“The Freedom to Change:” James Bostrup ’21 on Life as a 9th Grader at Dublin

“If I had to describe myself, it would be as somebody who is changing, more than anything,” says James Bostrup ’21.

Bostrup, a freshman at Dublin School, elaborates, saying, “I’m always working toward something different or something new. Changing describes me totally because I’m able to see so much more of it here at Dublin—I finally have the choice to be this, to have the freedom to change.”

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What does this change bring? In short, vulnerability and tolerance. Bostrup notices that, after six months at Dublin, his worldview has shifted, and, thus, both how he interacts with the people around him and how he understands himself. 

“I’m a lot more vulnerable in a good way. I didn’t see that at all before, when I went to public school,” he says. “I notice that I’m a lot more open and accepting now that I have the chance to talk to people who are knowledgeable and different and have so much experience—from seniors to wonderful teachers who really care.”

Truthfully, Bostrup notices his growth and evolution on Snapchat.

“I used to post blank pictures, none of myself, none of people,” he admits. “It was kind of dull but also the norm.”

“Now that I’ve gotten here, I flaunt a little bit. I flaunt what I am doing, I take more selfies, pictures of friends. I am just happier with who I am and want to share that,” he adds.

Bostrup notices that perhaps what contributes to his energized freedom to change and evolve is the foundation of deep, genuine friendships.

“Friendships here at Dublin are a lot more meaningful,” he says. “In such a small environment, you kind of have to be nice to people, which you should be, anyway. It’s okay to open up to the people here. It is a place where you can trust people. I didn’t really see that at my old schools.”

“My friendships are a lot more engaging. It’s about going out and doing things. At a boarding school in New Hampshire, there’s not a really a sprawling city—other than Keene,” he smiles. “So, here, you go out and do things with people. Instead of sitting inside and staring at a computer screen, I go outside. I do things with other people. I probably spend only an hour a day on the computer. I just like being around my friends. I like playing games and not just sitting there on our phones. I sound like a parent, saying that.”

“We just sit there and converse,” he says. “And, I don’t know, it hasn’t gotten old yet.”

Being at a boarding school is a big change.

“Summer camp couldn’t have prepared me for something like this—having a roommate,” he says. “It makes me have a lot more respect for people because I can see what my roommate’s doing all of the time. And we see people and just see an outcome, but I get to see how they work, the whole process, not just what is visible to the public.”

Being involved in sports at Dublin has also given Bostrup the chance to meet upperclassmen and to make friendships with people outside of his classes or dorm. He participated in Cross Country in the fall and is currently in Snowboarding. (“In the spring, I plan on doing Ultimate Frisbee. I’ve been told that’s where it’s at.”)

“The sports are so much more fun. Having the sports be required is a blessing that some consider a curse, but that’s none of my business. It gets us out and lets us meet new people and see new places, like different mountains for snowboarding.”

In classes, Bostrup feels motivation and curiosity unlike any he has felt before in the classroom.

“In all of my classes, I am so much more willing to work,” he says. “It’s surprising. I can’t really explain why. It may be the smaller classroom environments. Even if I don’t love a topic, teachers make it fun. They want you to do things and have discussions and be involved.”

With the building blocks of meaningful friendships, enjoyable athletics, and inspiring classes, Bostrup finds himself thinking to the future and thinking not just about who he is—but who he can be.

“This year, I want to improve myself and also the things I do,” he says.

“I want to practice guitar more and my ultimate frisbee skills,” he starts.

“Another goal is I want to know what to say,” says Bostrup. “I don’t want to just give someone a hug whenever they’re feeling sad. I want to learn what to say to support my friends. In Outliers, I learned that you just have to work on it, whatever it is. You have to put in effort and time you have to ask, ‘do I really want to do it?’ Learning to talk to people and relate better is going to take a while. It’s not going to happen in one day or even next week. It’s like guitar; you have to just keep working at it.”

Bostrup looks forward to doing this hard work.

When it comes to advice to new freshmen at boarding school, Bostrup says this: “You have a fresh start. You have something you don’t really get often. You have a second chance. Also, just because they call you ‘freshies’ doesn’t mean [the upperclassmen] hate you. They were exactly like you when they were in ninth grade.”

It’s hard to guess where he’ll be in four years. But Bostrup is certain of one thing.

“When I am a senior, I hope that I’m known as a good person. More than grades, more than skills, I want to be known as a good person because that is way more important than anything in life,” he says.

Rachael Jennings