Every country girl walking around the 20-hectare campus of Pymble Ladies' College appreciates the wide verandahs, the sweeping lawns, the verdant gardens and the proliferation of eucalypts.
Principal Vicki Waters said it was hard to believe that the "big smoke" of Sydney was on the school's doorstep, just half an hour by train and about 20 kilometres by road to the CBD.
"More than half the girls who board at Pymble come from regional and agricultural families, so our small on-site farm with steers, sheep, ducks and chickens, is a familiar and popular feature," Mrs Water said.
Year 11 student Isabel Wilson comes from Narromine and believes boarding at Pymble has nurtured her country upbringing, while also opening her eyes to a world of academic, sporting, social, cultural and global possibilities.
"The physical space of Pymble, the trees, the sky, the big spaces, reminds me of life at home in the country and I feel like I can relax and breathe," Isabel said.
"From the moment I arrived at Pymble in year 7, I have always felt the support of a village around me, my family back home is only a phone call away, the amazing boarding staff and day school staff, my boarding sisters and day friends."
The key attraction for boarders, though, is the quality of the education they receive, the friendships that they make and the warm support making their boarding experience a real home away from home.
"When younger girls first arrive, they join our 'Big Sister' program, where an older boarder becomes their mentor, helping with homework, getting organised, making friends and even homesickness," Mrs Waters said.
Through the Boarding Family Friends program, families of day students help new boarding students settle into their first few terms at the college. Boarders soon find their feet, joining sporting teams and enjoying the pool and gym and tennis courts and the many opportunities at the school.
The Live It-Love It-Learn It program teaches girls skills like cooking, links boarders to the school community and gives them fun weekend and evening outings. Girls enjoy a quality evening study program that supports and extends their daytime learning and teaches crucial study skills.
Through the Boarding Parent Group and the Boarders' Representative Council, girls and their families also play an important part in the decision-making and strategic development for the boarding program.