by Caciques Ian and Anika Ian: On the first academic day of the fall semester here at theIslandSchool, we still made time to hang out with our advisories. In the afternoon, different groups of about four to five students and their advisors visited blue holes, floated down tidal creeks, snorkeled in the surrounding waters, relaxed, and got to know the island. During advisory we spent time to reflect about the new and powerful experiences we have had so far at The Island School. We also spent time thinking about the future. For example, in my advisory, we drove to a beach in Wemyss Bight, and took a minute to write a letter to our future selves, which my advisor Megan will send to us after we leave the Island School. As a whole, advisory time was a helpful way for me to think about my time at The Island School.

Anika: Three years ago, school began in the middle of August, 15 minutes away from my house- just a short car ride away. My classmates were the same friends I had grown up with for the past eight years, and my teachers were the mentors that had trained and guided me almost my whole life. Despite the fact that I felt so familiar with my environment, and the nature of the school year ahead of me, the first morning was brimming with nerves, excitement, and curiosity for the time ahead. With some brief words of encouragement from my parents, and a tight hug from my sister, my trivial worries were put to rest.

Last year, getting to school involved a six hour plane ride across the country with my mother and father, and four suitcases filled with books, clothes, posters and cards from all of my best friends. Starting school at Exeter aroused such a myriad of novel emotions; never before had I been afraid at the thought of making new friends or meeting new people. Though facebook groups and chat sessions had given me the chance to learn the names of some of my classmates, no amount of online conversation could have prepared me for this first day of school, and all the new faces and cultures that would define my first high school year. When I would have sought out my parents' valuable insight, or my sisters comforting hugs, I instead turned to the new friends around me. I knew I could count on the other 9th graders who were spending their first year away from their family or the experienced seniors who called Exeter their second home to lift my spirits. With only a phone to communicate with my family in California, I was forced to grow much more independent, and inch away from my inherent reliance and dependency on others.

This year, on August 28, I leftSan Franciscoairport on my own, struggling to remember to check my back pocket every five minutes and make sure my passport was safe and sound. Four flights and eleven hours later, I arrived in Rock Sound airport, got into an Island School van, and drove, on the left side of the road, to campus. Without my phone or internet on my laptop, I couldn't call my parents immediately after I landed to tell them I was fine (I talked to them a few hours later). Being one of the first four students to arrive that day, and the only girl, I was unsure of who to lament about my homesickness with, or where to seek comfort. As more and more students started to arrive and the dorms started to fill up, my thoughts of home turned into excitement for scuba week, anxiety for the three day kayak trip, and a sense of fulfillment as I met more people and made more friends.

This most recent beginning to school was so utterly different from my start two years ago - I was as far away from home as I could have imagined, I had little freedom to communicate with my friends and family, and the intensity and rigor of my schedule and schoolwork had increased unbelievably. Yet, this morning, waking up to the customary girl's dorm chatter about misplaced khaki shorts and dirty bathrooms, I was just as enthusiastic and ready to begin class as I was the previous years, maybe even more.