Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A short introduction


My name is Rob and I have recently taken over managing this blog from Omid, whose posts I recommend reading if you haven't already :)

A little bit about myself....

I'm a second year Physics Master's student in Uppsala University with a "sort of" speciality in Nuclear & Particle Physics, though I tend to enrol in courses I find interesting for their own sake rather than any tied to a particular area of Physics. I come from Ireland, where I did a degree in Applied Maths & Physics (solve hard problems with maths) and a master's in Mathematical Modelling & Scientific Computing (solve hard problems with computers), though my mother is Swedish so I spent a lot of time here growing up and always dreamed of moving here to study.

And if Physics is your interest, then I completely recommend Uppsala. Its Physics department is fantastic and their Master's programme is unbelievably open-ended. The courses I chose for my first semester where chosen on a whim because the possibilities were so large and diverse! And you can take courses from other departments and use them as credits towards your degree if you can argue their relevancy... Amazing!

What I find really cool here is that you have a lot of free reign on what you want to study and how (i.e. you can take courses with just an exam and no coursework, only coursework, with/without seminars, labs, etc.). I personally have come to love the traditional approach of lectures and assignments, because I love spending hours trying to figure out difficult problems, which you can't really do in an exam or seminar. So I tend to avoid classes too far from this approach, unless it's worth it (though it might be the complete opposite for you!)

Oh, a quick bit about first arriving here... The Swedish administration tends not work very often (in terms of hours/day) but works well when you can catch them. Just be sure to come over early and get your personnummer (social security number) sorted immediately... And your 2 or 3 hour wait in skatteverket (tax office) to do so to look forward to :) And definitely join a nation (about 250 sek or 28 per semester)... Doesn't really matter which to begin with, but if you want substantially cheaper food and alcohol and a nice and varied settings (13 nations, with at least one pub & club per nation), it's a must have :)

Anyway, to summarise this "short" introduction: my first year was genuinely amazing. Experienced a whole different way of learning in wonderful university, had a lot of fun in the process, met an amazing girl, travelled to Tallinn, Rome and Paris (more about that later), improved my Swedish enough to feel really comfortable speaking and hearing it (and learnt not to care too much if I didn't understand everything right away), all in a new country, far from friends and family... A valuable experience everyone should go through I believe :)

Till next time :)

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