Friday – fun or not?

This is another ‘memory’ post, in line with my board school food memories. Now days, Friday seems to be almost the best day of the week – it’s the last day before two days of weekend.  Days of freedom for most, to spend doing what they please.  Only in the last few years have I come to see Friday as the fun day others have always been thanking goodness for!

When I was at boarding school, there were two types of Fridays.  Those preceding an ‘in’ weekend, and those preceding an ‘out’ weekend.  When I started at StM in 1995, the in and out weekends were dictated on a calendar.  This made staff management easier – the school knew when it would be empty, and when it would be full.  I gather the older students hated it!  They had to find somewhere on random weekends, but on other weekends, when they might want to be ‘out’ (to attend a party or similar) they may not be allowed to go.

In 1997 (I think) they moved to a more flexible system, where each student was permitted 4 weekends out a term.  How it worked was that you could take both Friday and Saturday night.  Or just one of those nights.  But you were only allowed four instances, up until Year 11, where you got some additional privileges, such as party leave – which was essentially ‘day’ leave so long as you were back by curfew.

Also, in the later years, maybe 1997 too, they added a Friday afternoon activity of shopping at the local mall.  This required a hired coach to take all those that were interested.  It was a boon to have this easy access to grocery stores, clothing stores, hairdressers etc.  As I was only 11/12, I didn’t have such a long list of needs and wants, but I can imagine for 16 and 17 years olds, the addition of this weekly pilgrimage was warmly welcomed.

So, Friday – fun or not?  Well, it was ALWAYS fun to go to Toomba’s (Toombul, in Aussie school girl slang, is a suburb in which the shopping mall was).  We slouched our way around in our full uniform, complete with panama hat, slurping soft drinks, and scoffing McDonald’s fries, or Wizz Fizz sherbet, or even sucking on baby bottles.  We had all sorts of ‘trends’.  Sometimes we bought pet fish.  Or CDs.

We were spirited back to school in time for dinner (5/5.30pm).  It was usually deep fried fish and chips.  Or a BBQ, during summer.  The return to dinner and the thoughts of the predictable meals, particularly weekend meals, to this day make my stomach and heart sink.  Imagining this Friday dinner, and it’s start of a long and boring weekend, usually gave me a dull ache for a more interesting life.  Something more ‘fun’.

What’s even more interesting about these memories of 7 years of my life, was that after a few years ‘out of the system’ I put myself back IN the system, by being a boarding house supervisor.  For almost two years, I worked weekends at boarding schools.  I rejoined the predictable, bland Friday meal, with nothing exciting on the horizon, til everyone’s return on Sunday night.  And like my school, other schools feed you with a routine menu.  Different to the last place, but the same every week!

Nowadays, I think about Friday as a night I can stay up.  I don’t play sport on a Saturday morning, as I did all through school.  I don’t even work on a Saturday now I’m in my career job, and if I do, it’s on overtime rates.  Fridays mean I can drink some wine, maybe even outside the house! I can go out for a meal! I can sleep over with friends (if we have too much wine!).  I can go wherever and do whatever.  I’m not ‘locked’ in.  At any time, I can make or change plans, without a form, without a leave balance to consider, without needing my host to ring in by Thursday 9pm to verify they are in fact an adult and will care for me for the times I indicated on the said form.

When I look back on boarding school, I was incredibly fond on it on the whole.  I loved the order.  I loved the noise and bustle.  I loved the convenience (which I have largely emulated in my own home by living on top of shops!).  But I did not relish weekends. I did not look forward to Friday dinner, which marked the start of a barren expanse of time and loneliness.

13 Replies to “Friday – fun or not?”

    1. It's common in Australia for kids who live in rural areas to go to boarding school, as there are few quality schools "in the bush". Also because Australia has only a few big cities

  1. Thanks for the post, Sarah. It is a world I know nothing about! I can see how you'd like the structure and want to incorporate the best of it in your present life, with the addition of FUNNER weekends!

    1. It's another world to most people! I enjoy reminiscing and at the same time giving people an idea of what it's really like! I'm sure many people rely on movies or books to give them an idea!

  2. It's quite intriguing to hear how boarding schools run – it's such a different life to what many have as high school students! Did they allow access to internet on weekends as a form of entertainment?

    1. Not that I recall. We didn't have smart phones then. And against the rules I had a Mobile phone in 2001 (year 11) that I'm not sure could text! I think if we wanted the internet we had to use the computer room – a handful of computers and at capacity the dorms had 180 boarders!

      1. It's funny to think that Facebook, YouTube and Smartphones (in Australia) did not exist back in 2001…come to think of it, the internet would have been useless for entertainment anyway 😉

  3. This was interesting to read about. I've never met anyone that went to boarding school here. I feel like the media (at least here) mostly gives off the impression that only rich people go to boarding school, since it's usually expensive, and there's a stereotype of snobs going there. I don't know if I would have liked it…there is a LOT of structure and not being able to come and go as you please would really put a damper on things. I like having freedom.

    That being said, my high school was a "closed" campus, meaning no one could drive off during school hours unless they had special permission. There are a decent amount of open campuses though, where you're allowed to leave for lunch and come back. Unfortunately a student got into a car accident on his lunch hour near the school (years before I attended) and was killed, so they put a stop to it. I didn't have my license until after HS, so it didn't pertain to me, but it would have been nice to have options other than cafeteria food!

    1. Ah I love 'unraveling' the boarding school secrecy and myths. Boarding school is definitely costly, but many rural families are rather wealthy, at least in assets. And I started at boarding school when my dad was transferred to a small island, where there weren't 'good' schools, so his company paid the costs. Once I got a taste, I couldn't resist!

      Interesting idea 'closed campuses' – Australian kids can't drive til nearly 17 years old, and in some states, that means they are almost out of high school. In any case, at my school there was no way you could LEAVE to get lunch. We all brown bagged it (well if you weren't a boarder!). I think my bf's school was more relaxed on those sorts of rules though…

  4. Love this post, Sarah. Interesting that you went back for weekend work. You obviously felt very secure there.

    The comments about different perceptions of boarding school are interesting too. I think films about boarding schools perpetuate some common myths.

    1. I'll try to shatter (and perpetuate the true) myths of boarding school here) I enjoy the trips down memory lane!

      It's certainly a system I knew and the pay was great for what can be an easy job with lots of time to study.

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