It wasn't until Sheree McDonald watched her parents' car disappear down the long, tree-lined drive that leads from the Boarding House at Methodist Ladies' College that she realised she was actually staying.
The Northam vet says that moment was "pretty intense."
"I was originally in denial about going to boarding school. I loved our farm," Dr McDonald said.
"It was a huge culture shock from being on the farm in Newdegate to be in the middle of Claremont."
That was in February 2002. Methodist Ladies' College became home for the teen for the next five years.
Director of Boarding Elaine Riley says it's a scenario she has seen many times. To help the new girls settle, she assigns each of them an older buddy.
"The girls form strong bonds with each other. It's like an extension of their own families," Mrs Riley said.
MLC's Boarding House is currently being upgraded and the boarders are now benefitting from the recently installed reverse-cycle air conditioning.
"Girls have been boarding at MLC for more than 100 years, and we need to ensure that their home-from-home is as comfortable and welcoming as possible," Mrs Riley said.
"The ongoing work on the boarding facilities will ensure that we're around for at least another 100 years."
MLC doesn't only offer a safe and friendly home life for the girls it provides nutritious meals, guidance, camaraderie, friends for life and those all-important out-of-school social activities.
The boarders enjoy trips to the cinema, special events, horse-riding, 10-pin bowling, kayaking and sport in their spare time. Unlike most boarding schools, this is included in the boarding fee.
"The boarding house was always very committed to getting us to our weekend sporting events and training. I think that is really important," Dr McDonald said.
Dr McDonald says boarding at MLC taught her a lot about independence and opened her eyes to the world beyond Newdegate. But, she says, she knew she would always return to her rural roots.
She moved to Northam with her dog, Tilly, and her horse, Bo.
"I love living in the country, and I really enjoy working with large animals, so going back to the country was always a given for me," Dr McDonald said.
"I enjoy working with small animals, but I think the variety with large animals makes the job more exciting, plus out here I have open spaces, no traffic jams, and get to ride my horse in my free time."