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Saints on the Hill: A Different Kind of Boarding School

Saints on the Hill: A Different Kind of Boarding School

Eliza ’24 already had plenty of boarding school experience before coming to Canterbury, and it was very different from her time now on the hilltop. During her Saints on the Hill presentation, Eliza shared stories of her time at Schule Schloss Salem, a German boarding school she attended starting in the eighth grade.

“I was part of a dorm of 16 girls. We all were super-connected because we were international, which was great for me—I had never been so far from home for so long,” she said of her time at Salem, a school of about 800 students ranging from first to 10th grade. “We helped and supported each other. It was a big culture shock being there and definitely not the same as an American education. Plus, I had never gone to boarding school or private school before then; I had always been in a public school.”

Eliza’s description of those differences was an eye-opener for our Saints. “The routine at Salem was very rigorous,” she recalled. “At six in the morning, they would ring a bell and shout ‘Morgenlauf!’, which meant ‘morning run.’ We had to be ready to go on a run around the whole campus. And if you weren’t running, there were teachers there to make sure you were. They would urge you on, saying, ‘Come on, it’s Morgenlauf, not Morgen-walk!’”

She went on to describe how the German school had a more formal structure than its American counterpart. “We had to wear uniforms, and you had to sit with your dorm during breakfast and lunch,” she explained. “For lunch, you had to be there at 2:30 and couldn’t sit down until a gong was rung. Later, while we were eating, the gong would ring again, which meant it was Silentium—one minute of silent reflection. After dessert, the gong would ring a final time, meaning lunch was over, and we would either go to classes or after-school activities.” 

Each Salem student would be assigned dorm duties such as taking out the trash for the entire dorm or cleaning the kitchen or bathroom. But there was one that none of them wanted. “Our least-favorite dorm duty was collecting everyone’s devices because we weren’t allowed to have them at certain times,” Eliza said. “The only time we could use any devices was between 3:30 and 9:30 PM; then they would be taken away.”

Eliza said she benefited both personally and educationally from her boarding school experience in Germany. “I learned so much. I am very grateful I was able to study abroad,” she concluded. “But I am even more grateful to be here at Canterbury and sharing a part of my story with you all. Danke schön!”