Alexandra is a 16-year-old coming to Explo at Yale for the first time after attending Explo at Wellesley last year. She's been figure-skating since the age of three, and loves taking fashion courses here at Explo — a profession she might pursue after high-school.

Is this your first time here?
No, it’s my second summer, but my first at Yale. The campus is a lot bigger here, which I like — there’s more room to explore. And the students have a lot more freedom here. Everyone is older and more mature.

What courses are you taking?
I’m taking Fashion Challenges, Interior Design, Mosaics and Intermediate Tennis. In my fashion class, we’ve been making mood boards, dresses out of garbage bags, and also handbags out of upcycled shirts.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done this week in class?
Definitely making the mood boards in Fashion Challenges. It’s a collage where you pick a theme and then find pictures that match the theme. Let’s say you pick black and white for your theme. You would cut pictures out of magazines that match your theme and then rearrange them in a specific way so it helps your client get what they’re looking for.

The instructors engage you with activities instead of you sitting in a chair all day listening to them talk. They make learning fun.

What are your favorite subjects in school?
That’s a tough one. I think I would have to pick language arts — meaning English — and math.

How do the courses here compare to school?
They’re much more fun — just a lot better in general. It’s not lecture-based like you would get in school. The instructors engage you with activities instead of you sitting in a chair all day listening to them talk. They make learning fun.

What do you do for fun?
I play tennis for the school team, I run track, and I competitively figure skate, which I’ve been doing since I was three. We do different events in each competition — so there’s interpretive, footwork, artistic, lyrical, and others in each competition. We have at least seven routines for competitions usually. In track, I run the 100 meter, 200 meter, and the 100 meter hurdles.

That's great! How’s your living group?
I like them a lot. Everyone is really nice and we all bonded really well. On the first day, we were all kind of quiet, but then as the days went on we got to know each other better — it’s a really good way to connect with people on a deeper level.

And the staff?
All of them are really nice, but I especially love my Residential Advisors. And all my teachers so far and everyone I’ve run into on the Quad have been really great.

What’s it like to meet people and make friends at Explo?
It’s really cool because there are people from all over the world — like in my living group, I made a friend from France. It’s just cool to get to know then and learn what they like to do in different countries. It’s just really nice to have people from all these different places so we can learn things about them and get to know people who aren’t from our part of the world.

Do you feel like you’ve changed or grown because of your time here?
I feel like I’ve become more independent. They expect us to come to check-ins on time and to wake up on time, so we have to learn to be responsible. We learn to be there when needed and do what’s expected of us on our own. Also I’ve gotten to branch out a bit and try new things that I’ve wanted to try out before but never got the chance to. For example, I’m now starting to get really into fashion and interior design, and here I can take classes about those topics. After high-school, I’m thinking about going into the fashion world — that or teaching younger kids.

How would you describe Explo?
It’s a great environment — everyone’s really nice across the board. If you get into the program, you’re going to have a lot of fun and make a lot of new friends from all over the world. I’ve had a really good experience in the two years I’ve been here.

Any final thoughts?
I think that this is a really good overall experience to have because you can get a feel for college life and get to know what it's like to live in dorms and take classes in a college setting.