I’m really here.

It’s been half a year since I wrote the most recent article. Unfortunately, I got rejected by my first-choice. But, still, one of my favorite universities, UCSD, selected me with a pair of wise eyes. I am here, in the most comfortable city in US, to pursue my four (or three) years’ career as a biochemistry student, and experience a lot of wonderful people and stuffs.

The last half year was busy and fulfilling. During the decision-waiting period I prepared for British and USA Biology Olympics reading Campbell Biology (That’s a great textbook!) and got the Gold Prize just right. (Though it might be a little cheaty because some lower-grade students are competing with me.) Not much inflicted by my applied universities’ admission decisions, I continued studying at Shenzhen Middle School and passed AP Psychology and Statistics exams with scores of 5. I traveled to some great sceneries in Guilin and Nanchang. These two cities were beautiful. Being a volunteer in International Botanical Congress, I made some friends, listened to lectures given by famous figures in botanical research, and knew some updated news about plant sciences. Besides, the summer vacation was the first time I earned money by having a job. I taught some students about basic STEM courses – Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology personally. I realized how arduous teachers could be: preparing for courses, checking students’ homeworks, and even solving academic and disciplinary conflicts. Nevertheless, these students were also hard-working and I could feel them trying to get track of what they study. These new knowledges were really strange and tough for them, but they can still grab the fundamental concepts. That’s statisfying.

At the present moment, the account should be reactivated, or I will feel guilty for my dear interested readers. Now I have come to the UCSD campus, and it’s time to start a new life, and here are something I’m looking forward to:

  1. Keep and refine my living and learning habits. Now I normally sleep for seven to eight hours per day, and studying normally won’t stress me. So after arriving here, I would still persist the sleeping habit. I don’t know how hard the courses will be, but I will do the best works I can.
  2. Make some foreign friends. An international student might ought to accomplish this if he or she is coming to such a university in US, so do I. There are certainly obstacles, like differences in cultures and ways of thinking. And I don’t speak English so perfectly. Still, I will try.
  3. Be fulfilled. This is not easy. I cannot do anything out of myself. There are lots of interactions between individuals, and not everyone wants to collaborate with me. But I think my friendly and cheerful nature will work.

Wish I have good times during tomorrow’s orientation!

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Pill of Immortality

(A short story inspired by Don Quixote, the famous work we learned in World Literature.)

Donny, a college student who was obsessed with chemistry, found it interesting to synthesize some new materials for pragmatic functions. However, he had always dreamed of being immortal in order to enjoy the fun from scientific explorations as well as his favorite Chinese literature. To get help, Donny told this idea to one of his friends called Bubbles. “Donny, are you crazy? There is nothing for people to get immortality. Remember what we just learned from the Epic of Gilgamesh?”

“Calm down, Bubbles.” said Donny, “You see, I am just like the wizards, creating a lot of fun stuffs for good use. If you help me with this, you will receive a big prize!”

“Well, what prize?”

“I will get you all the chemistry essays done. You know, those prompts are so easy for me that I just have to take several moments to finish them. By the way, you have to be an enchantress and treat me as a Taoist alchemist.”

Bubbles meditated for a while, “These essays are really distressing and I am even hard to keep up my schedule. Wow, it is kind of supernatural aid! So, deal.”

“All right. Let’s go to the mine for those metals.” said Donny. “Wait, where is the mine?” asked Bubbles. “It’s very close to us, and I will take you there.” They went out of the classrooms and sneaked into another building where the metals were presented.

Bubbles was stumbled. “Wait, you said this is a mine, but it’s just a laboratory of metallurgy.” Donny felt surprised, “Don’t you know that a Taoist is always going anywhere searching for something?” As they approached the reagent storage, Donny saw a material labeled “Hg” and picked up. “Hold on, you should know that mercury is extremely toxic.” Bubbles was shocked by Donny’s stupid action. At the same time, Donny picked up another heavy metal named “Pb” and said “Set a thief to catch a thief, this is what Chinese intellectuals tell us to do when it comes to medicine.”

After the expedition, Donny led Bubbles back to their building and went to the organic laboratory, where he created a lot of materials for his reputed successful research projects. “Now, inside the temple, I am going to grab some herbs and make these things into a pill of immortality.”

Bubbles was still obfuscated, but she began trying to appease Donny. “Yeah, this temple is filled with fairy’s blessing. Let’s get the pill started.” As Donny grabbed some leaves and mixed them with mercury and lead inside the pestle, Bubbles prepared for heating the “forge” – actually a crucible – to eliminate the impurities.

“The pill was refined, and I will to put it inside the forge. At the same moment when I eat the pill, you are going to incant for the input of supernatural power.” Donny threw the ball-shaped mixture into the crucible. About ten minutes later, he used tongs to pick up the pill, cooled it down, and slowly put the pill inside his mouth. Simultaneously, Melissa started to enchant, reciting the ancient text with gibberish English accent: “Hail to the Emperor of the Sky, I beg you to come down the mundane world for a little giving…”

Donny swallowed the pill, and started to relax: “The god and fairy’s humor began swerving around my body, making me feel like a paper in the air.” Suddenly, Donny fell down and lost his consciousness.

Two days later, Donny opened his eyes and found himself inside the hospital. “Oh, I am so worried about you,” said Bubbles.

Donny, was a little suspected, “Am I supposed to be immortal?”

“You are immortal?” Bubbles was astounded, “Those heavy metals almost killed you.” She paused for a few seconds, “Fortunately for you, I fed some egg whites and specific oxidants to eliminate those toxins inside your body after you fainted.”

“Oh, no. I remember that our chemistry essays are due today!”

Bubbles smiled, “It’s great that you retrieve some of your memories. But you don’t need to worry about essays now, I already have them done. Besides, I reported this case to our professor and he granted you a month off the campus. Maybe I need to rely on myself for these essays.” Her face was strung up again, “I feel sorry for my superstitions that make you a lot of troubles. However, I still want to remind you of those outdated ideologies. Even Chinese people themselves do not believe in the pill of immortality.”

“Don’t worry.” said Donny, “I guess I learned a lesson from you that these ideals are corrupted for us human beings, and I will never touch Chinese literature again.”

“Well, you do not have to be too absolute about this matter.” Bubbles said sincerely. “Some aspects of the culture may be too far from the present generation, but the remainders are still useful for dealing with many life issues. Keep your rational eyes on, and you will eventually extract the beneficial parts of the civilization.”

“Yeah, your saying is reasonable.” Donny accepted Bubbles’ idea with great admiration. “I will still keep loving Chinese literature again. This time, however, I am going to go deeper into the subject with objective eyesight. Farewell, pill of immortality!”

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New Beginnings

As an active student in high school, I am very concerned about college. I’m trying to do everything right: I keep my grades up, participate in a few extracurricular activities, prepare for standardized tests, even perform community service. I spend most days thinking about the future. Hoping that I’m on the right path, I do my best at everything I can.

Being curious about the field of biology, I get good scores as well as a great number of awards. However, I feel myself too nerdish since I only approach biology through book knowledge. Besides, I am interested in pursuing career focusing on this subject. So I decided to try to secure a spot as a volunteer at the local hospital. It would be the best of both worlds: helping people while gaining valuable on-the-job experience. I put on a nice pair of trousers, a shirt, and some comfortable shoes and went to visit the business office. Fortunately, the hospital director was quite willing to let me help out, and he said I could start that summer as soon as I finished my finals. I accepted his offer immediately, thinking to myself that here lay all the opportunities I could ever want!

Soon enough, I showed up for my first day at the hospital. The director gave me a brief tour of various departments as he told me about the primary focus of each, an expert himself in every facet of hospital administration, until we stopped right in front of the maternity ward. “This is where you’re going to work,” he said, ushering me through the brown double doors. Thinking I was going to give a hand to infants, my enthusiasm rose up my mind.

But initially, things are not what I expected. Walking into the ward, I was overwhelmed by the sounds. Women yelled and newborns wailed. Nurses rushed around to adjust medical instruments that screamed for attention. I felt besieged in the center of so much action and wondered if I had been too hasty in seeking out such a difficult service project.

Apparently my fear must have shown clearly on my face as I looked around because the director said, “Don’t worry. You’ll get used to the pace up here. You are going to help in the laboratory.” With that, we walked down a hallway filled with bright blue and pink balloons, and into the room full of experimental instruments. The pastel colors provided a quiet backdrop to the humming of machines and knocking of test tubes. A doctor, the one in charge of the lab, welcomed me, thanked me for volunteering, and asked me to start recording the data presented by an incubator with a cute baby sleeping inside of it. The director gave me a questioning look, which I returned with a quiet nod. I got right to work.

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A Story That Gets You Hooked

He became aware of his pounding headache as he regained consciousness. The enveloping darkness impeded his ability to identify his surroundings; it took him several moments to realize he was laying on the backseat of a moving vehicle. He tried to sit up and look out the window in an attempt to orient himself, but was immediately pushed back down by someone. A flash of light illuminated the interior of what he then recognized as his family’s minivan – and he noticed his mother in the driver’s seat. He sensed something was wrong. Her normally calm disposition had been replaced by one of trepidation and alarm.

“What’s go…”

“Shh! Stay down! Stay down! They can’t know you’re here! We have to get you to safety!” She whispered.

“Who can’t know…”

“Shh!”

All he could see was an unfamiliar road illuminated by the headlights.

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Open the Window

I was not courageous enough to desire sunshine. It was so grandiose and beautiful that I always quietly respect it in my heart, like worshiping divinity. However, I also feared it, feared about its grandeur and beauty. I was afraid that one day, I would be softened.

But I felt curious. “What is out of the window? Is it dim light filtered by leaves? Or a drama mixed by wind and rainfall? Or a terrible python waiting for me as a dish?”

Everyone has a window and desires what is out of it. However, few really meet sunshine. I heard that, “You should look for happiness yourself.” Indeed, although during the process of welcoming sunshine has a lot of troubles, but as I open the window, I will see a blue sky.

As a result, I stared at that mysterious window, and walked straight to it. I immediately pushed the window and, in a moment, beams of dazzling sunshine came in from the gaps of trees. The dark room instantly became so bright. To my surprise, I saw a vivid scene out of the window: Birds were singing, grasses were dancing, and the tranquil lake – touched by a naughty dragonfly – rippled again and again…

I felt fortunate that I opened the window.

Keep the Annoying Hummingbird From Singing

Like many present-day students, I regard music as a form of relaxation that provide me with a lot of joy. But in addition to listening to different kinds of music, I even “perform” it just like a hummingbird randomly singing with some casual tones. Despite my penchant for diverse music styles instead of leaning to merely one singer, I develop a habit of humming during my shower, since the relatively small room gives every kind of sound a sense of resonance, making even a breeze sounds echoic and smooth. After that I even improvise such melodies by myself, singing them aloud, and forget about them, then remake another melody when permitted. I blend classics, rocks, pops, and other forms of music that are appreciable into one single music style. Even when walking with friends, I hum the strange music out, regardless of occasions. This eccentricity, however, leads to a potential trouble.

As I was doing an English exam, I saw a question asking about Beethoven’s personal influence toward other musicians. Without thinking about my responses, I hummed Song of Joy—one of Beethoven’s most famous works—with dynamic tone. Noticing that other students stared at me surprisingly, I ceased singing and continued doing the exam.

After this incidence, I introspected myself about my inopportune behaviors. It is true that singing music could be satisfying, but occasions are also necessary to be considered. Generally said, “Bind the sack before it be full.” Mania to a seemingly positive aspect could also become destructive. Therefore, with rational manners and attitudes, I should rather pay attention to the situations, and doing it I also need to be prudent, preventing myself from being addicted to singing.

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Five Sentences Salute

I, as an active explorer of life, does various investigations for the truth behind such natural phenomena that explain the theories. Being both phlegmatic and rigorous, I does really careful during the process of experimentation. In my opinion, cultural innovations are based upon social practices, so I actually seek to utilize what I learned into the reality. Regardless of shame, contributing to the society is considered as a duty for me, whenever I am positioned. As a result, there is a encouraged teenager – me – who does industriously during campus study and confidently shape the life he is among everyday behaviors.

Do you think being helpful is a good thing?

One night, I was walking with a cola bottle on a pathway. Beneath the dizzy light, I could only feel the wind blew the trees and gave out a little sound. The leaves fell down and whispered with attrition. I rambled on the street and drank some cola. As the bottle was empty, I unconsciously threw it to the ground. Meanwhile, a cleaner appeared on the other side of the road. She was sedulously sweeping the garbage and collecting it into a large black plastic bag. With a little embarrassment, I picked up the bottle and put it into that bag. She looked at me and smiled, but the smile only lasted for several seconds, then it completely disappeared. She just went on cleaning and sweeping some fallen leaves into the dustpan.

However, this smile reminded me of something happened before. It was so familiar to me that it initiated my retrospection.

That was a Friday evening, I was standing inside a bus. It was too crowded for me to move even one step. Suddenly, there was a seat which no one was sitting on. Rapaciously, I went straight to the seat and ready to capture it. To my surprise, some milk tea was filled with the surface of the seat with some dark pearls. These pearls were rolling as if a group of black eyes were looking at me. It made me a little hesitated and at that time, I nearly lost my head.

Then, an old granny got on the bus. She was carrying a lot of scruffy bags. In the front of her head was full of frowns. Besides, white hair and dense freckles made her face looked very blurry. Since she carried so many bags, and it was a bit ridiculous of her to take them, passengers even glanced at her and mocked.

The steward began speaking loudly, “ Please give a seat to the elderly.” The voice existed for several times, and sitting people looked at each other. However, no one sat on the seats was willing to take such this action.

I saw her lumpy body was always swinging because of the change in the bus’ velocity, it was extremely ramshackle and I expected that she might fall down abruptly. To be honest, I wouldn’t let it happen, and I couldn’t see someone get injured accidentally. Therefore, I took out a pack of tissue and scrubbed that dirty seat without hesitation. I spread out one of my hands and sincerely said, “Granny, please sit on the seat, I just cleaned it, you won’t be worried about it.” She slowly walked to the seat and sat down. “Thank you.” she smiled to me, and this smile seemed unconscious. However, it also looked so naive and friendly. At that moment, my heart beat suddenly, and I felt like I was surrounded by profound pride.

Inside the other hand, the soaked tissue was still grasped. And the refreshing fragrance of milk tea blew to my whole face. I smelled it pleasantly and that odor made me feel so warm. I was not able to help smiling.

Smiles may come from everywhere, they are visceral enough to produce a large amount of positive energy, and these actions impel people to be true, good and beautiful. Giving a hand to others seems negligible, but it really gives happiness to people. Eventually, the helper can also feel enjoyable.

A Letter to My English Teacher

(Envisioning weakness of studying and practicing English, I genuinely wrote a letter to my teacher who taught me Honors English. This letter, though seemingly naïve to my present respect, really gave Elliot a deep impression.)

Dear Elliot,

I am very grateful for you that your lessons make my English better and better, and the courses are pretty interesting. I like them very much. However, I am a bit depressed because my English is not so good. Although most of students in our class got A+ in Senior-High School Entrance Examination including me, I seldom speak English with others. And the language I usually communicate with my parents is Chinese. Also, I graduated from an experimental school and I even had no opportunity to talk in English. But a large number of my classmates are all graduated from foreign language School, and they can nearly speak English every time.

At the beginning of the Honor English, I felt extremely anxious that I sometimes burst out some Chinese words unconsciously when I was speaking English. And when I heard that my classmates spoke fluently, I even wanted to punish myself because of my poor English, and I had a willing to recoil. The mark I got in TOEFL Junior is less than 800, and I understood that my English is in bottom of all the students in International System. But one of my classmates, is taught by Colin at present, has gained 117 in TOEFL. “What a intelligent genius!” I sighed after I knew that. While I am preparing for TOEFL, others are preparing for SAT. So I tried my best to improve my English, and I already have a plan to operate my time between these two exams.

What’s more, I dream to learn in one of the American universities in order to improve my academic abilities, and I can open my eyes to concern about global problems. During the courses, I found that the dream is nearer and nearer to me, and it is more likely to come true. I have been more confident after one month’s study. And I can also communicate with my classmates in English normally. I felt so happy that I made progress, and the progress is too extraordinary to imagine.

In Shenzhen Middle School, I have taken part in some organizations such as SUPER NOVA, We-Club, Model United Nations. Because these clubs are not only interesting, but also can help with my English.

And now it is 7-day-long-holiday. And I requested that I should talk with my parents in English for at least three hours per day. They agreed with me because it is a really nice idea, and my parents are well educated in English. I believe that it will be a big step of my English study, and I am looking forward to increase my abilities, too.

All in all, I really appreciate for you during this month. You are very helpful, and not strict with us. Thanks very much.

Best regards

Fan