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What to do in the summer?

  1. Jun 6, 2013 #1
    I'm an undergraduate student, currently finishing up my first year. Unfortunately, my country's universities do not have many research opportunities, and thus I have virtually nothing to do as such in my summer.

    I've started teaching myself Python for now, but what else should I do? I was thinking of teaching myself classical mechanics from Marion&Thornton (we only had Newtonian Mechanics so far in sem 1). Does that seem like a good idea to keep my brain active?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2013 #2


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    It would help to know what country you are in, and what university students in your country do during the summer when not in school. For example, do students work in the summer in your country, as students often do in Canada and the US?

    As far as teaching yourself Python or classical mechanics (I assume you intend to major in physics), I see nothing wrong with teaching yourself anything if it indeed keeps your mind sharp and active.
  4. Jun 6, 2013 #3


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    If at all possible, I recommend getting a summer job. This isn't just for financial reasons. Working even menial jobs will give you experience that is helpful in deciding what you really want to do with your life after you graduate, help you to develop marketable skills, and expand your ability to network.

    As far as keeping your mind engaged... that's really up to you. Some students need some time off to relax and it's best if they don't really do anything for a couple of months other than reflect on what they've learned. This helps to avoid burnout. Other students need or even crave more stimulation. If you're in that second category, my advice is to either find a project that you really enjoy and/or read up on the stuff in your field that you're interested in. So rather than trying to "teach yourself Python" instead, try to solve an optimization problem using Python as a tool.
  5. Jun 6, 2013 #4
    @StatGuy : I'm from India. While a few universities have some research opportunities available, they are mostly occupied by people who happen to have contacts in these universities, or are geniuses, of which I am neither. The other students...well they're pretty much in the same boat as me. They don't really 'work' as there are no jobs as such available.

    @Choppy : Getting a summer job is something I thought about, but again, it's almost impossible to get any sort of job unless you have the credentials or some prior experience. As a 19 year old student with no degrees or experience, I won't be getting any job. I'd also much rather spend my time learning about my subject, to be honest.

    Mechanics has always been my favorite subject ; since I've done Newtonian mechanics, does it make sense to delve deeper into the subject with Classical Mechanics?

    Thanks for the replies guys!
  6. Jun 6, 2013 #5
    It doesn't require any "credentials" to be a cashier at a corner store (for example), really any job will do. I totally understand that getting a job is easier said then done, but you should at least be trying.

    If you can't get a research position (even a non-paid one) I suggest looking through the textbooks you'll be using in your courses next fall. You don't have to religiously study them as if you were preparing for the exam, but casually reading and doing a few problems will keep your mind prepared. It'll obviously also give you a head start on the tougher material.
  7. Jun 7, 2013 #6
    Apologies, I thought you were talking about jobs a little more specialized than that. I'll consider looking for a job, though my priority remains to improve my academic side. I agree with you regarding reading next semester's courses ; I think I shall do that, along with learning some programming (or as you said, using it to solve a problem if I come across one). I shall also attempt to improve upon my Mechanics knowledge.

  8. Jun 7, 2013 #7


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    Hey dreamLord.

    If you are doing some programming, try and structure some kind of project. Make it larger than you can accomplish but small enough so that it is still achievable to get most of it done.

    Once you do something make it into a library and consider building on it in later projects.

    If for some reason you decide to apply for this kind of work later on, you can take your projects and talk about them if you get to interview stage.

    Also think about each project: what did you learn? What are the differences between the realities and what you envisioned before you started? What went wrong? What went right? What specifically did you not anticipate that caused headaches?

    This kind of activity is great for project work even if its non software because you get an idea of things that apply to all projects: namely that things don't go to plan and that what you envisage is not what actually happens.
  9. Jun 7, 2013 #8


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    Since you stated you are in India, are you a student at IIT, or a school of a similar calibre? I would assume that schools like these would have research opportunities available.

    If you have done well in your classes, you could also consider speaking with some of your professors and ask him/her what options, if any, might be available for internships. Are there opportunities for foreign exchanges or internships overseas? Don't many Indian students work abroad during their summer months?

    You may be right that there may not be many jobs during the summer, given that despite its impressive economic progress in recent years, India is still a poor country with millions lacking employment.
  10. Jun 7, 2013 #9
    @Chiron : Thanks for the advice, but I don't quite understand what projects you mean. Any ideas? I don't think programming is going to be one of my hobbies ; I see it only as tool, if you get what I mean.

    @StatGuy : Nope, my university is of a much lower calibre than the IITs. They have some research opportunities, but mine doesn't, at all. Especially not for 1st years. Truth be told, I've left it a little late for me to talk to my professors since school reopens around June 20th, which gives me only 45 days. And no, I have not heard of any exchange programs - do you know whether the US has any opportunities for internationals? I will definitely try and get some summer research done next year.
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