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Studying How should I spend my winter break?

  1. Sep 29, 2016 #1
    I'm an international student in the US (UT Arlington) and I someone suggested that I should get some research experience outside during the winter. Is it possible? I'll definitely try getting it at my university, but out of curiosity, is it possible to get some experience in other universities?

    If not, how else can I make productive use of my break?

    P.S. I don't wanna spend > $3000 just to go home and come back (that's a metric ton of money)!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2016 #2
    I don't know where you live that it costs that much to fly home and back, but regardless... I don't know of any "organized" research experiences during the winter (since in most places, it's only ~1 month long). Maybe try some professors at your university?
  4. Sep 29, 2016 #3

    Dr Transport

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    look for field biology programs...... my neighbor's college biology kid needed a month long winter onsite experience thru University of Iowa for his degree.
  5. Sep 29, 2016 #4


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    How long is your winter break and exactly what period does it cover? Don't expect to get much done anywhere during the (approx.) two weeks that include Christmas and New Year.
  6. Sep 29, 2016 #5
    I believe it's from 17 December to 12 January and I'm a Physics major, interested in Astronomy as the specialization.
  7. Sep 29, 2016 #6
    I live in India. Although, I changed a few dates and I could get to $2000, but it's still damn too pricey for me.
  8. Sep 29, 2016 #7


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    As far as research is concerned, I think the best you'll be able to do is find a professor/project before the end of the semester, and have the prof give or assign you something to read during the break so you can learn about the project. For most people here, two of those weeks will have a lot of holiday activities, leaving only two weeks to do any real work. And professors who teach will be getting ready for next semester's classes.

    You're only a freshman, so it's not a disaster if you don't start research this year.
  9. Sep 29, 2016 #8


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    In my experience, students tend to drastically over-estimate what can be accomplished over the winter break. I remember friends who always took off with plans to read every chapter of their upcoming courses, work through a mountain of problems to get a jump start on the coming term, and then first day back it was rare that any of us had even opened a book!

    And there are many reasons this happens. The biggest one, I think, is that most people need a break. University is hard work. Taking time to socialize, catch up on sleep, read things that are not assigned to you, and generally do some fun stuff is important to maintaining balance in your life. Healthy down time is what allows you to push yourself through those weeks where you have a mid-term every day and three assignments due, etc.

    The other big one is that there tends to be a lot of extra-curricular stuff going on at this time - holiday parties, end-of-exam parties, family gatherings, old friends who want to get together, shopping for gifts... this all takes time. In some cases a single family get-together can be quite draining.

    This is also a time for catching up on other life-responsibilities. This is the time to buy new clothes, move into a new apartment, go see your dentist, do your car maintenance, etc. - basically catch up on all the little things that you've been putting off while at school.
  10. Sep 29, 2016 #9
    Not to mention that the dorms at many US universities close over winter break, so you might not be able to stay on campus.
  11. Sep 29, 2016 #10


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    Would spending NOT MORE THAN 6 WEEKS doing any research make sense? Maybe some targeted design or development but 6 weeks seems very short for any credible research - maybe fine if just a limited part of some research work.

    A good use of time between the terms is to study any topics in which you had trouble during the previous semester.
  12. Sep 30, 2016 #11


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    Are you a freshman? It's doubtful you can find anyone to do "research" with you outside your institution during this time.

    You probably won't find anyone at your institution either.

    Make friends at UT, plan a trip, explore America. Those are things you can do.
  13. Sep 30, 2016 #12
    Winter break is on the short side to get much done, research wise, unless you're already in a research group and they've identified skills you have that they need over a 3-4 week period when you have more time available.

    But even as you are headed in a direction of looking for research opportunities, you should put a resume together that communicates your skills and abilities. At the same time, consider how you can improve your skills and abilities to be of greater usefulness so you are more appealing as you are knocking on doors.

    At your stage of the game, programming skills and prior research experience are high on the list of attractive qualities. A list of science, math, and programming courses you have completed along with grades earned will also help faculty members evaluate your potential in their group. I also like to know how much spreadsheet experience and what data analysis experience and graphing tools students have used.

    Reach out with your resume early and often. Leave a copy with every professor you visit or email. Even if they don't have an idea or a spot for you now, it'll be in their head if they lose an undergraduate (undergrads are flaky, they bail often). Once you have a draft resume, I'd be happy to review it and give some tips if you pm it to me.
  14. Oct 4, 2016 #13
    Thank you, everyone, for your reply! I think I'll just ask one of my professors in my university if I can help them out in any way, if not, I'll chill and maybe do some concepts in Math/Physics.
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