When Tony returned to Vietnam from Canada at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision to join the AIS boarding school was an easy one. The high-quality international education AIS offered, supported by specialist teachers, exceptional facilities and outstanding opportunities, was a big drawcard. And the boarding option was perfect for the busy student who would otherwise have faced a long commute every day.
After two years as a boarding student, Tony couldn't be happier with his decision.
"AIS is a wonderful school that offers wonderful boarding," says the well-settled 17-year-old. "I initially chose to stay at AIS first for the facilities and second for the proximity to school. My family live far away from the campus, but boarding is incredibly convenient, and I can walk to school in only three minutes!
"I also really like the social side of boarding. I have made so many new friends, and the way we are all able to live together like one large extended family is great. There is a strong feeling of community, and we spend a lot of time talking, playing board games and socialising. My friends and I organise plenty of activities together, like monopoly, badminton and even ghost-hunting sometimes. And it's always enjoyable to talk to my best friends at boarding after a long day."
Tony's typical day starts at 5am. As an early riser, he likes to make the most of the morning before breakfast begins at 7am, after which he prepares everything he needs for the day ahead. Classes last from 8am until 2:40pm. Then he returns to the boarding house to devote the next couple of hours to homework, general study and any additional assignments, such as the International Baccalaureate CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) project.
As the afternoon draws to a close, 5pm sees the hardworking student engaging in some form of exercise or simply socialising with his fellow boarders. Here, the opportunity to use the AIS on-campus facilities during after-school hours is a huge benefit, with Tony and his friends frequently heading to the swimming pool or badminton courts to relax and reset after a busy day.
Then it's dinner at 6pm, and depending on whether there are tests or exams in the near future, 7pm sees Tony "hanging out with my friends or involved in some revision."
As a self-confessed homebody, Tony appreciates the way he has everything he needs on his doorstep and loves the comfort and convenience of boarding school life.
"The school is fantastic. The teachers are amazing, and there are many after-school activities that you can participate in, like Model United Nations, swimming, basketball, athletics, and a range of other co-curricular clubs and events. We also have wonderful 'boarding parents' – Mr and Mrs Bradfield. They are really friendly, and they take care of everything. They even supervise us during study periods, so essentially, we don't need to worry about anything.
"I'm very grateful to the Bradfields for making boarding such an amazing experience. They have always been available to support me in every aspect, from academic to emotional, and have made my stay in boarding so much more enjoyable," the Year 13 student adds.
Thriving in this internationally diverse setting, Tony believes the constant exposure to the English language has significantly benefited his education.
"While AIS respects local and foreign students' native languages, all communication in our boarding house is in English, so my friends and I always speak English. And because we're living in a multicultural environment, we also have the chance to learn both English and Vietnamese culture. When I first arrived at AIS boarding, I remember learning how to introduce myself in other languages, which was highly enjoyable. However, what I value the most is how I have come to learn various international dining etiquettes and better understand other cultures and customs."
Now in the final weeks of his AIS education, Tony has nothing but positive things to say about his time at the school.
"I have loved the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). Although, I have to say that it was very challenging. Yet, now at the end of the journey, looking back, I have never regretted taking the IBDP, and I'm confident that it has fully prepared me for my upcoming university courses in Canada.
"Plus, every single IBDP subject was among my favourites because I was able to choose subjects that I'm passionate about and that resonate with me. They include economics, physics, mathematics, English, French and geography. I especially loved the Theory of Knowledge course (ToK – which asks students to reflect on the nature of knowledge and how we know what we claim to know). Thanks to ToK, I was able to prepare myself with the right mindset in a constantly changing world."