkey together. It was delicious and an unforgettable experience.
After Thanksgiving we only had three weeks of school until we head back home for Christmas break. But that was long enough to get stuck in a Hurricane. Hurricane Sandy visited Groton and gave us a day off school. Obviously we were not disappointed by that, but unfortunately we had to stay in our dorms the whole day, so the excitement about the little break didn’t last that long.
After almost four months spent abroad, it was nice seeing my family and friends again over Christmas, but going back to America after two wonderful weeks in Germany was not easy. I’m not lying when I say that January was probably the hardest month of the year. I was homesick almost every day, and, because skiing was my sport for the winter term, I didn’t get back to campus until 7.30 every night. Additionally a terrible snowstorm came up, so again we were stuck in our cold dorms for 5 days not being allowed to go outside. Teachers gave a lot of work, the days were short and dark and the term just never seemed to end. Finally I made it, but with a terrible final exam for English and History: A mock trial about whether Napoleon committed crimes against humanity or not. They combined English and History, so we had to use a 20-page-package about Napoleon handed out in History class and the English readings Columbine, Lord of the Flies, Antigone, Julius Cesar and Fahrenheit 451 as our evidences to prove our case. They told me to be a cross examiner and I hated my job, because I had to make up my questions on the spot and it was just terrifying. I worked hard and finally I did a good job and was I was very happy and proud of myself that I managed it!
After the end of spring term, Winterim started. Winterim is an innovative program organized by the school. For two weeks the students participate in an elected project to better themselves and the community. I decided to do the project “Everyone’s a Critic”. We learned how to critique plays, artwork, music and dance and went to different performances every night. In the afternoon we critiqued them and posted our final drafts on a blog.
After Winterim, we had two weeks of spring break. I spent the first one at Gabby’s house, because I liked it so much the first break I went there and after explaining to me that the Celtics are not a Hockey team, we went to see their Basketball Game in the TD Garden. The second week my family came to visit and I loved showing them around Lawrence Academy, where I was living with all my friends.
Beim Theaterspielen
The spring term began for me with an audition for the One Acts. The One Acts are Student directed 10-minute plays that are performed at the end of the year. 100 people auditioned, but only 30 of them got casted. Luckily I got a cast in the play “The Long Walk to Forever” based on the short story by Kurt Vonnegut. I played Catherine and the rehearsals and performances were always fun and I loved acting. At this point school wasn’t a problem at all anymore and I was fully adjusted to the language, the classes and the LA community.
For my sport I wanted to try something new, so I signed up for the lacrosse team and I enjoyed it a lot! Lacrosse is an American sport, originally found by the Native Americans. I made more friends and travelling to the games was always fun. There was no homesickness anymore and time went by very fast. One day, suddenly our practice got cancelled and they told us the reason for it was a bomb that was set at the Boston Marathon. Everyone tried to reach their parents who were working in Boston and the students and teachers from our school who signed up to run the Marathon. As long as they didn’t catch the bombers we were not allowed to leave the schoolhouse and everyone panicked a lot. Finally they caught the one guy who was still alive and when the news spread around everyone at the school started singing the National Anthem and the school invited all of us to ice cream. This was an impressive experience!
Two weeks before I had to leave I got to experience the American Prom. It is basically just a dance, but everyone dresses up, you take a lot of pictures and eat fancy food. I will never forget it and I had an amazing time, but I don’t know if I would like to have the stress again to look pretty and smile for constant two hours just to have good pictures later…
Shortly after, the graduation for the seniors came and with that I had to say bye to my
first friends who were graduating that day. It wasn’t only an ending for them, it was also an ending for me and so the first tears dropped. I still had one week left, but it went by very quickly and there were also 5 exams that still had to be taken. Then it was also time for me to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I met at Lawrence Academy. Some of my friends came to the airport with me and probably none of us had ever cried that much before….But it was not a goodbye, it was a see you later…
Looking back, I can say that going to Lawrence Academy in this small “cowtown” was the best decision I could have made! Although I struggled a little at the beginning, I enjoyed my year so much and I will always keep the amazing people I met and the unforgettable memories I made in my heart!