The Language of Mathematics

When I arrived in Amsterdam everything was so different. It was the first time in my life that I experienced rain that was really cold. We had rain in Brazil but it was always tropical rain that was warm. In Amsterdam, I had to wear a thick winter coat that made me feel like a pimento stuffed inside an olive.

When I went to school, the first thing I had to do was learn the language. Nobody I met could speak a word of Portuguese. In Holland, they speak Dutch and English; however, At first, I was limited to pointing at things and making hand gestures to try to be understood. When the teachers spoke in class, it sounded like they were simply making the noises of “blah, blah, blah,” which were incomprehensible to me.

When it was time for math studies, the teacher would put a problem on the board. I saw the other students raise their hands to get a chance to walk to the board to solve the problem. This was easy for me to do. My teacher was amazed that I could solve all the math problems so quickly without any instruction. Mathematics was a language that I understood.

Even though I could not read any of the words in the math book that explained how to find a solution, I knew how to solve the math problems by simply looking at the numbers and formulas. I started going through my math book. I discovered questions at the end of each chapter.

I began filling out pages and pages in my notebook with the answers. I finished the entire book within my first week. I took my notebook with the answers and showed them to the teacher. She checked them and discovered I was 100% correct in all my answers. She gave me a copy of the next year’s mathematics book, which I also finished very quickly.

By the age of 11, I could speak and read both Dutch and English. I excelled in mathematics and was working on problems and equations that were years ahead of my level in school. We had a computer lab at school. That was where I discovered computer programming, which later led me to fall in love with web development.

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