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Courses Don't enjoy studying theoretical physics

I'd like to start by saying I don't know if this is the right place to post this, but I feel this community will be able to help me more than any other regarding my issue.

I'm an Irish student currently studying undergrad theoretical physics in Trinity College Dublin. Growing up, I was somewhat interested in physics so I decided to take this path, but it turned out to be nothing like what I expected. Most of my modules are more in line with pure maths than physics. Not only do I find these topics hard to grasp, but I have almost no interest in them. I feel anxious everyday at some point thinking I chose the wrong course and feel trapped in this. I don't feel passionate at all about theoretical physics and looking back I feel like I wasn't even that passionate about it in secondary school. I had a deep interest in astrophysics in first year (equivalent of 7th grade) but it had waned by the time I reached the end of secondary school and only chose physics based on the fact that I used to be really into it.

Anyways, right now I'm in second year and the idea of doing essentially pure maths terrifies me as I feel I'll be pigeonholed into a path I do not want to take. Keep in mind, I don't mean to bash the field at all and know plenty of great people who love it, but I can't seem to find any sort of satisfaction in it.

I also find myself devoid of any free time since I'm always trying to figure out what's going on. My relationship with my friends and some family has taken a hit because of this and I feel like I don't have the time to attempt at things I want to do as hobbies like Brazilian ju jitsu or film making. Recently, because of this and the daily feelings of anxiety I stopped going to a lot of lectures and am not putting in anywhere near the effort I am supposed to be. I have tried to switch to general physics but can only do that in third year since in Trinity you have to do either biology or chemistry or Geoscience as well in the first two years and specialise in third year, so I'm missing a whole year of one of those modules. I can't switch to engineering or computer science or psychology either (other fields I'm interested in) since I would have to start from first year, but Ireland only covers fees for 4 years total so I'd have to pay full fees for the final year, which I can't afford.

Most people doing the course, although still finding it difficult, seem very passionate about it which makes me feel like I made a bad choice in choosing this course. Even if I switched to physical science in third year, I'm not sure if I'd enjoy it, nor do I want to do another year of this if I'm being honest (I don't mean to sound self entitled, I understand it's just one year but everyday I feel like I'm inching further into something that I'm not sure I can get out of in this course. I don't know if that makes any sense).

I'm just asking for advise really on what my course of action should be, it was poor of me to dive into this course without fully knowing what I was getting into, I understand.
 
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I can't switch to engineering or computer science or psychology either (other fields I'm interested in) since I would have to start from first year, but Ireland only covers fees for 4 years total so I'd have to pay full fees for the final year, which I can't afford.
Switching to a discipline that you're actually interested in seems like the only reasonable course of action to me, despite the additional cost. Staying the course at this point seems like a bad idea, especially since you have stopped attending many of the lectures and aren't putting in the effort that is needed to pass these courses. It seems to me that you have already made your decision but don't fully realize it.
 

PhanthomJay

Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
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Have you considered switching over to the Arts and taking courses in acting, theater, drama, film, and English and history, etc. ? Maybe you are already taking some courses in the arts which might shorten the time to get your BA.
 

berkeman

Mentor
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I can't switch to engineering or computer science or psychology either (other fields I'm interested in) since I would have to start from first year, but Ireland only covers fees for 4 years total so I'd have to pay full fees for the final year, which I can't afford.
That's unfortunate. At least here in the US at some (many?) schools, the first two years of undergrad are pretty similar for Physics and Engineering. I was torn between those two majors at the end of my first two years, but went with Engineering as my declared major.

Not only do I find these topics hard to grasp, but I have almost no interest in them.
If you don't love physics now, I don't think you should continue. Please look at all of your other options. I've said before here on the PF that when I used to buy my textbooks for each semester at the Book Store, I would love to open them up and skim through them. I always got goose bumps looking at what I would be studying and understanding in just a few months. Great stuff. But if you don't feel that same excitement and wonder, that's a strong indicator that it's time to stop and switch, IMO.
I can't switch to engineering or computer science or psychology either (other fields I'm interested in)
Which Engineering field would you be most interested in (and enjoy the most)?

I also find myself devoid of any free time since I'm always trying to figure out what's going on. My relationship with my friends and some family has taken a hit because of this and I feel like I don't have the time to attempt at things I want to do as hobbies like Brazilian ju jitsu or film making.
Well, no matter what happens, even if you find a major that you enjoy, if you want to excel in your studies, you may have to scale back on the normal recreational activities that you love. I was a 2nd degree brown belt in Kodenkan Jujitsu coming out of high school, and had so little spare time in college that I never got back to martial arts. My loss.

Anyway, maybe one path would be to take some time off from school, learn a trade (electrician, plumber, carpenter) and work for a few years as a journeyman. That will help you save up some money for college, and will give you time to explore your options for what you really want to do long-term. Figuring out a career path that you enjoy is really key to enjoying life, IMO.

Best wishes to you in whatever path you take.
 

StatGuy2000

Education Advisor
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Anyway, maybe one path would be to take some time off from school, learn a trade (electrician, plumber, carpenter) and work for a few years as a journeyman. That will help you save up some money for college, and will give you time to explore your options for what you really want to do long-term.
Last time I heard, Ireland has a much higher unemployment rate, so learning a trade and working as a journeyman may not be a particularly useful option unless the OP is willing to live and work abroad (in which case the OP may not be able to save money for further university studies).
 

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