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Tips for 16 moving away to vocational ballet school?


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I’d love to hear your tips and experiences of handling things when a 16yr moves to FT dance school away from home for the first time. And living independently with other students, 
Both practical an anything else! 
thank you 

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Just now, Belvoir said:

I’d love to hear your tips and experiences of handling things when a 16yr moves to FT dance school away from home for the first time. 
Both practical an anything else! 
thank you 

Hi. Can you just clarify, would this move be to a full boarding school like Elmhurst/Tring or independent living from the dance school like NBS/RBS/ENBS ? 🙂

Thank you. 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Belvoir said:

Yes independently 

Thank you. That does help. My DD went away just 2 months after she turned 16 to a school with independent living whereby her friend went to a full boarding voc school at the same time. Their experiences, needs and demands outside the actual school varied so much. 
There are so many aspects of independent living to think about, plan & prepare for, that it maybe harder to respond with a long list of learnt experiences both good and bad. Happy to answer direct questions.  
If you think it may help you are welcome to message me directly. 🙂
 

 

 

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I’d always advise finding out what’s included in your rent, are there any penalties if you have to withdraw from the rent, who owns the accommodation; if it’s the school, make sure that the rent is paid into a separate account and not the school’s general account.  The accommodation should have HMO (House of Multi Occupancy) fire safety measures if three or more students are sharing one house/flat.  

 

Also, who is responsible for cleaning (if the students, this can be yet another thing they have to worry about after a long day), who is responsible for maintenance (and how quickly do they respond to problems), who is responsible for pastoral care (and again, how quickly can they be reached).  Is the GP’s surgery nearby and are the students able to make and get to appointments easily (also, does the school day plus rehearsals, extra coaching etc. allow students to see a GP within surgery hours).

 

Cooking, shopping, laundry and having the energy to actually prepare and eat a decent meal at the end of a very long day can be just too much for some 16 year olds.  Looking back now, I would have much preferred a halls/boarding situation where breakfast and dinner are included; there’s a Nurse and/or House Parent onsite, etc.  

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29 minutes ago, Anna C said:

I’d always advise finding out what’s included in your rent, are there any penalties if you have to withdraw from the rent, who owns the accommodation; if it’s the school, make sure that the rent is paid into a separate account and not the school’s general account.  The accommodation should have HMO (House of Multi Occupancy) fire safety measures if three or more students are sharing one house/flat.  

 

Also, who is responsible for cleaning (if the students, this can be yet another thing they have to worry about after a long day), who is responsible for maintenance (and how quickly do they respond to problems), who is responsible for pastoral care (and again, how quickly can they be reached).  Is the GP’s surgery nearby and are the students able to make and get to appointments easily (also, does the school day plus rehearsals, extra coaching etc. allow students to see a GP within surgery hours).

 

Cooking, shopping, laundry and having the energy to actually prepare and eat a decent meal at the end of a very long day can be just too much for some 16 year olds.  Looking back now, I would have much preferred a halls/boarding situation where breakfast and dinner are included; there’s a Nurse and/or House Parent onsite, etc.  

Absolutely. Not forgetting the commute. 
Is the accommodation walking distance or will it involve lengthy commutes using public transport. Not just cost & time but the practical aspect of whether the 16yr old is confident enough to handle this additional demand. 

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 If your dc is anything like mine was they will be very excited at the prospect of living independently. 

 

My dd lived in a flat in student accommodation through her 3 years at Northern Ballet School.

 

Here are my thoughts on what helps to make it work.

 

1. If possible share a flat with other dance students.  Students on other courses will all be older, and will be living in a different time zone to the dance students, staying up later and getting up later, which can become a problem.

2. We paid dd's rent up front - it never went into her bank account so there was never a risk of her not being able to pay her rent.  

3. Make sure that they know how to do their own laundry before they go away.  

4. Make sure that they know how to clean the kitchen/bathroom (obviously it is important that they get lots of practice at this before they go!)

5. Make sure that they have practiced and perfected cooking a few simple meals.  

6. Good internet if possible - even more important now than it was back then.  And phone contracts with unlimited calls and texts if you can afford it.

7. Be prepared for homesickness.  Even if they really want to be there, this can be a big factor.  My dd was fine in her first term, but then very homesick in her second.

8. Some people say it is best that they don't come home at weekends.  In the end it worked best for my dd if she did come home at weekends, as her flat mates were often away at weekends too.

9. If possible chose accommodation close to college.  They have long, physical days, so commuting would be very tiring on top of that.  

 

 

 

 

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Homestay might also be a good option for some 16 year olds, so that they have a room in a family home and come home to a hot meal in the evenings too.  

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I mentioned Jack Monroe's Tin Can Cook Book a while ago on another thread but thought I would just mention it again.

 

I got it after a friend posted a picture of his "scratch" tea - Boston Beans.

 

It is full of good ideas for eating on a budget and I have loved all the recipes I have tried.  They are very easy to follow (I need them to be!) and most of the meals are very quick to make if you come in starving after a long, tiring day.

 

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Tin-Can-Cook-Store-cupboard-Recipes/dp/1529015286/ref=sr_1_1?crid=EU7Y1IB348GP&dchild=1&keywords=jack+monroe+tin+can+cook&qid=1615639912&sprefix=jack+Monroe+tin%2Caps%2C157&sr=8-1

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DS is 16  (in August so just when he moved!) He's at Central and in student accommodation. My tips are check if the accommodation will take 16 years olds even if only 18+ are listed as a lot do. Centrals accomodation list was on the expensive side so we looked elsewhere. Check out the discount travel cards if in London (child prices until they're 18). And what others have said cooking, washing and cleaning before they go to practice!!

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1 hour ago, Anna C said:

Homestay might also be a good option for some 16 year olds, so that they have a room in a family home and come home to a hot meal in the evenings too.  

Good suggestion but on that note be mindful of the family dynamics. A friends DD was a home stay student for her first year. As she had been the only child living back home with just her mum she found the transition rather challenging. The home stay family, lovely as they were, had two young children. She wasn’t used to the noise & general chaos 😉

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2 hours ago, glowlight said:

 If your dc is anything like mine was they will be very excited at the prospect of living independently. 

 

My dd lived in a flat in student accommodation through her 3 years at Northern Ballet School.

 

Here are my thoughts on what helps to make it work.

 

1. If possible share a flat with other dance students.  Students on other courses will all be older, and will be living in a different time zone to the dance students, staying up later and getting up later, which can become a problem.

2. We paid dd's rent up front - it never went into her bank account so there was never a risk of her not being able to pay her rent.  

3. Make sure that they know how to do their own laundry before they go away.  

4. Make sure that they know how to clean the kitchen/bathroom (obviously it is important that they get lots of practice at this before they go!)

5. Make sure that they have practiced and perfected cooking a few simple meals.  

6. Good internet if possible - even more important now than it was back then.  And phone contracts with unlimited calls and texts if you can afford it.

7. Be prepared for homesickness.  Even if they really want to be there, this can be a big factor.  My dd was fine in her first term, but then very homesick in her second.

8. Some people say it is best that they don't come home at weekends.  In the end it worked best for my dd if she did come home at weekends, as her flat mates were often away at weekends too.

9. If possible chose accommodation close to college.  They have long, physical days, so commuting would be very tiring on top of that.  

 

 

 

 

Hi. Very good bullet points. I can relate to nearly all of them as my DD is currently in her 3rd yr at NBS. Unite have been very good. Ensuring only NBS students share. They made an error once and placed a 3rd yr male uni student in one of the flats vacant bedrooms. They were so apologetic when it was brought to their attention. Poor chap was moved before he could even put a key in the lock! 
Oh your number 7 struck a cord. Staff were fabulous both at NBS & Unite. It’s so hard after the long Christmas holidays spent amongst family whilst being pampered (meals/laundry as they seem to reverse to type once home🤣) to return to having to be independent all over again during this long dark Jan/Feb days.  Bless ‘em all. 

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2 hours ago, balletbean said:

Good suggestion but on that note be mindful of the family dynamics. A friends DD was a home stay student for her first year. As she had been the only child living back home with just her mum she found the transition rather challenging. The home stay family, lovely as they were, had two young children. She wasn’t used to the noise & general chaos 😉

 

I can imagine! ☺️😳 Yes, it would definitely be worth checking.  Even so though, my dd was often so exhausted at the end of a very long day at school, the thought of cooking a meal from scratch, however simple, was just too much at just 16.  For her, a homestay with meals would have definitely been preferable had catered boarding not been an option  (young children or not!). 

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Will share some of our experience. Long story...very short. My DD has moved 4,000 miles away one month before turning 16 (August born).

Important points for us: knowing and immersing yourself into community, making friends, being familiar with neighbourhood and for me as a mum having someone ”grown up” close by that you can trust to have on another line of the phone should you need. In my case it was next door neighbour I have befriended.

Making sure she is comfortable cooking (I have made booklet with meals, how to do sauces etc.), planning for a week i.e. preparing food in advance should they have late show/ rehearsals…so she does not stress with household duties. Making sure she is comfortable with transport to and from school and that you feel at peace that the route is secure.

But the hardest thing for me was her being homesick and shock from doing it all on her own. Be prepared to be more on the phone, messenger…etc. Be prepared for her low moments which under normal circumstances would not sound so dramatic.

 

Due to the way how audition deadlines works, we have taken the gamble. Last set of auditions have been planned during summer just before September start. She has declined all offers received in UK and near Europe and flew off to complete her last set of auditions never knowing that the suitcase she will pack in July will have to last until December. So she flew, passed the gruelling 3 weeks of auditions, accepted offer and didn’t came back until Christmas.

She had one month with me to adapt to new country, new language, new culture, and new system of life. No more Wi-Fi, internet, privileges, dance shops, shopping malls and mum just phone call away. Wi-Fi only in hotels or hot spots and so poor that half of the hour we spent talking was frozen, shops that have empty shelves and you often go to school with glass of water and 1 boiled egg J in your stomach. She laughed as when they jumped their stomachs sounded full of water.

My concern was the distance traveling to school, shops that have some groceries in and being in community rather quite place. School boarding accommodation was in such poor state and so far that she decided to live alone, independently. She has moved to a large flat that we have owned but never used as we only visited the country back twice. First week I spent on my fours and cleaning, fridge arrived 3 month later and our lovely neighbour was doing our laundry while we waited for installing our washing machine that was shipped from EU.

My holiday allowance was gone and for me was time to fly back after 4 weeks we landed.

DD video called me 10 mins before school started as she found Wi-Fi hot spot nearby, then after school we spent 1hr daily catching up so she does not feel lonely. She spend weekends walking around neighbourhoods getting to know it, sitting drinking smoothies in small coffees and just observing people, finding what she can buy, where and when, then where she will pay her bills, what place is best to pick up “bus” or hike to location she needed to go. Most important thing for me was to create some sort of web of people she can rely on. We have visited all neighbours we had around us and I made sure they keep an eye on her. Well, they had 16 years old neighbour in a huge flat living on her own next to them. After couple of days she made friends at school and they showed her where to buy food, how the transport works (hiking mainly lol) and spend more time socialising with local peers to fit in the culture. That was I think the most important part which helped the most. She made her own web of people she can rely on. As a “foreign” girls she was popular (mainly for material reasons).

She took copy of their school week planner and planned her household stuff around it. She cooked in batches and froze meals when she was returning home from 10pm performances. Shopping was done during Saturday for the whole week. She often got extra so she gave few things to neighbours. Often she bought cakes and gave it to neighbour kids and she has enforced the neighbour relationships 😄 On some days where food was scarce in the shops she just ordered meals from nearby restaurant. She learned quickly that when you see butter in the shop, buy in bulk and freeze it as you will not see it for a next month. Same with everything.

School canteen was revolting sadly so she prepared her own meals/ Most of the kids brought their own.

Next cultural shock is that there was no dance shop in the country (unbelievable but a fact), the students are given everything at the start of the year i.e. from 1 pair of tights, 1 leotard and 1 pair of flat shoes and pointe shoes. Forget pointe shoes fitting. You wear what you are given. The shoes must last whole season and are repaired in the company “repair shop”. She learned that from older students. Twice a month she hiked with friends to get her shoes “glued together” to the “repair shop”. That was another lesson for us…we not only had to pack hygiene products, medicaments, food and clothes, but whole case of ballet stuff in case she need during her next 6 month.

December came and at the airport I was collecting grow up lady. No longer the teen that I have left to fight the lions on her own... She has changed so much and grow up fast. This would be the greatest change you will notice in her when she returns back.
1st year passed very fast for me. We saw each other twice a year, on Christmas and summer. Despite me being comfortable that she is now treating her second home like a home, being very street wise, the leaving always hurts. 3 days I am completely “out of action”, first year I even slept with her pj’s next to me.

As the apartment we have is very large (2 very large double beds rooms), 2 baths, huge sun roof with stunning views (being converted into studio lol during lock down), she has thought she would rent her 2nd room to friends. The idea was great, small money from the rent for her daily household spending, BUT friends she has made are older (in year 3) and can have different interests. Most of them had a boyfriends that wanted to visit and this has disturbed the “peace” in the house. Even the agreement was not to have boys around or parties it was quickly out of hand as she felt overpowered. She wanted to sleep, but the music was too loud in the next room, food started to gone missing, friends spent all the water available in the water tank and she did not had enough for her washing etc. As you would expect. The friends graduated and left and she did not want to rent with anyone even if it would be her best mate. She prefers being quiet and rather live on her own no matter how lonely evenings can be. So her lesson was sharing is not always the best option.

Let’s see what the final year has prepared for us. So far we are drawing a list what not to forget to bring 😄 and the above long story short? I have left out so much as you would need to lie down in a very dark room 😄 

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Goodness, Flexynexy, I have so much admiration for your daughter.  Fancy doing all that at barely 16 - and from what you say, thriving, too.

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On 13/03/2021 at 17:28, Anna C said:

 

I can imagine! ☺️😳 Yes, it would definitely be worth checking.  Even so though, my dd was often so exhausted at the end of a very long day at school, the thought of cooking a meal from scratch, however simple, was just too much at just 16.  For her, a homestay with meals would have definitely been preferable had catered boarding not been an option  (young children or not!). 

I was actually surprised and impressed that my DD kept the momentum going along with her flatmates. I think they all rubbed off of each other. Never wanting to be the first to ‘cave in’ and consume ready made/junk food. They often commented about the amount (junk food) Uni students bought whilst watching them (discreetly, obviously 😉) out the corner of their eyes at the local supermarket. 
Their motto 

Heathy food = Healthy engine (aka body & mind). ☺️

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3 hours ago, balletbean said:

I was actually surprised and impressed that my DD kept the momentum going along with her flatmates. I think they all rubbed off of each other. Never wanting to be the first to ‘cave in’ and consume ready made/junk food. They often commented about the amount (junk food) Uni students bought whilst watching them (discreetly, obviously 😉) out the corner of their eyes at the local supermarket. 
Their motto 

Heathy food = Healthy engine (aka body & mind). ☺️

 

To be honest, I think it depends upon one’s default re. food when stressed/homesick/exhausted - some people over-eat, some people crave fast food, others, like my dd, lose their appetite entirely and struggle to eat.  There was no Mcdonalds or similar within walking distance but even had there been, to be honest, I’d probably have preferred that she ate chicken nuggets than not eat anywhere near enough of anything. 🤷🏻‍♀️

 

It really is horses for courses.  I think (with a couple of exceptions) the students who had boarded at lower school found it much less of a shock to the system.  For a lot of 16 year-olds though especially those who haven’t come from full-time lower school, long days in the studio (where staring at yourself in a mirror all day can start you comparing your body with your fellow students, with the risk of thinking you need to lose weight), homesickness, exhaustion and stress can be quite enough of a challenge without having to add in cooking, laundry and cleaning on top.  

 

At the end of the day, you have to factor in your own child’s personality, how they cope under stress, how independent they are, have they already lived away from home, and so on, then decide whether independent living is for them, or whether they’d be better boarding, in a homestay or in halls. 

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I heard an Australian ballet teacher talking about students - girls - going to the UK for upper school training.  She spoke about the Heathrow Effect.

Basically girls gaining weight because they were no longer being supported in their eating by mum, homesick, too tired and time poor to make good meals...

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On 17/03/2021 at 11:04, Peanut68 said:

Wow, FlexyNexy, that’s some story & some daughter!!

Am I right to assume she is studying in Russia? Good luck to her & to you, the support from afar! 

No, it is not Russia...she is very tough cookie. It was a rollercoaster journey and I have grown few grey hair since.

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