I’ve never really liked science (mostly biological sciences) or mathematics when I was young. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’ve been more into reading fiction than anything else. I disliked reading school-related textbooks, probably just like every other “average” kid in the world. It was also the time that I wanted to learn more about different languages like Spanish and Japanese (which I still haven’t done). Having read fiction books for years, I knew I was much better in English grammar, spelling, and vocabulary than my other classmates. But for science and math, I did not really mind if I didn’t excel in them.
When I stepped into my third year in high school, we had a really funny and kindhearted Geometry teacher. His way of teaching was very different from others–he taught in a lively manner, and he was always smiling despite the students providing the wrong answer. Instead of frowning, he would say some witty comment and encourage another student to try figuring out the problem. I believe many of the students liked him, even if they did not completely understand the lessons.
Geometry was the subject in which I did not have to worry about solving problems numerically. Instead, we were taught about proofing–we had to prove that one triangle was equal to another based on theorems and corollaries. I had no idea why or how, just that I began to like (and appreciate) math just because I suddenly “understood” the logic of proofing. I was actually excited to learn more about math; and when a classmate would ask how I got the answer, I was happy to explain the process to them. And sure enough, my efforts paid off and began to excel in that class.
Fourth-year Physics and Trigonometry ended being not so bad, either. The teachers were less dynamic than the Geometry teacher, but they were nice. Yes, we were back to numerical calculations, but the science and math subjects were not as intimidating as before. Our Geometry teacher showed us that math can be interesting–that we could learn how to like math despite its complexity. He also displayed a very inspiring love for teaching and for God. Having studied in a Christian school, he was probably the first non-Bible teacher who would encourage us to have faith in God. And, the last I heard of him, he had attended a Biblical seminary in order to serve in the ministry.
When I attended university for my undergraduate, despite my initial fears of failing in my math classes (mainly because I did not do well during my primary and the first two years of secondary education), I actually didn’t have much difficulty. Yes, the Plane Geometry was confusing at first, but the other math-related subjects I took for the next four years were not as bad as I thought. Some of them (like Engineering Statics) were pretty easy because I’ve learnt them during my high school Physics class.
Embracing the Sciences
When asked why I chose to study Architecture for my undergraduate, my immediate response would be “Because I want to be an architect.” And the second reason was (which I thought made good sense to me at that time) “I can’t imagine myself studying any Pre-Medicine course. I prefer math than science.” And this was true for many years. Or at least until I was in fourth year of my undergraduate studies.
During that four year, we were required to enroll for a General Psychology class, which I expected not to like. My older sister had studied Psychology for her undergraduate, and I knew she had taken many biological science subjects. I remember her reading many textbooks and class notes, studying for exams, and even taking the cadaver of a cat home to dissect it late at night (I accompanied her in the garage while she dissected the cat). And I didn’t understand why she had to study all those Anatomy, Zoology, Biology classes. Psychology was a mystery to me—I didn’t know what its purpose was until I had to take that Psych class in college.
What I didn’t expect was that my complete aversion (and avoidance) of sciences lessened as I learned more about the history and branches of Psychology. I read our considerably-thin Psych textbook, and ended up doing additional independent research (a.k.a. surfing the Net/Google) about how Psychology could be related to Architecture. Sure enough, there was a branch of Psychology that did apply Psychology concepts to Architecture—Environmental Psychology. Since then, I have occasionally watched TV documentaries (mostly BBC) and audio lectures (from Yale’s OpenCourseWare) to learn more about the field. I grew more and more fascinated about Psych, and a little bit of Neuroscience. It is actually interesting how they are all interrelated—I hope to someday learn more about how people’s behavior can affect architectural design and vice-versa.
Putting Them All Together
Truly, I am grateful for that Geometry teacher and Psych instructor for inspiring me to do better; to not fear failure just because I had one or two mistakes on my exam; to believe in my own skills and abilities; and, most of all, to not fear change. The change I refer to is the change in my interests, preferences, and dreams
One would think that it’s important to stay dedicated or committed to a decision, but I think at this point in my life, I think change is good. I’ve been too used to staying in one place and doing the same things like other people. But taking risks (like my decision to apply for graduate studies in Taiwan) is an adventure by itself—I wouldn’t be able to know my limits if I didn’t attempt to push myself towards anything. Experiencing more things provided me with new ideas (whether school-related or just random stuff), and those experiences definitely enhanced my perception of the world around me.