From biologist to programmer – my story [part 1]

Image credit: Maciek Korsan

From biologist to programmer – my story [part 1]

Emilia Szymańska bio photo By Emilia Szymańska Comment

Hi guys! It’s the time of year, when polish boys and girls have to finally decide what to do in life and which studies to take on. That’s why I wanted to tell you a little about all of my decisions which led to me to the point in which I’m now. Because I am not one of these people that started writing code in kindergarten, no… I wrote my first line during IT studies, at the first lab class.

It all started…

In primary school I was a humanist. I would write silly poems about anything and take part in writing contests, often taking some high places. When my best friend and me had to write a story for a polish class, we would compete with each other who writes more pages. Our essays would be like 10 pages long. At the end of primary school we even wrote a book. :) At that time I would think about all sort of crazy professions, for example a dog behaviorist. I was also fascinated by computers, but I would only play with some html, flash and simple forums. I liked games, but I mostly played The Sims with my best friend. We really were masters of the Sims. Really. ;)

In secondary school I had a really nasty polish teacher, so I kinda lost my heart for it. On the other hand, I had a really great biology teacher, so I quickly started to learn more and prepare for some contests. At the same time I would go on extra IT classes, when I was making a website about Lord of the Rings. It was an awful website, really and I would only use some CMS to add articles. Out of the corner of my eye I was seeing some boys being taught programming, I now think it was C language. It looked terribly complicated for me and I thought I’m too stupid to learn about it, so I never asked my teacher to join these boys. And he never proposed it. So I mostly focused on studying biology and became really good at it. I won a contests which opened all high schools for me.

Also at that time I was reaaally into anime and wanted to go on Japanese studies.

In Poland when going to high school it’s important to choose a right specialization. I knew I would be accepted in any class, so at the first place in the formula I wrote down a humanist class. I now shudder with disgust when I think about it. Luckily at the last moment I changed my choice to chemistry – biology - physics specialization, kind of a medical class as all of the people choosing it would dream about becoming a doctor.

As my second choice, which wouldn’t really matter, I chose an IT class. I think I secretly really wanted to do this, but still thought I’m not smart enough. My IT teacher laughed at me when I told him about that choice and I didn’t even feel offended.

The wakeup call

During the first year at high school I was really into that medicine stuff. I even conducted my own research on plants seeds. The only problem was that I didn’t actually see myself as a doctor. Nor a biology teacher. One day I was watching a film trailer and a thought stoke me – I want to do this as my job! I started searching for studies and I decided to go the film making school. My mum said that’s totally stupid. :) But I already felt that inner excitement which I was lacking when thinking about medicine. I started thinking about IT studies and felt that excitement again. I looked at the schedule – I felt that I really want to study all this computer science topics! The amount of math was kind of scary, but it didn’t matter – I liked math.

And that’s when the hard work started. I only had elementary math at my medicine class, so I had to take extra classes. I also to take extra physics classes. And I still had to learn extended biology and chemistry to pass the year – getting lower grades was not the option (thanks mum…). It was hard, but I enjoyed it – I really wanted to go for that computer science studies.

When final exams came it turned out that my hard work made sense – I got 100% points from the extended math test. :) Thanks to that I was accepted to my dream school – Warsaw University of Technology.

And that’s when the fun started. ;)

to be continued.

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