Badminton School

Helen (Old Badmintonian)

Helen Cheng, medical student and Old Badmintonian

The summer before I started at Badminton, I met up in Hong Kong with Maggie, who was already at the School and who became my first friend there. She’d already written me a letter before we met, so I felt really welcomed before I even arrived! When I got to Badminton, I was treated like a family member. It’s such a small school that it was easy to mingle and get to know people in my year very quickly.

I enjoyed the small class teaching that allowed me to be actively involved in discussions in class. The teachers were serious but relaxed at the same time, so we would work hard, but that didn’t stop some teachers bringing chocolate and cake to class in the lesson before Christmas! I went on to study Medicine at university, and was fortunate to be able to do my pre-clinical studies at Cambridge. I’m now in my final year of clinical medical studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and I’ll graduate this summer to start work as a foundation doctor.

It was great boarding with friends

I remembered the first year I joined Badminton being quite challenging. Not only had I left home to join a new school thousands of miles away, but I had to settle into the English teaching style, and also start my GCSE studies. There were subjects that I found easy to get into, such as Maths and Science, and some that I struggled with at first. I took extra lessons in French an hour a week to catch up on my grammar and vocabulary. I also took piano lessons, as I’d always done in Hong Kong, and I remember practicing on the piano at Little Grange during my free time. It was great boarding with friends, and at the weekends we enjoyed going to Henleaze to top up our essentials and snacks - tinned mackerel was my favourite, believe it or not! I joined the cookery club that ran on Saturday mornings, and I remember that the boarding staff would help us order the ingredients we need and we would pair up and spend the whole afternoon cooking. It was a real joy exploring different recipes. I grew up in a busy city, and when I first came to Badminton, I thought Bristol was quite a quiet place. But during the time I was at the School it changed enormously!

As a boarder, I learned to be independent,
as well as to share with friends

Studying at Badminton opened so many doors for me. As a boarder, I learned to be independent, as well as to share with friends. Badminton has also allowed me to build strong foundations in my friendships. When facing uncertainties in university life, I feel I can always come back to my friends from Badminton who can comfort and support me. It’s easy to stay connected to the Badminton friends I can’t see so often through Facebook. Last November we had a mini-gathering in London and it was such a lovely occasion to catch up with those I haven't seen in the past five years.