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Friday, July 3, 2020

Get to know Western: Nikolai

The Western Front interviewed Nikolai Cemenenkoff, a sophomore from Spokane, studying math and physics. 

Nikolai Cemenenkoff, sophomore. // Photo by Kara Spencer
Nikolai Cemenenkoff, sophomore. // Photo by Kara Spencer

Q: Why did you pick Western? 

A: People are very accepting of different cultures. It doesn’t seem like there is some large, oppressive vibe that everyone seems to conform to. Rather, they all express some of their own individuality, and do so freely. I thought that was definitely an attractive quality juxtaposed to more traditional schools where it is more competitive and you can just feel the external judgement as you walk through the campus. I feel like there is less of that here.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Western?

A: The opportunity to learn math and physics, truly.

Q: What would you like to do after college?

A: I want to become a professor or theoretical physicist. I want to understand the equations behind the dark matter.

Q: What has been your favorite class so far?

A: Complex analysis, it goes through calculus all over again accounting for the square roots of negative numbers.

Q:What do you like to do in Bellingham?

A: I like to go play guitar at cafes for tips and study math.

Q:Where have you gotten the most tips?

A: The Old Town Cafe. It‘s pretty chill. I show up— there are a lot of old people. They all smile at me and it makes me feel good about myself. Then I play some James Taylor and other 70s or 80s music and they recognize it and get happy too. Then there is just mutual happiness going on and they give me money. It feels good. The people at the café will usually feed me for free so that is pretty nice, too. Then I will stay and drink coffee for a while and read my math book.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for students?

A: Understand your true motivation and establish your true motive to live through tenants that come from within you. Don’t rely on some external input in order to lead you to the answer. Be patient enough, meditate on it and trust that it will come in time.

Q: What have you been playing on your guitar today? 

A: I was playing ‘You’ve got a Friend.’

Q: When did you start playing the guitar and what made you want to start?

A: Two years ago. I get really worked up sometimes and whenever I would hear classical guitar music it would calm me down, and it got to a point in my life where I needed to truly control myself and be able to calm down. So I said ‘I need to learn that’ and so I did.

Q: What is special about music to you?

A: I see it and feel it everywhere. The different vibrational harmonics actually affect you and change the makeup of your body. It is from those mathematical relationships that your mood improves. So, not only does my mood improve from studying math rigorously, but arduously through the algebraic side of it–I feel like intuitively–I’m drawn to it from music. Vibration is math.

Q: What would you say is the most unique thing about you?

I can stand on one hand.

Nikolai Cemenenkoff demonstrates a handstand in Red Square. // Photo by Kara Spencer
Nikolai Cemenenkoff demonstrates a handstand in Red Square. // Photo by Kara Spencer

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