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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Project of Albert Camus’ The Plague

Above is our masterpiece!

(We received the project assignment at the right beginning of the new semester. This project instructed students to interpret one of the four levels operated in Albert Camus’ The Plague: Literal, political, metaphysical, and existential. We chose metaphysical. Through a week’s work for it, we accomplished an artwork. Here’s our project reflection, and two corresponding quotes that help us create our painting.)

Part 1: Reflection of The Plague Abstraction Project

Literary ideas could be simply expressed using abstract objects, such as the different levels of thoughts made in The Plague. This book operates on four lens: literal, political, metaphysical, and existential, each of which could be interpreted using different viewpoints. We selected metaphysical level to create our abstract work through the project.

This process took us about half a day to accomplish our goals. First, we brainstormed about the structure of this artwork and its corresponding properties, like colors, shapes, and some highlighted objects. Then we bought the required materials: a piece of A3 paper, pigments, water, and a paint brush. While three other students of our group have done the purchasing or explaining the ideas behind our creation, Blake worked for painting and finished it before school.

The artwork we created so far was revolved around the metaphysical lens that generally emphasizes the presence of evilness and people’s reactions toward it. Therefore, through this understanding, we attempted to create a scene that there was a red bloody background – symbolizing the deaths in The Plague – and a bar that represents Oran’s isolation. Within the bar exists a black solid circle, which is the plague itself, accompanied by various things that stretch out of the circle symbolizing different people’s reactions.

In my opinion, our portrait of this lens was successful in capturing the metaphysical lens through the coloring, shaping, and highlighting of this artwork. We could envision many different reactions in respect to the plague simply through the objects themselves. Besides the red background and the bars, the gloomy color tone also makes the audience aware that the plague puts the entire town into distress. However, since most of our objects that are attached to the black circle were based upon the main characters, our work could also be misinterpreted as portraying literal lens of the novel.

Nevertheless, I gained deeper understanding about different ways to view the novel The Plague. Instead of focusing on the written texts, I tried to convert the main ideas expressed in this novel into a simpler, abstract painting. Through the project, therefore, I knew to make what seemed complex into a vivid imagery. Moreover, I got to appreciate other groups’ works, and understood that there were other lens successfully portrayed in their paintings. Their works gave me insights about expressing different levels of meanings through abstraction.

Part 2: Analysis of quotes from The Plague in metaphysical level

Quote: Generally speaking, they did not lack courage, bandied more jokes than lamentations, and made a show of accepting cheerfully unpleasantnesses that obviously could be only passing. In short, they kept up appearances. (Part 2, Chapter 10)

Analysis: While the plague is expected to put the whole town into silence and fear, there are certain citizens who, surprisingly, would express their feelings in an extreme way. Instead of focusing on the plague, they seem to be indifferent toward its existence, pretend to continue normal lifestyles, and even accept the truth. This absurdity of actions makes us aware that different people conceptualize the world in different aspects, and thus behave distinctively to the society they perceive. They surely are the observers of this entire catastrophe, but they have different perspectives about it.

Quote: Rambert said he’d thought it over very carefully, and his views hadn’t changed, but if he went away, he would feel ashamed of himself, and that would embarrass his relations with the woman he loved. Showing more animation, Rieux told him that was sheer nonsense; there was nothing shameful in preferring happiness. (Part 4, Chapter 20)

Analysis: Confronting this plague, people may differ in their reactions throughout the passage of time. Rambert, though occasionally attempts to escape the town to seek his wife, changes his decisions through the impact of Rieux. The dynamism of his changing actions imply the transformation of his original viewpoints about the plague and the isolation of Oran. The interaction between the two characters also illustrates that in the face of evilness, they both decide to fight against the plague, though Rieux regards it as a necessary duty, while Rambert does this job through a moral conflict between rightness and wrongness.

Thank You, My Interview

This winter break, I am not relaxed. Earlier than that, I had declined my classmates’ several invitations of a trip to Japan. From the start of the break (January 12), I was just preparing for the upcoming InitialView interview in six days, and struggled for a while to think about my own words: What I could say about myself? Is it really good to say this? Will the admission office of my dream school value my speech? Sometimes I even thought whether my TOEFL Speaking score – the unchangeable label – would put stereotype threat to my interview performance.

Obviously, I took a lot of time to draft my interview according to my past events. I picked my most dedicated extracurricular activity – mangrove forest protection – as the main topic around the interview. “Whatever the interviewer’s trick is, I am going to swerve his or her interest to this activity.” Additionally, NOVA Monthly magazine club, my violin playing, as well as my campus life, are all encompassed in the big bundle of my mind. Gradually, I also got many insights beyond these activities, making me surprised about the power of introspection.

The preparation was intense, but it worth. Everyday I stared at the mirror and warned myself to be expressive. I sat in front of my father, who was, not definitely great at English, acted as my interviewer. As he questioned me about various aspects of my life, I really had to take time to process what he intended to say despite answering his “curiosities”. Nevertheless, I found myself really fluent in speaking, and whatever question my dear papa asked about, I would provide satisfactory response that was already packed in my mind full of the materials. Of course, my seniors also cordially offer their experiences last year during the InitialView and encourage me to catch this chance and make a hit; my foreign teachers in my school, though not available for preparation, also provide tips for me to get rid of this interview.

Still, the day will come. I got into the CBD of Shenzhen and was elevated to the fourteenth floor of the Time Finance Centre. There I saw teacher who instructed me to take a writing. “How to love a person?” Well, this topic was easy, and I harnessed what I learned from psychology course. After the writing, I was sent to have an interview.

At first, the interview asked me about my plan, and I told her the truth, that I would play violin on stage. (Actually, I just finished my performance yesterday!) However, as the interview progressed, I thought the topic about violin was talked about too much, and I took a strategic turn to swerve her attention to mangrove forest protection. Fortunately, I finished the entire interview process.

Today, I received my report, and I was quite satisfied with my results. My parents took a look at my chubby face and my seniors, as well, appreciated how great my interview was. I am confident to send my interview video to my dream school’s admission office. Now, as I send my InitialView video to the admission office of my dream school, I also send a seed of hope to it.

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Why biology?

When first encountering the discipline – biology – I felt greatly astonished by its ability to help me explore about wonderful secrets about life: I knew how people grow, live, and have their common physiological processes being fixed and integrated. But in the real world, there are much imperfection in human bodies such as illness. Nowadays, medical technologies have been developed to an advanced level, improving much better in their treatments toward serious diseases. However, this development still does not benefit congenital ones.

I have met a younger child called Rain who was the son of my mother’s good friend. The first thing I noticed was his strange appearance. He was shorter than I expected, possessing a stagnant eyesight. Having a round face, big nostrils, and thick lips which even let me thought he was an alien, he kindly smiled and said hello. Forging my fear of approaching him, I kindly introduced myself and talked about what are going around my daily life. Rain, in turn, started long speech about his experiences. Though his illogical flow of words, with murmured pronunciation, was once difficult for me to understand his sentences, I finally came to fathom what he was talking about. From that day on, we became friends and frequently trade information between each other.

Still, my mother, being aware of Rain’s abnormality, asked his parents about what’s the problems with his appearance and speaking. The response was shocking: Rain got Down’s syndrome since he was born. His parents, though could not initially accept his strange outlook, raise him with the regard that he is a normal child. But years passed by, his parents discerned that there might be some problems. After sending Rain to have a professional physical examination, his parents were stunned at the addition of a chromosome. I thought that he could be normal again, but my mother told me that this disease could not be cured since it was inborn.

I could not bear the truth even though it was strongly corroborated. Hiding this secret to Rain, I gained deeper approach to him after series of recreational activities. In definition, Down’s syndrome had its patients unable to cognize the world holistically. But I saw his painting, which once really enthralled me by the portrayal of the animals and plants. Beside this, I admired his dancing skills which had the paces being coordinated and rhythmed. Even I could not reach that high standard. In general, I could perceive many of the life’s best details being captured by his little body, sparkling great amount of his knowledge of the world to me. Nevertheless, I did know that he could get out of the sufferings of his inborn disease.

Through high school study about biology, I came to know about more things about the virtue of lifeforms. There always exist materials of inheritance – genes – that can determine people’s physical and behavioral traits since their birth. But when abnormality comes, such as the alteration in humans’ chromosomes which hold many of the genes, people’s traits will be disrupted, forming some distinct but negative characteristics for them that prevent their life from proceeding like a normal person. Though in the present, there have not been cure for such diseases, gene therapy, a branch of the bioengineering, started to apply in various treatment toward different inborn diseases that were caused by only small changes in people’s genes.

But what about those diseases resulting from the anomaly of chromosomes? Basing on this question, here I apply for the college I applied for with the aim to seek the answer. Through various fields of research opportunities offered by the university I applied for, I could gain a lot of insight into the solution of many of these human sufferings, not only for the theoretical one, but also in the realm of real-life application, which could authentically provide the innocently influenced people with hopes to live a happy life.

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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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An Unusual Practice Book

I have bought a book about concepts and practices of courses during my high school life. It seems so common that nearly everyone else could purchase it for the purposes of enhancing their knowledge. However, for me, this book is very unusual and provides me with well-rounded treatment toward other kinds of books.

With the aim to effectively improve my skill, I firstly used it for training my brain to get to understand about something inside the textbook. The structure inside the content was just well-designed that I did not want to even fold the page unintentionally. Only two colors were displayed in those pages, bringing me with refreshing air to calm me down and work hard. With blanks waiting me to be filled in, I looked around the textbook and recognized such difficult points deeper in my mind. There were always some pop-quizzes after the review lists’ blanks are completed, which made me have greater impression to such knowledge.

Accidentally, I saw neglected blocks of texts that appeared under the main content. They illustrated how the knowledge could be traced to some historical facts, or presented some ideas that are similar to what I learned. I read them loud, and felt really surprised at how those what I studied could be applied to everyday-life aspects.

I decided to keep the book without selling or abandoning it. It was a symbol of my self-accomplishment on such field of high school courses that I felt interested in. Moreover, with those expansions of such knowledge, I could also read back to access something that was unnecessary in exams, but was really useful in real life.

Actually, it is called Five Years of Gaokao and Three Years of Practices.

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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.

Experimenting with Interest

Looking back to my experiences during this winter vacation, I feel a bit frustrated because unlike other students, I didn’t accomplish any big goals. However, most of my vacation was devoted to preparation about various competitions. One of these competitions, Rising Star Chemistry Challenge (RSC), was so crucial to me that I thought I was just a dedicated scientist who could make a big change toward the world immediately. Candidly, I could say that this winter vacation was not regretting but enjoying.

Why I want to devote a lot of time into this competition? I can be traced back to sometime before winter vacation begin: On December 12, 2015, I, along with my other three partners, participated in the preliminary contest of RSC. After several days since the preliminary ended, we knew that our team was the fourth place in Southern China, and the fourteenth place in the entire country. We were going to Beijing on March 4 the next year for the final contest with other fifty-nine groups all over China.

Being well prepared for the theoretical knowledge, we were confident enough to use these theories to explain a lot of chemical phenomena. However, the final contest said it evaluates groups through experiments. This was a big challenge for us, since we haven’t face this form of science competition that examined our experimental skills.

“We have no excuse to escape it, because we have to be confident enough to achieve it.” I said to my group members that we could be well-prepared if we do experiments during winter vacation. With satisfaction, they agreed with me that with enough practices, our endeavor will be reciprocated with joy of success. I applied for a laboratory out of school, and we were rallied together three times a week to proceed different experiments.

Many people think that doing experiments is monotonic, but for me, it is very interesting though time and patience should be given. Actually, there were many kinds of equipment that I hadn’t even seen before. And I could sight the unknown world of chemistry due to the rigid procedure. During titration, I saw a liquid drop, touching the surface of the standard solution, switched the color of the indicator a little, them disappeared with the color return. During distillation, I saw the gas particles condensed to liquids, them slide down the pipe, collected in the Erlenmeyer flask them merged with the sea of pure water… These experiments became not complicated for me. On the contrary, they became very lively, allowing me to explore the entire world of nature.

This winter vacation was meaningful for me, not because it was filled with massive affairs that were entertaining, but for it enhanced my sense of curiosity, a sort of characteristic that could lead to triumph.