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Courses Summer Courses in MIT (or elsewhere)?

  1. Apr 11, 2010 #1

    I've always dreamt about doing my master (is it called graduate?) abroad, in some renowned university, thinking you'd get drenched into the physics and mathematics society. On the other hand, it is hard to compare it with my own university (in Belgium, Leuven) as I know nothing about those universities, so I was wondering if there were maybe something like Summer Courses given by MIT? Would it be crazy to go to the US as a european in the summer for such courses (if they exist)? Or would you recommend other summer courses (MIT is just the university I happen to know most about due to the recorded lectures, but in the end there is no special reason).

    Thank you,
    mr. vodka

    PS: I forgot to mention at the moment I'm a first year bachelor student in physics (undergraduate is the word, I think)

    PPS: just a side-question if you happen to be reading this and might know: are there grants for foreign students wanting to do their master abroad?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 11, 2010 #2
    I'm sure it's probably offered, but beware because it's likely to be heinously expensive. About $5000 or more isn't unheard of and really, what will taking a summer calculus class at a famous university do for you? Diddly squat. You're better off honing your problem-solving skills and working on research in Belgium than wasting money hoping you'll get something by just being in the general area of a good university. Brilliance is brilliance; if you work hard where you are, learn all you can, and aggressively pursue opportunities than you can go anywhere you like without problems.

    And there are grants for grad students but it depends on the school. If it's a public university, that's almost always supported by the government, so you must be a US citizen to qualify since there is no grants offered by the US government to foreign students that I'm aware of.
  4. Apr 11, 2010 #3
    Oh wow I thought summer courses were something offered freely by the university to arouse interest. Was I wrong on that one...

    And you're probably right about that it's all possible anywhere. I just got a bit of fear of missing beautiful insights given by professors that have proven to excell greatly in a certain area, totally mastering it, and all the greatest minds teach at the greatest universities. But I'm sure there's also a great deal of exaggeration on that account and that's why I thought I could check out a summer course, but finding out it's that expensive, I'll sure pass on that.

    I got this grand vision of an active community full of people thrilled to be active within the field of physics and heavily discussing with each other (something that is not truly alive in my university) but that's probably an idealistic view ("grass always greener on the other side" and such).
  5. Apr 11, 2010 #4
    Whatever you think american universities are, they're probably not. I think maybe many Europeans have this misconception.
  6. Apr 11, 2010 #5
    Lol, that sounds quite dry. You're probably quite right though.

    But it's not that I'm fixed on the states. Maybe Germany? Just somewhere where it's truly alive and breathing. If that exists. It's all quite dull in this little country. Summer courses sounded like a nice try-out. Sadly, they're not.
  7. Apr 11, 2010 #6
    Ah, the trials of being a nerd. My university's physics department is one of the top 10 in the nation but you wouldn't know it from just walking around our campus. No matter where you go, From MIT to Cornell to Belgium, physics isn't exactly a huge field and you'll have to do a bit of work to find people who are as excited about the subject as you are. They exist everywhere though; even in Belgium. What you are thinking of sounds more like a physics utopia.

    That being said, I hardly think that you're at the point in your physics education where you require a world-class professor because, odds are, there's still a LOT for you to learn. Day dreaming that having a great professor will suddenly somehow transform you into a great physicist is like saying 'Oh, I would write a New York Times bestseller no problem if only I had a better word processor and a fancy fountain pen!' I'm not trying to be patronizing, but this is a really common thing I've seen and it's a bit frustrating. You have the potential to be great, but there is a lot of insight and thinking that you need to do before your proficiency level gets so great that you can actually benefit from learning from excellent professors. At this point, that is, undegrad education, going to MIT to take a general course in physics or math is rather like hiring Andrew Wiles to teach you precalculus. Good luck
  8. Apr 11, 2010 #7
    I get what you're saying. I don't agree with the remark that at this stage it wouldn't do much if you had a great professor, cause I've checked online courses (taped lessons) from big universities and they were helpful and often more insightful than how I've seen it. Often it's actually just the love for physics that radiates from them, body and soul. I think every professor should be no less than that. And I'm pretty sure a bad basics can screw you when you are ready (year-wise) for the bigger places, but then again, my university ain't all that bad either, so I don't think I should be worried about that. But I do agree with your general point in that I should for now just stfu and do it over here the best I can and enjoy it no matter where it is. Thanks for the good luck, same to you.

    PS: I do still believe in the physics utopia... somewhere, in far off places
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