"2 weeks is only 14 days. That’s not a long time, right?"

Emilie Kilfoil
Ohio, USA

That’s what I thought before I left for Yale. That’s what I thought as I packed 3 pairs of shoes instead of 4 and as I cut my family’s hugs a couple seconds short in the airport. Two weeks isn’t enough time to get homesick, I thought, trying desperately but unsuccessfully to ease my growing anxiety at the thought of leaving for 2 weeks.

I had spent weeks writing and editing the essays that had merited me a spot in the PLE session of YYGS, and I was overjoyed when I learned I had been accepted. Somehow, though, I hadn’t considered the fact that attending would require leaving for 2 weeks – which, to me, sounded like a lifetime.

While my school provides some opportunities for elective classes, I didn’t have a lot of experience in politics, law, or economics. I was also unconsciously ignorant of current events. There was clearly a lot to be learned from YYGS. Little did I know, however, that my mind would be stretched and strengthened in far more profoundly it ever could be in a traditional classroom.

Among the many benefits that I gained were an acute appreciation for culture and a newly discovered passion for discussion. The best part of the program, however, were the people I met. Despite the representation of a seemingly endless amount of cultures, every student at YYGS shared one thing: unbridled passion. Perhaps our individual interests differed, but this uniting facet of every YYGS participant served as a bridge between us. Everyone came to the program with the same zeal for learning, sharing opinions, and listening to the perspectives of others, but from a background that was uniquely their own. As a result, I met people that were just like me, but, at the same time, nothing like me at all.

Incredibly, the discussion was not limited to the classrooms. From the courtyard of JE to the walk to Harkness Hall, from the buffet in the dining hall to the line at Shake Shack, the passion of YYGS students radiated throughout New Haven. It wasn’t uncommon to continue the lecture discussion outside of its hall, but shortly following that conversation would be a new one, on “what makes you happy” or “why Drake is better than Macklemore.” In a new city, in an unfamiliar and ambitious college environment, we were doing more than finding our way around. We were finding ourselves.

But alas, the 2 weeks came to a close. We were forced to return to our respective corners of the globe, hours apart by plane or train or car. We returned to our friends and families and, for many, college applications. We returned to life as we had known it before, and it wasn’t really different from before we had left. But, while our circumstances hadn’t changed, the way that we viewed them certainly had. During our time at YYGS, we had been strengthened and yet humbled by this community of scholars, where competition was eclipsed by collaboration, and where concession in debate never translated to defeat. In a similar way, I don’t believe YYGS changed me as a person; rather, it brought out the best parts of who I already was.

So, no – 2 weeks is not a long time. In fact, it’s not nearly enough time.

It’s certainly enough to develop the most enduring friendships with some of the greatest people you’ll ever meet, enough to get contact information, birthdays, and favorite songs. It’s enough to acquire a sensitive insight into the world around you, enough to initiate a plan for return. It’s enough time to recognize the importance of pursuing your passions and forgetting about everything else. But, after spending time at a place like Yale, with scholars of unparalleled intellectual and interpersonal caliber, I don’t think that there is any amount of time that could ever be enough.

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