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Advice to the Physics Undergraduate

  1. Sep 29, 2013 #1
    Hey everyone,

    Just started my first year of study as a Physics undergraduate in the UK, and was wondering if any of you have any tips in getting the most out of my 4 years and how to get a first etc.

    Advice would be much welcomed.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2013 #2
    Speaking as a 3rd year student in the USA, the first thing you need to do is be picky about who you surround yourself with. Your social group will either help or hinder. Hang around with people who care more about science than pop culture.

    The second thing that has helped me is constructive use of free time. If you like to browse the internet, spend more time on sites like this and less time on Facebook. (I'm trying but not good at this one!) If you like to read to unwind, pick up some of the classics, Einstein, Feynman, Schrodinger, etc.

    Also, don't be afraid to read textbooks from higher level classes. Don't worry if they don't make sense yet. Enjoy watching your abilities improve each semester. You'll find that after every one, you are able to comprehend texts that seemed nonsensical a few short months before. You'll also have a head start on some of the scariest classes!

    Hope this helps!
  4. Sep 29, 2013 #3
    Thanks, that's very helpful. Are you on tract to get the top grade? and How hard did you have to work for your end of year exams, or was it more of a slow progression of revising every day?
  5. Sep 29, 2013 #4
    The USA doesn't have the same tier system, we have a gpa system. My gpa roughly places me at an upper second in your system. To answer the other part of your question, expect to become familiar with sleep deprivation. I don't want to sound discouraging, but expect to study in most of your spare time. Uni is a whole new world, and you are in a hard work/huge reward major.

    Hope to make it back over the pond soon! Grad school in the UK is my goal at the end of my sleepless nights! :)
  6. Sep 29, 2013 #5
    oh right, and I intend to hope over the pond as well in my 3rd year, where I can spend a year studying at University California Berkley :-) as part of a study abroad programme my university has.
  7. Sep 29, 2013 #6
    UCB is an excellent school, my research professor got his doctorate at UC Riverside, actually. I'm sure it would be a rewarding experience! I fell in love with Scotland when I got to visit recently, and as a general rule I enjoy the British mindset and way of life. I can blame being raised on Terry Pratchett for that.

    An ex-professor from my university now researches nanotech, optics and plasmonics at KCL, so I might try to lean on him for advice in my own endeavors, but I have friends in the Edinburgh area, and UE has an astounding history I'd love to be a part of. I also wouldn't mind meeting Peter Higgs, so there is that!
  8. Sep 29, 2013 #7


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    Also speaking as a US student, make sure you make full use of office hours (if they have such a thing over at UK schools) and don't limit yourself to problem sets assigned in class-try to work as many problems that you find challenging from the assigned/recommended textbooks. Furthermore, don't feel obliged to limit yourself to the bare minimum mathematics for a given physics subject. Finally, self-studying can help a lot, if done right, for future classes so don't forgo that avenue. Good luck!
  9. Sep 29, 2013 #8
    @WannabeNewton, thanks and we have open office hours as well in the UK, therefore I will use them fully.
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