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Yet another should I study physics? , thread

  1. Jun 4, 2012 #1
    Yet another "should I study physics?", thread

    Hello folks,

    First, since this is my first post on the forums, a short introduction. I'm a 23 year old student (pharmacy - 5 years to go!) living in the Netherlands.

    As far as I can remember I have been fascinated by astronomy & physics (science in general). I grew up reading about Sagan & Feynman's love for the subjects and they really made an impression on me.

    Recently, I've been thinking about going to Toronto where I spent my teenage years, to study physics/astronomy. I've been researching if this is would be wise move and frankly I've read quite a few negative posts, which surprised me...

    I also have big chance to get into medical school in the following year, here in the Netherlands (keep in mind it's at least 6-8 yrs long here).

    I love how physics is so useful, it explains nature, it's very practical & I'm just fascinated by astronomy. I've taken university level astronomy before & I can tell you I'll just be sitting in class with a clown smile on my face.

    So, I'm sitting here facing these potential career paths - I was about to give it all up & go back to Toronto to follow IMO, the "true" science, physics. My question is... is this sober thinking? Am I making a horrible mistake?

    I appreciate any & all input. It's late at night here so I apologize for any grammatical/spelling errors that I might have made!

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2012 #2


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    Re: Yet another "should I study physics?", thread

    Welcome to PF, Adapt!

    I'm going to use an analogy from another frequent poster here - twofish-quant. This analogy is about books like Sagan's. (I'll comment on Feynman later.)

    Reading about physics in books like Sagan's is like looking at photographs taken at the top of Mt Everest. So you look at the pictures and think, Oh wow, those pictures are so beautiful! I really really want to climb mountains!

    But here's what you have to realize: those pictures tell you *nothing* about what it's like to climb a mountain. They don't tell you about the struggle to keep water from freezing, or what to do if you have to poop while you're on a rope crossing an ice field, or the boredom of being in a tiny tent with three other climbers (who smell really bad) as you wait for the weather to clear.

    Studying physics is not like those books you read. It's really really tough. Do you like math? You are in for an unpleasant surprise if you don't. I know I sound harsh, but we get a lot of people here posting that they love Hawking's books, so why does algebra have to be so hard?

    But....you like Feynman. That's a good sign that you may truly like physics. You still have to really like math, though.

    My advice: unhook the move to Toronto from your physics ambitions - those are two different issues. You can find out if you really want to go down the physics path without moving. First, start taking math classes to see if you can do well. Then take some physics classes.

    As far as regrets, I only know the job market in the US. Pharmacy and/or med school = no problem finding employment. Physics = a lot more struggle finding employment, especially if you are geographically constrained.
  4. Jun 5, 2012 #3
    Re: Yet another "should I study physics?", thread

    Thanks for the welcome, Lisab!

    I understand what you mean. To answer your question, I do like math and eventhough I say it myself, I think I'm good at it. In my free-time I still mess around with a university borrowed calculus book :).

    That's the thing I like about physics very much, being able to make ' calculate' nature's ways & find out what it does, make graphs (we have lots of math in pharmacy as well - though not nearly as much as physics, of course) etc.

    I have thought about taking physics here in the Netherlands - but it is much more expensive here & I prefer to take it in English...

    What worries me, is like you said, the employment status. 4 years down the road, will I regret not taking the opportunity to become a physician/pharmacist because the job market will be so bad for physicists?
  5. Jun 14, 2012 #4
    Re: Yet another "should I study physics?", thread

    I realize now that this should have been posted in Academic Guidance, I apologize. Can a mod move this to the correct forum please?
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