For those of you who know me, you’ll likely know that in the past year I decided to return to school to study nutrition and ultimately become a Registered Dietitian. What that means is two years of graduate school to obtain a masters degree. But, if you’re like me and you avoided the sciences in your bachelors degree education, then that means you have a lot of catching up to do. Standard prerequisites for masters programs in nutrition include microbiology, physiology, organic chemistry, and bio chemistry before you apply to a program. And, there’s prerequisites for those too. Need organic and biochem? Well, first you’ll have to do one years worth of General Chemistry. To sum it all up, there’s a lot of chemistry to studying nutrition. The good thing is I finally finished all of my General Chemistry classes in the Spring of 2015, and then hesitantly enrolled into a Summer intensive Organic Chemistry class – which is 3 quarters or basically a years worth of organic chemistry in one summer.
That class started on July 2. It’s August 6th now, and I took the final for the second quarter this morning. I was bit hesitant about this class, mainly because you always hear horror stories about organic chemistry. Plus any science class at an accelerated pace is a bit intimidating.
Fortunately though… I’ve learned
I think I Love Organic Chemistry
Yeah, that sounded cheesy. I know. And, most likely some people would call it nerdy. Whatever you want to label it, so be it. But, I’ve realized that once you finally take the time to learn about it, Organic Chemistry is kind of like a game or a puzzle. It’s just there’s lots of rules you have to first learn, and then follow in order to play the game. You learn the rules then get to solve problems based on the logical application of those rules to theoretically synthesize a product. And while you’re figuring out these puzzles you also get to draw…. but you don’t have to draw well because you’re only required to draw stick figures. Yeah, I know… pretty cool. Plus, the puzzles you’re trying to solve always involve the creation of something. You start with one chemical compound, and have to solve the puzzle of what steps to take in between to turn it into another desired product. So…. you’re always thinking about how to create something (and often times it’s a drug of some sort). It’s like learning magic.
However, if you would have told me 10 years ago that I’d feel this way about organic chemistry… well, I can’t even think of how to describe my adamant disbelief and likely discontent for such a prediction. Even if you told me this at this time last year, It would have been hard to believe. It seemed so far from who I thought I was.
How I Made the Change to Actually Enjoying Science
In college round 1, (ten years ago) I avoided all sciences. For some reason, I thought it wasn’t my thing, and possibly even more so, I thought I wasn’t smart enough. This is despite the fact that highschool’s freshman year physical science class was probably my favorite class. And, despite that I did really well in my Oceanography in my first year of college. All of these were things I ignored, largely because I was intimidate by the sciences and the socially propagated belief that “the sciences are hard”, or that you have to be really smart. In my book, smart’s a four letter word. Smarts is not a determining factor in ones ability to learn sciences. Intelligence helps for sure. But what’s more important and applicable for most people is diligence, and having a tolerance for not knowing. If you can’t stand it when you don’t know something, science is hard because you learn something everyday that you don’t know, or will likely take days, weeks, or even years to understand. There are things you learn that nobody actually completely understands or can explain. 80% of the battle is just learning how to learn (not a scientific number).
In my first General chemistry class last fall I learned that I had to let go of my need to immediately understand something. That idea was flawed. And it didn’t mean I was flawed, or incapable. It just meant I needed to be patient and have faith in the learning process. I didn’t realize this at the time, but I put things together and figured out that these concepts that seemed so difficult the first time I heard them, made perfect since in due time, after consistent, repeated exposure. And, that satisfaction of better understanding the nature of the world, and how things work is far more appealing than the satisfaction of quitting out of a contrived belief of what it means to be smart. Bahumbug.
The strangest thing is I avoided all of the science classes I now need to become a dietitian (would also need them to become a doctor, pharmacist, etc. ). And now, I’m actually doing better in these classes than I did in my original college major courses. Go figure.
It’s a fun ride.