THE ADVENTURES OF
How a 12 year old managed to talk her parents into letting her study abroad.
words by Jolen Polyack • image by Frankie Leal
IT WAS THANKSGIVING, 2011 WHEN THE EGGMAN FAMILY of Kingsburg Decided To spend the holiday in London, England. At the time, parents Michael and Stacey Eggman had no idea what the trip would lead to. Most 12 year olds ask their parents for things like an Xbox, new clothes or even a new pet, but their daughter, Saylor Eggman, had loftier ideas as a result of their holiday.
Because Stacey works for a major airline, she and her family are able to travel all over the world without paying airfare. The family is used to travelling and seeing new things. But there was something about London. Then 12 year old daughter Saylor Eggman became fascinated with the area. She said, “I fell in love with the place. I wanted to experience the culture longer than just a week.”
That got her thinking. If she went to boarding school, she could stay there for an entire school year. She began to list the things she would want in a school, such as swimming, drama, music and water polo. She said, “I researched schools around London and decided on three possible ones. It took a lot of thinking and planning on how I would talk my parents into it. I created a Power Point presentation and listed all of the reasons why I should be allowed to go to school there for my 8th grade year. I had to wait until they were both home. They were both sitting in the living room and I brought my lap top in where they were sitting and said,’ I could go to school in London. ‘ And then just walked them through the presentation.”
According to Stacey, “Saylor walked into the living room and just announced that she wanted to go to school in London. We let her have the entertainment of asking and showing us her presentation. She had details on every aspect, such as whether she liked the uniforms, if the cost of the uniform was included or not, if the cost of books was included, the pros and cons, what they had to offer, how often they went to school, what universities they feed into. She said that it made sense to go as an 8th grader, before she began high school back here. She said she wanted to go to Oxford for college, so thought it would boost her chances. Her presentation lasted about 30 minutes. When she left the room, Michael and I never even talked about it. “
Saylor was undaunted by her parent’s lack of enthusiasm. It turned out that one of her top three choices, King Edwards School Whitley, in Surrey (1 hour away from London) was having an Open Morning two months later. She asked her parents if they could go. Stacey said, “I happened to be off work, so we said sure. Michael and I were intrigued at this point. But the only reason we went was that I had the weekend off and wanted to go somewhere, so it was a good excuse.”
While touring the school. Michael and Stacey thought it would be a great opportunity for her, but still only slightly contemplated the idea. After all, there were only three spots available for her age and sex, so they still didn’t believe it was even plausible. But Saylor applied anyway. The school allowed her to take the placement tests at a school in Kingsburg and then a King Edward School official interviewed her over the phone.
Stacey was in New York when she received the email. Saylor had been accepted. “I texted Michael ‘Do we tell her or not?’ Michael said we had to tell her. He was with Saylor having dinner at a restaurant. I sent her the email and Michael watched her reaction. She had tears in her eyes. And we knew there was no way we wanted to stop her at that point. It just happened so fast and she left for London and I never officially even said it was ok.”
Saylor describes the events as follows, “They said OK, because they didn’t think that I would get in and I did, so then they were like, ‘oh.’ I had been at a water polo tournament at the time, Dad and I went to dinner and Mom forwarded the email to me. I was really shocked, I was so happy and I cried. They were shocked and happy and proud as well.
“I packed and went in early September. Mom and Dad went to drop me off. I felt like it wasn’t real, I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was kind of scary worrying about like who am I going to eat dinner with, am I going to be alone? Everyone was really friendly and my roommate was very nice and we stuck together. She was from the area. Eventually I made other friends too, from all over the world.
“I liked the sense of learning a new culture. Many of the words are different than ours. I liked making friends that I’ll have for a lifetime, and will be able to visit in other countries.
“The only thing I didn’t like was the food, but I got used to it. They used a lot of curry and I don’t like curry, but it got better as I got used to it. I’m glad to be home, but I wanted to stay as well, I’ll miss my friends. “
Saylor’s advice to anyone who wants to try something like this is to, “Make the most of it – you’ll have so much fun. Experience everything that you can – go to towns, go to historical things, on your breaks, stay with a friend and have them show you around London. It’s so different to see London with people from there instead of with your parents.”
Stacey described her thoughts on the entire year, “She has always been extremely independent. She went to camp on her own when she was eight. She didn’t want to go with Kingsburg people; she wanted to go alone to meet new people. We expect that out of her because she always has been on her own.
“I was happy for her, but I didn’t want her to be away. I knew she could handle it, I didn’t think I could. Before I knew it she was leaving. When we took her, I didn’t think I would make the flight back. Michael said ‘Don’t let her see you cry.’ When we were at the school she met her roommate and just took off. She had the biggest smile on her face. That smile on her face, she was so happy, that it calmed me down. I would do it all over again. If I didn’t miss her so much, I would have let her stay. It was such an amazing experience for her and she grew so much. We would never had considered it if my job didn’t allow the travel. As it was, I visited her 11 times while she was there.”
Saylor is back in Kingsburg now and attending University High School on the California State University Campus. She selected UHS because of their music program. Apparently, Saylor is on a lucky streak, since there were only a limited amount of available spots at the school, and she was selected by lottery.
Whatever Saylor decides to do next, it’s probably safe to assume that she will somehow make it happen. Whether it’s luck, perseverance, or something else, we can all learn something from Saylor’s pursuits.