Indeed, an experience of a lifetime

“The educational experience of a lifetime,” I read. I was curious about what experiences the alumni had that led them to this conclusion. March 22, 2021, I learned that I was going to have a say in this.

June 20, 2021,  SSP began by the participants introducing ourselves. I wondered what I was about to experience and who I was about to meet.

The first week was a tough one. It was a new language and I knew nothing more than names. In addition to the novelty of the topics, the pace we learned them made them more difficult: derivatives, integration, multi-variable calc all one after the other. I tried all my best to keep up with a pace of learning I believed was not possible. Honestly, I felt like I would not make it until now.  But, guess what, like many SSPeers, I made it. 

I would attribute this (me passing the hard days) to my fellow participants and their eagerness to help.  Frankly, I was impressed by the non-competitiveness among participants. I spent probably my entire learning years in a competition-dominated environment. However, at SSP, I saw (and I am seeing) what it looks like to strive for the sake of curiosity, not grades.  And, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

It still confuses me how we are only four days away from the end of SSP. I feel like the first day was only a few days ago. The one takeaway (at least for me)  is that: when we are doing what we love and are in the right environment, we tend to become unaware of time since we can’t stop thinking about the things we are doing. 

Image of rowers.

These led me to frame SSP as a rowing sport but only with a single boat.  I consider this boat to be SSP, and we(the researchers: uhh it feels great)  as the ones on it, and the oars as our collaboration and curiosity that pushes us forward.

Now that I am almost an SSP alumnus, I can see why SSP is given that quote.  I can now confidently say that SSP is INDEED an experience of a lifetime. And, I am lucky to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. At SSP, I was able to meet driven people that I have learned from a lot. SSP allowed me to experience perseverance, collaboration, fun, and many other things at the highest level. 



Hi! I’m Firaol, a rising senior from Ethiopia. In the future, I aspire to be an aerospace engineer. Apart from science, I enjoy calisthenics (body weight training), listening to music, watching movies, and observing the cosmos(just by my eyes for now).