My love-hate relationship with science began when I was ten years old.
My aunt gave me an encyclopedia for my birthday and, having read it, I begged my mom for another one. I got a three-inch thick book with a dictionary to go with it, and I was happy.
Then my relationship progresses — let’s fast-forward to seventh grade.
My local school here in Russia has a wonderful physics teacher — but I realized that much, much later. In seventh grade, while studying physics laws and haunted by equations I couldn’t understand, everything that had to do with physics (including my precious encyclopedias) now embodied everything bad there was in the world.
Eighth grade — hello, chemistry.
My only solace was biology, and even in that field I didn’t have that much enthusiasm.
So, how did I get to the point where I watch PBS SpaceTime every other day?
It all started when I got a C in my term grade for chemistry. That pissed me off big time. I was by no means a straight-A student, but I’d always managed to keep my grades relatively high. So I took my textbook and spent six hours trying to figure out why this happens:
4P + 5O2 = 2P2O5
Seriously, I couldn’t get it. And that was after a year of studying chemistry.
When I finally discovered the truth, I actually taught myself to love the subject and even got an A on a chemistry exam in ninth grade. I made an effort in physics. I learned to solve simple and not-so-simple problems.
All was well. Until Voldemort came in the form of a science professor in the first semester of university.
The whole department of International Journalism first-years wondered why we had to have science when we were supposed to be doing creative work, why the professor made fun of us and downright humiliated us when we displayed complete lack of knowledge in elementary physics/chemistry/biology, and most of all why anyone would be forced to have an exam with this man when there were stories of people retaking it 16 times. That’s a bit harsh, no?
Professor Schitz’s class was first on Monday, and every Monday my fellow students would agree — Schitz happens.
PUN WHOLEHEARTEDLY INTENDED
I did nothing the whole semester. I’m a bad, bad student.
When it was time for the exam, I felt like a million violent chemical reactions were happening in my veins. I was worried, nervous, scared, no, terrified, and I took all useful information I could find while preparing and placed it into one Word file, which turned out to be 85 pages long. I still remember the profuse thanks of my friends when I shared it with them.
But we still felt really deep in shit.
I remember the dark corridor, the cold classroom, the sheer joy I felt when I got a question pertaining to physics and not biology (as I hadn’t studied it that well). Having written everything I know about cosmic background radiation, I awaited the verdict. Professor Schitz invited me into the room, and, after a pleasant chat about space and the creation of our universe, he asked,
“Are you satisfied with 61?” (any grade below 60 means you fail)
YES, DAMMIT, I AM! shouted my consciousness.
“Yes,” I squeaked and exited the room with a stupid grin on my face.
Only nine people passed, including me, in our group of 26 students. The rest made it through the arduous retaking process.
But then… The second semester started and first thing on Monday is now my favorite subject, History, and I… miss science. And Professor Schitz. I miss his funny way of explaining things, I miss him implying that our intellect is lower than that of a third-grader, I miss the parts of his presentation when he would interrupt his speeches about science and show us not-so-well-known-but-still-masterpieces of famous artists — and proceed to mock us for not knowing even that.
So I find myself today watching YouTube videos about physics, reading Steven Hawking and musing about the expansion rate of our Universe.
Life is weird but fun.