“Where is my timetable?” I’m sure I printed it and put it in my bag last night. “Where is it now? Oh, please be here!” I mumbled to myself as I fumbled through my backpack a second time. I was starting to get anxious as I was the only one left in the auditorium now. Everyone had left minutes ago and gone to class already.
The scene of the first day of my junior high school flashed in my mind. The principle had just given a speech on the morning of the first day, and after the speech, everyone just left to go to class. But for some reason I didn’t know where I was supposed to go, so I just sat there in my seat starting at the floor, thinking about how the events of the rest of the day.
‘Why are you sitting here all alone?’ The most gentle voice sounded in my ears. When I turned around, I saw the most gentle eyes looking into mine. ‘Come on, don’t you know that class has already started?’
‘Huh? I…I wasn’t sure where to go.’ I was at a loss for words because it was the face I had just seen in my mind. And she said exactly what I heard her say in my mind.
‘Come on, don’t be shy. We’re all new to this school.’ She took me by the hand like a big sister. ‘But I’m sure you’ll make some great friends.’
‘I’m not shy. I just wasn’t sure where to go.’ I must’ve blushed to give her the impression that I’m shy. My heart fluttered as I followed her.
‘Hmm? Your classroom was announced with your class number. Didn’t you hear?’ She walked swiftly. Her long pink hair trailed behind her like a fairy princess.
‘Ummm…’ My mind must’ve drifted off somewhere, but I was too embarrassed to mention it.
‘It doesn’t matter. Let’s hurry so our teacher doesn’t get upset.’
‘I’m Linda, by the way. It’s nice meeting you.’ She smiled with her gentle green eyes.
‘I’m Lori. It’s nice meeting you too.’ Even though this was my first time meeting her, but it felt like I had known her for a long time.
Thanks to Linda, the first day of my junior high didn’t turn into a disaster.
“Hey.” There was a light tap on my shoulder.
“Ahh!” The folder I was holding slipped out of my hands and all the paper inside spilled on the floor.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.” A girl with thick-rimmed glasses started gathering the papers scattered on the floor.
“It’s alright.” I kept my face down. She was the face I had seen in my mind earlier, during the principle’s speech.
“I saw you sitting here all by yourself, so I thought I’d check on you. Are you alright?” She handed me the stack of paper I had dropped. “Here.”
“Thanks. And thank you for checking on me.” I stuck the stack of paper inside my backpack.
“Which program are you in?” She asked.
“Hey, me too!” She sounded excited. “We’re probably in the same class. Actually, there’s only one class for bioengineering, so we’re definitely in the same class.”
“Really?” I was relieved to hear that she’s in the same program.
“Hey, Jody!” A girl with short orange hair ran towards her. “I thought you were with me, but when I turned around, you were gone!”
“Sorry Susan, I saw her sitting here all by herself, so I wanted to make sure she was alright.” Jody answered.
“Oh, hi…” Susan smiled at me.
“I forgot to introduce myself.” Jody bowed. “I’m Jody Ransom. And this is Susan Chung. She’s also in the same program as us.”
“I’m Lori Shin. It’s nice to meet you both.” I bowed in return.
“Lori, it’s nice meeting you too. But we need to go, unless we want to be late for our first class.” Susan pulled Jody by the arm.
“Come, Lori. We’ll talk after class.” Jody pulled me along.
“Sure.” I went along with them. I wondered what kind of people they were. Jody saved my day just as Linda did in junior high. But somehow, I sense that a very different kind of energy from them.
When we arrived in class, the room was already filled with students. The only empty seats that had three seats together were in the first row. We sat in them without much thought. Jody and Susan both seemed comfortable sitting so close to the blackboard and the teacher. I felt quite nervous being near the front of the room in a brand-new school.
“Settle down, everyone. Settle down, please.” A young man stood at the front of the room. His face looked so youthful that I didn’t even notice him until he introduced himself. “My name is Alfred Kwan. You can call me Prof. Kwan.” He said with a big sunny smile. “I’ll be your calculus professor this year.”
Professor? Can he really be a professor? I heard that all professors are PhDs and they are quite old. But he looks like he’s only in his late twenties. I saw the same surprised look on Jody and Susan’s faces.
“You’re probably wondering how old I am and if I’m qualified to teach at a University, especially at a reputable University like Felix Martin.” Prof. Kwan seemed to have read our minds. He’s not only young, but extremely smart. I wonder if all the professors here are this smart.
“Unfortunately, I cannot reveal my age. What I can and will tell you is my qualifications.” He straightened his tie, and paced in front of the room as he spoke. “I obtained my undergraduate degree here at Felix Martin, majoring in computational biology. Afterwards, I continued my studies here and obtained a Masters and PhD degree, under the supervision of Prof. Elderman.
“By the way, you might take courses with him in third and fourth year if you choose to specialize in computational biology or bioinformatics. He’s one of the best researchers in the field. Anyway, after completing my graduate studies, I went on to conduct postdoctoral research at Lindons College for 3 years. And after that, I returned to teach here. This is now my third-year teaching this calculus course.”
I did a basic calculation in my head. 4 years of undergraduate studies plus 6 years of graduate studies, plus 3 years of research and 3 years of teaching. He should be at least 34 if he started his undergraduate studies at 18. I still had a hard time believing that he was over 30 though. And what exactly is computational biology?