December 11, 2015
By Samuel Lin SPI 15 from California
It’s been exactly one hundred and twenty-three days since my two weeks at Yale Young Global Scholars. One hundred and twenty-three days since I’ve seen some of my best friends in the entire world (who, I should note, have Snapchat streaks numbering over one hundred days now), one hundred and twenty-three days since I’ve learned more about Vannevar Bush than I ever thought possible, and one hundred and twenty-three days since I’ve gotten the amazing privilege to learn, debate, work, and simply live with two hundred of the most amazing teens in the world. My two weeks as a Yale Young Global Scholars were the most amazing and rewarding of my life—and here I’m going to say why in the most easily digestible form of information know to man: the top ten list. So without further ado, here are the top ten reasons why YYGS was the best two weeks of my life and why I’m sure they’ll be the best two weeks of yours as well.
1. Non-stop everything
Many summer programs run for four to six weeks, but YYGS is different. It condenses everything into a short two weeks, but during these two short weeks everything comes at you non-stop. From lectures to seminars to tours, everything that happens within these two weeks will be new and exciting, but at the end of the day might just leave you gasping for air—which brings me to my next point.
2. Daily free time
Every day is packed to the brim with activities, but that just makes the couple hours of free time you have at the end of everyday that much sweeter. At the end of a day of academic excitement, everyone’s ready for some time to unwind, and there’s no shortage of options to do so. Many opt for evening runs around the beautiful campus (as I did), but just as many choose to round the corner to Insomnia Cookies, where the intoxicating smell of fresh-baked snickerdoodles is only augmented but the temptation of an ice cream sandwich. Ferocious games of ping-pong and pool are always an option in the basement of your residential college, as well as just relaxing on the beautiful college courtyard’s cool grass. The choice is yours! (Which, again, brings me to my next point).
All six sessions of YYGS cover huge topics, from Politics, Law, and Economics to Biology and Biomedical Sciences. Within these huge topics there are a million topics to discover, and YYGS recognizes the diversity of the two hundred participants’ interests. While lectures are the same for all participants, discussion sections, seminars, and tours are personalized. About a month or two before the start of your sessions, you’ll get to choose from an endless array of seminars and tours. From there, you can tailor your YYGS experience to your own unique interests.
4. Residential Life (in suites, particularly)
While there are parts of YYGS that are entirely up to you, residential living is one part that isn’t—and that’s almost certainly for the best. When you get to YYGS, you’ll be living in a suite of around six to seven, with whom you’ll share a common room and a huge part of the YYGS experience. As YYGS is of course a global program where about half the participants are from outside the US, living with people your own age from different countries is a hugely valuable experience that’s hard to find elsewhere.
5. Family Time
It can be hugely intimidating walking into a program and knowing no one (although hopefully you’ve met them virtually via the YYGS Facebook group), and making friends with them can be even harder. While everyone I encountered at YYGS was more than inviting, for those not particularly outgoing, families and family time can be one of the highlights of your YYGS experience. At the start of the program, you’ll be matched along with a group of around seven other participants to a YYGS Instructor, who’s typically a Yale undergraduate or graduate student. That Instructor will become your Family Leader; taking you and your fellow participants around Yale’s campus and the surrounding area, discussing lectures and seminars, and generally fostering a sense of community. In short, families are a set group of friends, all ready to go and waiting for you at the start of the YYGS.
6. The Talent Show
Just being invited to attend YYGS is a huge testament to one’s academic prowess, but after the first day or two you’ll start to learn that people here are talented in more than just academics. From people jamming in the common room’s grand pianos to beautiful a cappella singing in the courtyard at night, you’ll catch glimpses of your fellow participant’s amazing talents —but the talent show is where you’ll get the whole shebang. Dancers, rappers, classical pianists, Chinese yoyo-ers —if you can name it, someone will probably be performing it (and blowing your mind in the process). But of course, the talent show is only the beginning of the bittersweet end of the program.
7. The Last Night
The talent show, placed on the second-to-last night, signals the end of your two weeks at Yale. But the very last night is without a doubt one of the best (and worst) parts of going to YYGS. From an ice cream social to a karaoke party to ordering that last batch of Insomnia Cookies, you can make your last night anything you want, all the way until the extended curfew of 2:30. In other words, make the night last as long as you can because unfortunately when you wake up YYGS will be over.
8. The Food
There are two types of people in this world: those who eat to live and those who live to eat. I’m definitely in the latter group. At Yale, you’ll be fed amazing food from the dining halls in addition to other delicious-ness from shops and restaurants in New Haven, ranging from Ashley’s Ice Cream to Shake Shack. We’d probably all like to say that food is the least of our concerns, but let’s face it: we all love food. You won’t disappointed when you come to YYGS.
9. The People
Now we’re getting into (slightly) more serious territory. As important as food is, the real reason why you’re coming to YYGS is for the people. You wouldn’t really expect how easily and strongly people from literally all over the world can bond in just two weeks, but you’ll see it experience it for yourself here. The people you hear asking the most interesting, thought-proving questions during lectures are going to be the same people who you’re going to be bonding with over froyo during free time. That’s the magic of YYGS - it’s the perfect blend of challenging learning and chill fun.
10. The Place
Of course this is a huge part of the YYGS experience: living on Yale’s campus in a historic residential college. From relaxing in the buttery to working in Bass Library, you’ll experience everything that a Yale undergraduate does, getting a taste of what life for Yalies is like. Bottom line: come to YYGS, and you’ll never want to leave.