All those years at school passed by without leaving much imprint in me. It felt like a grey succession of years and teachers, and I was just passively moving along, waiting for something I didnt know anything about. Nothing really interested me – not the subjects at school, nor sports, music or politics. It all felt meaningless.
However – outside of school, at home, with 14 years – the first ray of light appeared: it was chemistry. Doing a very simple chemical experiment at home, suddenly something inside of me woke up. In chemistry, substances could release hidden ingredients by specific experiments: something that was hidden inside a substance could be made to show up! I was in awe and completely fascinated. From that moment on, all my energy, money and time went into building my own laboratory at home, transforming a room in the basement into a chemical laboratory. My parents were worried, as were many other people, but nothing could stop my enthusiasm. Every day after school I would spend hours down there, time would be forgotten and I would be completely immersed into more and more advanced experiments. It felt like for the first time I had found something about the meaning of life, that life could be deciphered, could be made to unfold its secrets.
My deep inner belief was that I needed to understand life, and chemistry felt like a perfectly valid way to do so. So when it came to choose a subject for my university education, there was no doubt inside me: Biochemistry! I was sure that the secrets of life would be open to scientific inquiry. And by being a scientist, I would discover about myself too.
Looking back now, I can see how naive that belief was. Little did I know about how science not only does not understand about life; it has its own prejudices too. But that I was to discover later.
So when I was 17, I was quite happy to leave my home and start my university career.