Summer Sixteen

 

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Alas, September is here. And that means summer is officially over. Over. Well at least in California it is. I hear on the East Coast, they don’t start until after Labor Day. Am I jealous? Maybe just a little.

This summer was beyond extraordinary. Yes, I’ve been saying that every summer since 2014, but in my defense, each one just keeps getting better. I had the amazing opportunity to attend Stanford University’s High School Summer college this summer and I could not have asked for a better 8 weeks. Before I left, many wrinkled their noses at me and asked why I chose to take more school during my no-school period. Well, yes I did go to school, but that’s really not at all just it.

First of all, I got to live on the most beautiful campus. From the moment I stepped onto the Farm, I was entranced, but as I was able to explore more and more parts of Stanford, I fell in love. It wasn’t just the weather, which by the way, is so beautifully unreal. It wasn’t just the gorgeous palm trees, cool breeze, or intricate buildings. I fell in love with the vibe, the culture, the people, and the way of life.

I was lucky enough to be stuck with a group of amazingly talented and interesting people, with diverse backgrounds and bright minds. We quickly became a family and formed friendships stronger than most I have held for years.

I was lucky enough to choose from a wide selection of courses and take classes that I would not otherwise have been able to. Who knew I was into etymology and classics? Not me, until I enrolled in Greek and Latin Roots of English. I thought I knew what fiction was. Apparently not because I was introduced to a whole new way of writing, reading, and thinking when I took a Fiction Writing workshop class. Both classes were taught and taken by charismatic, intelligent, and creative people. I learned much from my professors, but also from my classmates. Never had I been so excited to attend class or participate in discussions. Never had I been so intellectually stimulated. Never had I found a space where I was so interested and comfortable in academics. Were the classes difficult? At times, yes, but the challenges were all part of the thrill and I learned to appreciate them.

Most importantly, I was lucky enough to be a part of a community culture that respected diversity and tolerance. Where people from all around the globe could gather and learn from and with one another, some (like me) for the summer, and others, for years. Where learning didn’t just happen inside the classroom, but outside of it. Where I learned that many of my beliefs and views were not inclusive of the whole picture. Where listening to other people’s experiences and thoughts fed my own and helped me to understand things just a little bit more from their perspectives.

And in the end, I concede, it was very difficult to say goodbye to the new family we had just formed, but the sweetness counter-weighed the bitterness. August 13th and 14th marked the weekend I cried for almost 48 consecutive hours saying my goodbyes. As my car pulled away from the curb for the last time, I honestly thought I felt my heart break. As I boarded my flight, I felt a sinking in my stomach and had my eyes not already been swollen and puffy (seriously, my mom thought I had pinkeye when I got home) I would’ve let it all pour out again.

I’m a crier. It’s not something I’ve been able to control because when I get emotionally attached, I can rarely hold back the stream so it’s what I’ve just accepted. But I’m also a lover and I can say from the bottom of my heart that this summer has been finding new ways, things, ideas, and people to love. More than I expected and more than I signed up for.

So thanks, summer sixteen. For the ride, the lessons, and the memories. It was wonderful.

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