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I was invited by the Dear World team as a VIP member at University of California, Santa Cruz.
As a chemist who has spent more than a decade studying and researching in chemistry, I still clearly remember how I fell in love with chemistry.
It is an “accident”, a failed high school chemistry exam. I was taught the concept of “mole” in the high school chemistry class on day one. I used the phrase “was taught” instead of the word “learned” because I barely learned anything then. I was so confused that I decided to procrastinate. Time flied and after one month, the first monthly chemistry exam came. My procrastination lasted until then. And not surprisingly, the only thing I could do was to stare at “weird” terminologies and to doodle things even I couldn’t understand. I handed in my exam with shaking hands and a blank mind. I could not believe that a student who had never failed a test before was going to fail an exam this time.
Back home I pondered. I blamed myself for my procrastination and started to feel panic about chemistry. I didn’t want to face it and went to bed early that day. The next day I woke up, I thought I was defeated by chemistry. But seconds later I wanted to “fight back”: I couldn’t let failure happen again. Soon the summer vacation came and the school closed. I had two months’ time for me to make changes. I bought several high school chemistry reference books and self-studied. The panic feeling came back as expected when I first encountered problems that I was unable to understand or solve. For several times, I almost gave up. But I forced myself to stay since I didn’t have time to procrastinate anymore. I can’t remember what the first question was that I worked out, but the joy of figuring out a puzzle, the feeling that “it finally clicked!” is crystal clear, as this feeling is still around during my time spent as a graduate student.
Little by little, one goes far. I gradually understand the concept of “mole” and able to work out challenging questions. The more I did, the more I felt that chemistry presented me a world full of “miracles”: it can turn inexpensive iron to valuable gold, cause fire on water when potassium is thrown in water, produce bleach when chlorine gas is mixed with sodium hydroxide and the list goes on. At the end of the summer, chemistry had been transformed from a scary monster to a wonderland for me.
The following three years spent in the high school strengthened my interest in chemistry. I was managed to get perfect scores in chemistry tests for a few times. I owe my achievements, from high school up to now, to my dedication as well as the constant encouragement from my dear high school chemistry teacher. The aforementioned story is a constant driving force that keeps me walking further in exploration of chemistry treasures.