International Chemistry Olympiad Experience – Part One

International Chemistry Olympiad Experience – Part One

The International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) is an annual international competition for high school students, held by the IChO steering committee. It is usually held in different countries, hence there is a big chance for the host country to introduce their cultures and histories to all the participants. It is participated by more than 70 countries, including my country Indonesia. It has a total quota of 4 students per country. All countries gather in the host country to compete and to show the world that they have intelligent and ingenious students. The first IChO was held in the year of 1968, in Prague, Czechoslovakia. This event was held every year since then, with the exception of the year 1971.

The 51st International Chemistry Olympiad was held on July 21st until 30th in Paris, and that was my first time going abroad outside Asia. I will share a bit about the ups and downs during the ten-day-journey.

In my country, to be able to participate in the IChO was not an easy step. Students have to undergo long and uneasy selections – starting from school level (Olimpiade Sains Sekolah), district level (Olimpiade Sains Kabupaten), province-level (Olimpiade Sains Provinsi), until national level (Olimpiade Sains Nasional). Afterwards, thirty medallists from the national level Olympiad have to undergo National Training, which consists of four steps of selection. The top four students will then be selected as Indonesia’s delegate for the International Science Olympiad. As part of my Olympiad journey, I will share my experience participating in the National Science Olympiad in another article soon 😊

At July 19th, we attended the release at the High School Coaching Directorate Office (Kantor Direktorat Pembinaan SMA) to be dispatched. There were also the International Economics Olympiad (IEO) team and the ASEAN Students Science Project Competition (ASPC) team.


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with Owen Lim, a senior of mine who is one of the Indonesian delegates for the International Economics Olympiad 2019 in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Our flight was at July 19th, and eight people were in the team: our mentors – Mr. Riwandi, Mr. Agustino, Mrs. Deana, and Mrs. Djulia; and other delegates from Indonesia – Danang, Bayu, and Winston. We rode the Emirates plane and transitted at Dubai for about three hours. The IChO originally started at July 21st, but our team went a day earlier so that we could adapt first to the new environment. FYI, we went through a lot of things before actually arriving at Soekarno Hatta. I will also share this in another article 😁

with the Indonesian team and parents at Soekarno Hatta airport before the flight

The flight took around fifteen hours in total. Good thing that it was separated by a transit, otherwise I would be very bored and would have nothing else to do in the plane.

The flight was enjoyable though, not like any domestic flights that I have experienced. I could barely feel that I was on a plane – for some reason, the sound of the plane was not that loud. I spent most of the time watching films and playing games. I was fascinated that Emirates’ TV could be used to play a multiplayer game. I played together with Winston during our flight back 😜 Also, foods came periodically! That made me enjoy the flight very much although it took that long and I almost could not feel my butt. They served a European dish which was not that familiar to my tongue. I still eat them though 😂

After sitting like forever, we finally made it through to the Charles de Gaulle airport. It was around 2 pm when we arrived there. Funny though, it felt like we spent more than fifteen hours and yet it’s still afternoon.

For the first night, we booked rooms at CIS Ravel. I was in the same room with Mrs Deana 😮

This is a very interesting lifetime experience, being in the same room with my mentor.

The room was quite small, with a balcony facing the street. The bathroom was VERY small. I had a hard time bathing there. And one more thing, there’s NO AC! Only a heater is available at the room.

room balcony view 1
room balcony view 2
room balcony view at night. this story was posted at 10:38 pm France time.

At around 7 pm, Winston and the others were hungry so they decided to find someplace to eat as well as some fresh air. When I woke up, it was already 10 pm and there were already plastics of McDonald’s in front of me – it appears that Mrs Deana and I overslept! I was shocked and I asked Mrs Deana, “Did I sleep for a long time?” she answered, “I woke up just before you did, so I guess we both overslept. Maybe because we were very tired after the long flight. It’s okay, Mr Riwandi and the others have ordered us McDonald’s to take away.” So… I spent my first day eating McDonald’s. ((Gak di Indonesia, gak di Paris, makannya tetep McDonalds :P))

FOOD REVIEW: The french fries was flavorless and a bit hard. (Maybe because I ate those three hours after they ordered them) but the taste could be saltier! (Ya maap, lidah Indonesia ya gitu) As for the fish fillet burger, the texture of the fish is different and the tartar sauce’s taste is different. (Lumayan lah, pengalaman ngerasain McD di negeri orang) The lemon tea tastes the same though.

Not long after eating the food, I bathed and then slept. And that was how my first day in Paris ended.

(to be continued in Part 2)

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