'Boarding school' – according to the classical understanding at Salem means far more than simply a place where boarders are accommodated with their classrooms in easy reach. Here, boarding school is a place of learning sui generis, where young people live their everyday life within a large structured community, together with the adults who are responsible for them.
Firstly, the rules and structures that are developed for living this life together within a democratic framework define the boarding school as a place of learning. As a basis for this, so-called constitutions have been developed for each individual school level, appropriate for the respective age-group. Core values are mutual respect and assuming responsibility for common concerns. A large number of offices, committees and tasks form the institutional framework of the Student Council system. Particular attention is given to the way different types of food products and so-called "soft drugs" are dealt with (media, nicotine, alcohol, etc.). The students live in separate units in rooms with three or four beds. At the Upper School (Salem International College) two students share a room. Four to six rooms form a so-called 'Wing' where one 'Mentor' or 'Tutor' (at the Salem Internatinal College) is assigned to it. These staff Mentors are responsible for their Wing and have their main residence at the boarding school. As a rule they are also teachers, at the same time, and this personal union vouches for establishing a link between the educational aspect and life as a boarder. As regards the temporal perspective, a defined daily routine and a defined, rhythmic, weekly and yearly routine have proved favourable.
Secondly, the Salem boarding school life traditionally offers a wide range of learning and initiative-promoting activities - partly on a compulsory basis - that are not taught in the classroom but nonetheless provide a wealth of experience, for instance,
- the social services
- the creative activities (Musen)
- the handicraft guilds
- sport, typically in the team disciplines
- the International Student Exchange programme
- the Outdoor education
- leisure activities (usually in the evenings and at the weekends)