Anastazija is an 18-year-old science enthusiast from Slovenia. She is also passionate about the environment and a devoted Greenpeace volunteer. She's currently a student of the IB Diplomma Programme and doing research in the field of chemistry in collaboration with the National Institute of Chemistry.
SCIENCE AND ME
In all honesty, I never thought I’d end up wanting to study science.
Ever since I was little I’ve dreamt about learning languages and reading books and probably studying literature because all I’ve ever wanted was to understand more and to be surrounded by stories. In school I excelled in languages, writing and chemistry, but I never paid chemistry any mind until a little over a year ago.
Chemistry class was suddenly the most fun, and learning about the human body in biology was the most interesting thing I’d ever learnt. I remember actually looking forward to exams because it meant I’d have to make notes and study the topics in more depth. I remember looking forward to lab practicals to see colours changing when I added two substances together or to see actual cells under a microscope, and I remember thinking that this is what I want to do with my life. Science is something I will never get tired of and I think that was the time when I fell in love with it. I admit it sounds overly cheesy and like I’m making it all up but that's actually how it happened. One day I just came home and said that this is it, that science, specifically chemistry and biology, is what I want to study, what I want to do with my life. I remember my mom being so surprised because this was a completely new thing for her.
Anyway, after I decided to study science I also decided to change schools. I'm now doing the IB Diploma Programme which allows me to study fewer subjects but in greater depth. Two of these subjects are chemistry and biology, both at a higher level. Additionally, I was offered the opportunity to do research in chemistry as a side project. My friend and I volunteered and the experience is everything I’ve hoped for and more. We got an outside mentor, a doctor from our national institute of chemistry, who had an idea for a project and we were invited to join. I won’t go into detail about the nature of the project itself but what I do want to point out is that it has been an incredible experience. I got the opportunity to work in the lab of our national institute with chemicals and processes I didn’t have access to in our school lab, I'm working under a doctor and got to meet a whole bunch of amazing people who were as enthusiastic about science as I was and I’ve gained knowledge I never knew I would, at least not in high school.
I don’t think my interest in science would be this big if it weren’t for supportive teachers and experiments. It was through practical experiments that I found that science isn’t just memorising facts by heart but is so much more. It’s constant wondering and experimenting. This is also one of the reasons I’ve changed schools; in the Diploma Programme, I have lab practicals almost every other week and 20% of my final grade is a research project I have to come up with and conduct on my own. It's very important to understand that research projects can be done by complete beginners and will surely spark more interest for science then just memorizing textbooks.
“Research projects can be done by complete beginners and will surely spark more interest in science than just memorizing textbooks.”
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how it's possible that my interests changed so drastically, from languages and stories to molecules and reactions and I’ve come to a realisation: all I want to do is to understand as much of this world as possible. Science offers a peek through the looking glass into the inner workings of life on earth. It offers an opportunity to understand all the whys and the hows. But most importantly for me, science unravels the secret stories hidden in us and around us: the story about how we breathe or about why some plants can survive in a certain environment and others can’t.
Science is something I want to keep learning about for as long as I possibly can.