Math Olympiad: A Challenge to Self-Improve

“Excitement, fascination, and anxiety took over me when I became one of the participants. I thought to myself “Pack your bags girl, you’re going to Bulgaria”.” It was Naira Matosyan’s first experience in an international Olympiad, her first experience outside of the country. Do you think it’s impossible not to talk, introduce yourself to a roommate for three days? Yes, it is. Naira and her German roommate talked only after three days. As Naira explained because of their busy schedules and nervousness the introduction was delayed. Yet, they really connected afterward. “Although I was nervous during the competition I made the best out of the time spent there. It was so much fun due to all participants being very friendly. It was a very positive experience for me,” says Naira.

Erik Arakelyan, Artyom Kosyan, and Naira Matosyan (from right to left)

AUA students Artyom Kosyan, Naira Matosyan and Erik Arakelyan who were among the Armenian participants of the annual International Math Competition (IMC) held in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria from the 31st of July to the 6th of August shared about their experience.

Artyom Kosyan, a graduate of Computational Sciences department at the American University of Armenia, won a bronze medal. Artyom solved enough problems to have received a bronze medal. One might assume that Artyom was determined to win a medal. Yet, as he mentioned, participation in competitions has become a hobby for him. “I don’t want to build a career as a mere mathematician. I want to go deep in finance, mathematical modeling of financial instruments,” says Artyom. In fact, Artyom was admitted to the University of Chicago, MS in Financial Mathematics and will continue his education there.

As of his impression about the competition, Artyom shared that he was more nervous when he participated in the competition for the first time. The last competition went more smoothly for him since he was relaxed and did not focus on winning and just went with the flow. “I felt less pressured and just enjoyed solving the problems.” Artyom is not only interested in mathematics. He broke the stereotype that people divide into humanitarian thinkers and science lovers. “I’m interested in psychological books and enjoy spending time reading literature as well,” says Artyom.

Unlike Artyom, Naira is not a fan of literature and prefers math problems. “I want to continue my Master’s degree in math. If I succeed in that competition next year, it will be beneficial for my future plans,” says Naira.

As for Erik, the experience helped him advance his mathematical skills. Erik says, “The questions were nothing like what the academic curriculum usually provides.”Erik shared his approach to the situation that he was in during the competition. “For instance, you run and jog every day but you won’t run a marathon with those skills. Or if you’re a professional trainer, you won’t run a marathon because you are training the participants. The competition’s interesting problems surely challenged me to gain a better and deeper knowledge.” Even though Erik is interested in mathematics he doesn’t plan to continue that path. As surprising and funny it may sound, Erik doesn’t consider himself a math person. “I read literature fairly enough,” Erik says laughingly.

All three participants had their unique perceptions about the competition. Although the experiences were different, they were on the same journey of accepting challenges, overcoming them, and doing their best to improve themselves.

Marie Sevoyan

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