Basically, I did not feel like participating in a competition at all. I mean, yes, the name is International Chemistry Olympiad, but the vibe was not competitive at all. It was ten days full of new journeys, new people, and unforgettable memories.
Here is the simplified schedule of the IChO:
|July 21st||Arrival||CISP Kellermann Paris|
|July 24th||Practical Exam||Pierre Gilles de Gennes High School|
|July 28th||Tour||Palais de la Decouverte|
|July 30th||Go Home!||–|
We went to Maison de la Chimie by bus. Every country, along with the guide, is admitted to the bus based on the attendance list. This place is where we will also have the closing ceremony.
We also took a picture with Jean-Pierre Sauvage, the winner for 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on molecular machines. He shared the prize with Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa.
After the opening ceremony, we had a welcome lunch at a restaurant in Maison de la Chimie.
After lunch, we had quite a long walk to the Louvre Museum. We enjoyed some nice sceneries during the walk.
And at last, we arrived at the Louvre Museum! Yes, you’re right, the legendary prism-shaped building. We had a guided tour inside, wearing earphones and guided by a tour guide explaining some historical facts behind the paintings in the museum.
The next day, we toured Versailles Palace. I enjoyed the old-fashioned furniture that is still cherished until today. Fun fact, the beds inside are very tall. I wonder how the king or queen went to bed.
Another fun fact, the garden was really big and wide. We took a very long way to reach the place designated for a picnic.
We had to went that far to reach the picnic site. And, after we reached that long rectangle made of grass, we took a picture again (Think of this as a checkpoint HAHAH). Another fact, Paris was in a heatwave during the IChO so it was very burning at the time we toured Versailles.
Finally, we reached the picnic place. We were given picnic bags containing chips, bread, and some snacks.
On the way back, the wind was so strong that our umbrellas flipped. We called this Walden Inversion 😂
Oh, and something happened when we were outside waiting for other participants. I saw a pickpocket stealing someone’s purse. Winston shouted, “Copet, Copet!” (Indonesian term for pickpocket) We all laughed when our guide said that people here could not understand his language so it was not worth the shout.
The thrilling day finally came. We were brought to Pierre Gilles de Gennes High School for our exam. That day was the peak of the heatwave and the temperature reached 45°C. I did the exam while wearing a long-sleeved lab coat. Imagine how hot that was.
City Tour and Cruising Seine River
We toured the city by bus. I did not go to the Arch de Triumphe though, I only watched it and other tall buildings while doing this tour.
After touring the land of Paris, we continued to the cruise touring Seine River. We sailed along the river and enjoyed the sceneries.
After finishing the Theoretical Exam, we were brought to Polytechnic Highschool to reunite with our mentors. And most importantly, we got our gadgets back (yay)!
As we had reunited with our mentors, we did the touring together from this day. We rode an MRT from our hotel to Tour Eiffel. This legendary tower could be seen from far away, but we would not have been to Paris if we did not reach the peak of the tower, right? We decided to queue to climb the tower.
Museum of Discovery (Palais de la Decouverte)
Together with our mentors, we went to the Museum of Discovery. There are so many interactable things related to science discoveries throughout the museum.
At the chemistry section, there was a little speech explaining liquid air. She explained that touching liquid air is actually not hazardous as long as the period of the contact is very short. The explanation for that is because our hand temperature is when water is liquid (room temperature), hence when in contact with the liquid air our hand does not instantly freeze. The slight warm in our hand protected it from the freezing liquid temperature although not for a long time. She encouraged us to try touching the liquid air. I did touch it, and it felt awesome!
Catalyzer is kind of like a magazine published daily to all participants and mentors. It contains news of the previous day and some fun facts. I appeared once in the Catalyzer!
Indonesian Embassy in Paris
During our visit to Paris, we also took a moment to visit the Indonesian Embassy (Kedutaan Besar Repulik Indonesia). People there were very welcoming and I enjoyed my time there.
Oh yeah, we were invited to enjoy Chinese cuisines after the meeting. That was literally the first time I ate rice since I arrived in Paris. It feels like heaven.
This ten-day-competition has finally come to an end. Another thrilling day has arrived. My heart was thumping from when I entered Maison de la Chimie. They announced the medallists with the following sequence: honourable mention, bronze, silver, and gold.
There were 37 gold medallists, 64 silver medallists, 95 bronze medallists, and 23 honourable mentions. I was very honoured to get a bronze medal. I felt like I did not do well on my theoretical exam, I somehow did not answer the first problem. That’s why I was lacking confidence. It was only by His Grace that I could win this medal. Winston and Danang got silver medals, while Bayu got a bronze medal.
There was a moment I won’t forget after the closing ceremony. We took a picture downstairs next to the exit so I had to put my bag down. It was the tote bag that was given on the first day (I got the picture in the first part of the blog). That means SOOO many of the participants wearing the same bag on the same day. The difference was only what was inside and the code glued on the bag (for me it’s IDN-4).
After the photo-taking, I went everywhere to look for my bag. However, there were NO signs of my bag – it went missing! I got panicked and contacted the committee. There were my essentials there – wallet, passport, camera, phone, almost everything! I might have not returned to Indonesia if I lost my passport. Oh, what should I do, I was very desperate.
Turns out the bag was carried by my guide! The Malaysian guide handed the bag to my guide since there was the code IDN-4 glued on it. There were some miscommunications. Well, good thing it’s back and we’re all good. I got a heart attack, oh my God.
Arriving in Soekarno Hatta Indonesian Airport
The flight back took around 15 to 16 hours. That did not feel long at all, maybe because I was happy. After arriving, there were Bu Budiasih (my principal), Bu Dewi (coordinator for BC programme), my family, and my friends too! I was very happy that they all could come and fetch me.
Overall, IChO 2019 was a blast. Going to the International Olympiad was my dream since junior high. And God made my wish came true. I never expected myself to pass the national training selection. Everyone was really skilled, I am nothing compared to them.
I would like to thank all my teachers especially Kak Emil (analytical chem teacher) and Kak Wira (organic chem teacher) for teaching and supporting me so that I am here today. I also want to express my gratitude to all mentors and professors from ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung) and UI (Universitas Indonesia) who took part in teaching me during the national training. Also, special thanks to my family who is always there for me at all times. I could not have endured this without all of you. Lastly, thank you to my readers who are still faithfully reading this article until this final part. May God bless us all!