After spending a full three weeks at Brown University’s Pre-College Program from July 23rd to July 12th, I’m still suffering from a particularly severe and self-diagnosed case of PSBD (Post Summer at Brown Disorder). While I’m fairly certain that the only cure is for me to get on the next plane to Rhode Island and relive the whole experience, the next best thing I can do is write about my trip in the hopes that other aspiring high school students can undergo the same positive change and transformation that I saw in myself after spending the summer abroad.
My enrollment at Brown’s Pre-College Program enabled me to take college-level classes on personality psychology with 11 other students from Turkey, Colombia, the United States, China, and Lebanon. Each day, I would take the 15-minute walk from my dorm to my classroom wondering what strange topic I’d be learning about for the next three hours.
Once my professor decided to show us disturbing video clips of serial killers’ behavior and PET scans of their brains. This was so we could make the connection between their personalities and their inability to control the limbic system of the brain, which determines their reactions to situations that induce anger or rage. I couldn’t help but point out that I could actually see certain psychopathic tendencies in some of my family members and friends, to which my professor laughed and told me that such similarities were always to be expected while studying psychology. This happened again another time, when after learning about the mental state of “learned helplessness,” I finally found the perfect term to describe my defeatist attitude towards physics and higher level math.
Throughout the course I learned so much about everything that makes us who we are, from the way our personality develops to the significant influence that our personalities have on our lives. But amidst the countless essays, readings, and group presentations, what I loved most about Brown’s Pre-College Program was that I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to outside of class.
I wish I could go back to my routine of walking around the campus and Thayer Street every night with my friends, an experience that was always cut short by the 5 minutes before curfew that found us sprinting to our dorms as fast as we could with our bubble tea and post-dinner snacks in hand. When I walked down Thayer Street for the first time, I swear I could hear the mystical voices of Chipotle, Ben and Jerry’s, and Urban Outfitters calling me from every which direction. Ben and Jerry’s became a daily stop for me every day on the way to each of my classes, and this may or may not be one of the reasons why I gained 7 pounds (!) at the end of my three weeks.
More than anything, what I really miss most about Brown is the inexhaustible vibrancy of life and the promising air of hope that I felt no matter what I did or where I chose to go.
At Brown, I had met and surrounded myself with people from all over the world, fused together by the prospect of growing and developing through a whole new world of education and experience. Just the mere act of being able to walk through Brown’s quaint red brick buildings was enough for me to realize that there was nothing stopping me from working towards this dream that I had once considered intangible and barely within reach. Now that Brown’s Pre-College Program has given me the opportunity to experience exactly what I’m working towards, I’m more driven than ever to challenge myself and redefine what I’m capable of achieving in my last two years of high school.
This summer, I urge you to do the same.
For additional information on Brown’s Pre-College Program: