The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School


Stories from Paul M. ’26’s Year Abroad in Scotland


It’s the question that has been on all of our minds for these first two months of school: Where in the world is Paul M. ’26? The sophomore is spending his school year studying abroad at Dollar Academy, a co-educational semi-boarding (meaning they have both day and boarding students) school in Scotland! The school gets its name from the Latin word dolor which means “pain,” but as he recently told the Tatler in an interview over Zoom, his first two months there have been anything but painful. 


Jackson B. ’25 (JB): How did you find out about Dollar Academy, and what motivated you to pursue a year abroad?

Paul M. ’26 (PM): The choice was mostly made because of bagpiping. My dad’s side is Scottish, and my grandfather and great-uncle both went to boarding school in Scotland and were pipers there. A lot of schools in Scotland have pipe bands. However, I found out about the school [Dollar Academy] through my brother, who plays the bagpipes himself and also spent a year abroad at the same Academy. The school itself has a really competitive piping program and has won seven out of the last eight Juvenile grade world championships. So, as I was really getting into more pipe band competitions, my brother started to tell me about all the experiences he had in the school’s pipe band and playing in Scotland. Listening to him, I thought, “Man, is that cool!”, and when the school reached out with a scholarship, I decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up.


JB: So interesting! Including pipe band practice, what does a typical day at Dollar Academy look like?

PM: House parents will come around the boarding house at 7:20 a.m. everyday, so you’re up by then and preparing for breakfast and the school day. I mean, breakfast is the best meal of the day here. You get the full Scottish breakfast: eggs, haggis, potato scones, black pudding, sausage, roasted tomato, etc. School starts at 8:45 a.m. everyday, and you have fifteen minutes of “registration” (their form of advisory), so classes really start at nine. You have two or three classes before lunch, when most of the clubs happen. Most days during lunch, I go to pipe band practice. Then, you return to classes before the day ends at 3:25 p.m. After school, most kids play sports: the big ones here are rugby, soccer, and field hockey. I’m not playing any sports, but on Wednesdays, I have pipe band practice for two hours. Then, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the boarding students have a period called “prep” when students do their homework. It’s nice to have everyone around you focused at the same time rather than partying.


JB: Speaking of homework, how are the classes there compared to Lakeside? What classes are you taking?

PM: I’m taking six classes right now: Maths, Latin, Economics, Physics, Computing Science, and English. The Scottish system is very different, though, from anything in the U.S. In Scotland, the education system is called the Scottish Qualifications Authority and — this is going to make it sound a lot worse than it is — it’s kind of like the U.S. system, but your final exam in May or June is 100% of your grade, and every student in the country has the same final test for their classes. In that way, there’s a little bit more pressure there than at Lakeside, but it’s consolidated. But the system teaches you good habits of preparation and long-term goals. 


JB: Beyond the classes, how’s the atmosphere at Dollar?

PM: Oh, it’s beautiful; it’s so peaceful. Dollar Academy isn’t in Glasgow or Edinburgh, which both obviously have their own charm, but the school is surrounded by so much nature and history. We’re right next to this mountain range called the Ochil Hills, and there’s an old castle from the Campbell clan that’s only a ten-minute walk from the school. We get a lot of freedom to walk around after school and on the weekends, so I really like spending my time in the Hills or in the town.


JB: Finally, what’s a favorite moment from your first two months?

PM: It has to be a concert with the pipe band I did two weeks into the school. We got booked to play at a car show at this super posh house — or really, almost an estate — in rural Scotland, and there were all these old, classic cars there. So, we marched through the gates and were piping in these special uniforms, and when we were done playing, the guy who had organized the event invited us to stick around. So we did! They had some really cool cars, great snacks (one of my favorites was a haggis ball that they had), and I won’t say his name, but one of Queen Elizabeth II’s cousins was there. Most of my fondest memories have been with the pipe band performing for events like Inspection Day and Parent Night at the school.


JB: Any parting words, especially for other students potentially interested in studying abroad?

PM: If you’re interested, pursue it! Regardless of how long you go for, I think it’s such a valuable experience, and it really just broadens your perspective on the world. When everyone is calling it “football” and you’re calling it “soccer,” for example, those differences make you reflect and  appreciate your own weirdness. Suddenly, things that were normal for you aren’t anymore; you  become a weirdo, but it’s cool. 


This interview has been edited for clarity.

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About the Contributor
Jackson B. ’25
Jackson B. ’25, News Editor
Conceitedly, his favorite month is December As his birthday falls in December 2006 And even more, his favorite holiday is that of December 25 As he loves the ambiance of Christmas   He has lived in Seattle since he was six Before moving to New York for two years He mistakenly subscribes to East Coast, Best Coast Any reasonable protests fall on deaf ears   One hobby of his is learning new languages The three he speaks are English, Spanish and Portuguese He especially likes words that don’t translate well Pursuing oddities is his expertise   He also enjoys Model United Nations For which he says he has a message to relay If you ever find yourself in its midst The only appropriate response is to run away   In his first two years as a staff writer He wrote and researched as hard as he could Now rewarded with the role of News editor He says he feels very Good.

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