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THE RIGHT MOVE: McDonald College student Safia Nassar says balancing academics with dance is a challenge, but being a boarder helps, and there is plenty of time to study.

The biggest surprise for me has been learning I can push myself to limits that I never thought possible

Safia Nassar from Cooma joined The McDonald College as a Year 10 boarder last year and can't believe her luck.

Moving from the country to the city has been a big change, but it's a change that Safia feels has been immensely beneficial.

She says: "The biggest surprise for me has been learning I can push myself to limits that I never thought possible. And being here has opened up my eyes to so many more opportunities."

Safia said she immediately felt welcome, with other boarders taking her under their wing and showing her around.

She found a "bestie" straight away - a girl from Parkes in the same year, who's also in the Dance stream.

Five days a week, they take classes in jazz, ballet, hip hop and contemporary. Safia takes an elective with the Sydney Dance Company every Tuesday and hopes one day to dance with them.

Asked about how she balances academics with dance, Safia says it is a challenge - but being a boarder helps.

"We have one and half hours every night dedicated to study or prep. I get so much more done now," she said.

The boarders are expected to help with light chores around the house but, says Safia, "it's just on us to contribute".

"No one's policing it. If there's dishes out, we'll stack the dishwasher. Mum loves it when I go home now. She says 'Wow, you are a new person'."

Safia is not alone when she says the Head of Boarding Ms Rogers "is an angel".

"She treats us all equally. And she just gets us," Safia said. Safia's younger brother, who's in Year 7 in Cooma, is joining the College next term.

"He's developed a passion for music and I'm sure he'll love it," she said.

Safia said any families considering boarding at The McDonald College should take a tour.

"If your child is passionate about performing arts, tennis or gym - or their academics - and you think they might be suited to the school, you just have to come, it's honestly the best."

You will find The McDonald College at 17 George Street, Strathfield. They are hosting an open morning on Thursday, May 5. For enrolment information you can phone 9752 0500 or visit their website at