By Eunice Lai, Summer Times Staff Writer

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” – Elizabeth Foley

It’s been 32 days since we arrived and it’s time to say goodbye to all the friends who helped make this summer an unforgettable one, the bed that (hopefully) allowed you to have a good night’s sleep, and the different buildings that we had to rush in between to prevent the dreaded early check-in. Some of us might visit PEA again in the near future, while others might never come back. It’s remarkable how much we learned and grew over this short one month away from our parents. We’ll take a walk down memory lane as we revisit our experiences.

On July 1st, we stumbled off our respective buses, dragging our heavy luggage as we stepped foot onto the beautiful campus of Phillips Exeter Academy. Everyone was scrambling around looking for their dorms and the bookstore to buy their ludicrously expensive textbooks while others lined up to go to Walmart to satisfy their incessant cravings for various snacks. As everyone settled in, we were called down for the first dorm meeting where we met the people we would be living with for the next few weeks. That night, most of us called home to reassure our parents that we are alive and well, and instantly fell asleep as our head hit the pillow after a long exhausting day.

The next few days went by in a blur, with everyone figuring out their friend groups and learning their way around the expansive campus. Most of us did the swim test (and passed) while others just watched from the sidelines. Field Day would have been a blast, if it wasn’t for the horrible weather, and the carnival in the gym was…interesting, but perhaps it wasn’t worth the heat.

Week two came around, and we finally became accustomed to boarding school life and the same mundane food from the cafeteria. We got used to morning rush to get to class and the long lines at the crowded Grill. The Upper School students went to the college fair, talking to representatives from some of the top schools in the nation, as the Access kids played exhilarating games during Game Room Night. Over the weekends, we celebrated the Fourth of July with the locals, the New Hampshire way.

As we reached the middle of the month, the days seemed to slow down, and the scorching sun was strong as ever. The Deans of Fun came up with fun events in an attempt to raise morale, including the spectacular Lip Sync Show, the basketball game and the West African Drumming Workshop.

The days started to speed up faster and faster, as everything started to go by in a blur. However, this was the week with the most memorable events – International Day with its ethnic foods festival and the outdoor Movie Night where we got to watch “The Greatest Showman” under the stars with our friends (and maybe even your summer sweetheart). During International Day, students from all over the world went on stage to share their culture, while some even performed a short dance. After, we got to try out exotic flavors from different countries. 

Finally, we are in the endgame, the final week, as we prepare to pack up and leave this place. It might not have sunk in that you might never see some of the people here ever again, but it’s the reality we will have to face.

As we will step back onto that bus that will bring us to the next step of our journeys, a wave of nostalgia will wash over you as you remember the memories you created with your newfound friends and the new knowledge you accumulated over the course of this summer. You’ll think about the good, and the bad times you had here as you commemorate the end of the best summer of your life.