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Francesca Zhang

Francesca has been selected to attend XLAB in Germany. It will be her first time travelling overseas on her own but she cannot wait as she knows it will be an experience of a lifetime.

When you ask where I’m from, you’re in for a wild ride. Although my first name is Italian, I was born in Sweden (but have no other connection to the place). My father is Chinese, and my mother is New Zealand European.

Reading is my favourite hobby, I am never afraid to say what I mean and stand up for what I believe in, and I always have a spare ear to listen to someone who needs to talk. Most importantly, I love to learn new things – I believe that our lives are richer when we stop to discover more about the world and the people around us.

I have always been interested in why things are the way they are – this is what led me to love science. My teachers know me as “the one who asks all the tough questions”.

Science isn’t my only passion, I’m also very interested in the humanities, specifically politics and sociology. I not only want to understand the physical world, but the social one too. This has made thinking about my future very difficult, and I get funny looks from people when I talk about my intended areas of study. How can you study politics and mathematics? How can you study sociology and chemistry? My response is that I don’t know where it’s going to take me, but what I do know is that I’m going to love it.

Having the opportunity to travel to Germany in August and attend the XLAB International Science Camp is the perfect combination of my passions: I get to delve deeper into chemistry and ecology, and I also get to experience a new culture and meet other young people from all over the world. I have already travelled overseas quite a lot with my family, as my mother is a professor in political science, and we have lived for periods of time in Australia, China, the United States, and France for her sabbaticals. However, this will be my first time travelling overseas by myself to a place where I won’t know anyone else. It will be new and scary, but I’m going to grow so much as a person, and I can’t wait. I know it will be an experience of a lifetime.