9th of April
For preparation, I did exactly the same thing as yesterday, because that seemed to help me tremendously. We did nothing for 45 minutes, and then stretched for the last 15 minutes.
The test opened with a geometry — great! However a slight scan at the other two gave me the impression that they are elaborate, complicated Number Theory + Combinatorics questions. That scared me a little bit, but anyways I have to focus on geometry first.
Somewhere along the line my eyes are drawn to a particularly weird part of the picture. My alarm bells should be ringing, namely, Why are you using this hopeless method to your life more surreal, but somehow it worked and I finished the first question in an hour.
Now turning to Number Theory two… it is weird to say the least, the conditions you have to meet seems completely out of the blue.
After looking at it a bit it’s beginning to look a bit clearer. One particularly important condition turned out to be the formula “n(n+1)/2”. And here I had two ways of interpreting it, either it is “n choose 2”, in which case I relate this to combinatorics, or it is “the sum of integers 1, 2, …n”, in which case I relate it to algebra. I chose to consider it algebraically first. For the first hour it seemed like I’m making progress, but as time drags on I began to lose track of my progress and the general picture. I soon noticed that I am also losing my attention. I struggled a bit more and then got up and went to the bathroom. Came back—still nothing. Chocolate break. By this time I finally realised I am not on the right track. I proved some bonds, some lemmas, related but not crucial…
Looking back, I started off thinking “I’ll try the algebra method first and then the combinatorics road.” But then I seemed to have gotten stuck in the road that essentially led nowhere and completely forgot to try the combinatorics road. I might have gotten further with my problem should I have tried the other approach.
10th of April
I am deeply grateful for the excursions today. My previous experience with excursions were all good, because we get to explore the city and learn new things, but frankly, they were never close to being relaxing. Getting up early, spending hours on the bus; And if we nod off in a half-conscious state, we would wake up even more exhausted with the worst taste in our mouths. Not to mention the anxiety over the exam results.
This year was different. We didn’t have to leave until 10, so plenty of time to sleep in; The place was less than half an hour bus ride away (or so I felt), and the place we visited was an outdoor museum. The original plan was to go on a bicycle tour together (how cool is that!) But because of the untimely rain it we toured on foot instead. We explored the traditional houses, and in the afternoon we tried Ukrainian dancing. It was amazing! The musicians accompanied us with Ukrainian instruments and singing, and we experienced life of the Ukrainian youths at the parties. The moves were not hard, and people moved around in a circle changing partners. While we were dancing, all the anxieties of finding out the test results were cast aside.
In normal circumstances, the live scoreboard on the website would enable us to check our marks real-time. This time– for better or for worse– there’s no wifi outdoors and the 3G is simply too expensive. We would not be able to know until we get back.
However ultimately we’ll have to return and face the truth. I can feel my heart rate fluctuating as I calculated the predicted result in my head, pictured worse case scenario again and again and tried to get a hold of myself. I chanted as if this was a magic spell can make everything disappear: “I don’t care. Whatever, I don’t care.” My friend gave me a pointed look, and said: ”You DO care.”
Bus — breathe — hotel revolving doors — breathe — stairs. Once inside, we have the wifi to check the scoreboard, and one of my teammates took out her phone and started checking the results WHILE climbing the stairs, and I freaked out. We rushed to our room and started opened EGMO 2019 official website, where the live scoreboard was. Heart hammering, I was controlling my breathing and just at this critical nerve-wracking moment my phone decided to break down. I was burning a hole on my phone with my eye, shooting fire at the words “loading” and I felt like scratching something—anything.
Laura, my roommate, sitting on the bed next to mine, asked: “Have you seen it?”
I looked up. She was grinning, but trying her hardest not to show it. Her phone lay in her hand.
“No, and DON”T TELL ME.” I said, “My phone is not working. Have you seen yours? You look happy.”
She kept on grinning, and offered me her phone.
I scrolled down the tiny roll of names, found ours, and there it was.
11th of April
What can I say about the last day? It was a lot of things, but for some reason feels incredibly leisurely compared to the others. We went on a boat trip, talked to friends (The most important, of course), went to the award ceremony and later, danced in the farewell disco. Yet after the exams, the weight finally lifted off the shoulders, it was my feeling that everything was like in slow motion, we moved so slow, so relaxed, I felt like breathing anew. On the boat trip, I stared out of the misty window at the beautiful Dnieper river forever with book in my bag, but I just decided not to read it. Indulge myself a little, just this once, now that I can.
The award ceremony — we made fun of each other in front of the camera, chatted to friends, fooled around with confetti, took loads of pictures. There was a lot of laughs, a lot of hugs, a lot of number exchanges. It would be too sad to simply lose connection with these amazing people, because after all, friendship is at the core of these events and friendship can motivate people to work harder. We asked the Ukrainian gold-medalists team later, what was their secret to success, and we all agree that their answer is the golden truth of all ages, mathematician’s etho, the key to unlock a spring of creativity and motivation.
They said: ”Get the same brand of nail polish among your team members.”