1 hour and 50 minutes doubled is 3 hours and 40 minutes, times by four is … er… a very big number, and that was how long it took for me to travel to Chrysalis Summer School in total. Yes, that is dedication, especially in the summer holidays.  And it was well worth it. Where do I even begin to explain my amazing experience?

I’m going to talk about Biology first. This was my subject I had chosen and I had a very memorable time. We did PCR (polymerase chain reaction, so basically, we looked at our DNA fingerprints – yep like the people from CSI) and we examined various bones – both I’d never imagine I would do in my usual Biology lessons so this was quite an exciting experience. Plus, I developed valuable skills that I could write in my Personal Statement.

The teachers were really great too, we were told we could e-mail them if we needed help even though they have been only teaching us for two days. They gave us a list of books to read and museums to visit which could help us academically for the “wider reading” we are all told to do. Both my teachers were really passionate about Biology, so passionate that it was infectious. I think after attending I do feel more inclined to take Biology at University.

Then there were the wonderful people who were also interested in Biology. It felt as if we had a common language to talk in and we could discuss Biology personal statements and other things we have done for further reading. Everyone was friendly and I have made quite a few friends, I even took some phone numbers and I’m pretty sure we’ll remain in contact and who knows, we might end up in the same uni, doing the same course. As I was told by somebody, these were the soft ties I was making and it really is important for us to start making these connections, and where better to find alike people outside of school?

Finally, the wonderful, enthusiastic, no-grey-cloud-could-ever-cover-their-smile staff and volunteers who really made our day brilliant, from being friendly and very happy to waking us up in the early mornings with the forced massaging and stretching, to encouraging us to step out of our comfort zone, they were all wonderful, wonderful people.

Speaking of comfort zones, I was pushed out of mine on Day 1. I was chosen to speak in front of everybody, (yep, the whole lot of strangers of which I had just about met 10) about why I love Biology. Daunting? Yes. Frightening? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Y-no. But was it useful? Definitely. I am so glad they dragged me from my seat to stand and speak out; I think it was a good experience and I’m sure it has boosted my confidence.

Those four days allowed me to gain a lot, a humongous amount, and I certainly won’t go away and forget about it. It was such a valuable experience and if someone asked me if I would do it again, I’d say yes and I’d tell my friends a year younger than me to say yes too. The 14.6 hours (yes I have finally worked it out) was well worth it.

By Songyan Yu, Woodford County High School