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Dmitri Solzhenitsyn ’19

Whenever people at Saint Paul’s ask me where I live, and I inform them that I’m from Vermont, the reaction on their faces indicate that I might as well have said I’m an alien from Mars. Then, I always feel the need to backtrack and say,

“Well, I used to live in New York City.” I find it funny that people won’t think twice about someone coming from a foreign country, but as soon as you say “Vermont” or “Oklahoma” or some other insignificant state, their jaws practically drop in shock. There are three or four of us Vermonters here, and we have the advantage of boarding relatively close to home. In fact, geographical convenience was one of the main reasons I chose SPS as one of two schools to apply to (along with Deerfield).

Despite the ‘Vermonter’ label, which, in my opinion, is a very minor thing to be known for, I’m enjoying my SPS experience so far. Looking back to five months ago, the way I imagined boarding school is dramatically different from the way it actually is. For one, I thought that the school would be entirely fixated on education and would discourage particular focus directed towards sports and music. I pictured an enormous library full of hundreds of kids, furiously scribbling notes, flipping through giant textbooks, and ripping their hair out from stress every night. I was surprised, however, to find how relatively relaxed academics are here. I suppose, from what all the 5th and 6th Formers say, that it’s only going to get harder and harder until my imagined academic situation becomes closer and closer to the truth, but it looks like school will be relatively stress-less until Fall Term of 2017. I have plenty of time to practice the piano, and, to the satisfaction of my father (a professional conductor and concert pianist), I’ve improved quite significantly in this area since arriving here. I was also taken aback at the sheer beauty of the Saint Paul’s grounds. For some reason, I don’t remember them being so gorgeous during my tour or revisits. But the green grass and flowers all around the school during the fall were stunning, and now, when all is enveloped in snow, the School’s beauty improves even more.

Sometimes I think back wistfully to my life in Vermont, especially about my friends and family and how I miss them. But I’m starting a whole new life at Saint Paul’s, filled with thousands of opportunities to learn, to broaden my horizons, to connect with others, and to become a more complete person. And five months in the year are devoted to vacations, so there is plenty of time to visit my family and catch up with old friends. On bad days I wonder what I’m doing here, but those days are very rare and I’m generally happy to be here. I think nearly everyone at Saint Paul’s School feels the same way.

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