Students' Feedback

 
Amy Kent, Worcester College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics ER

WORK PROJECTS
During the internship there was the opportunity to study fluid dynamics and quantum electrodynamics as well as further special topics from theoretical physics. The material was taught in a variety of styles; some classes, for example quantum electrodynamics, were taught as lectures and others, for instance fluid dynamics, as tutorials. We were set reading every day and discussed the ideas in the following tutorial. The tutors would always be happy to help with any questions and seeing them on a daily basis meant that there were plenty of opportunities to ask. I studied special topics in fluid dynamics, anomalous diffusion, perturbation methods, applications of group theory to differential equations and spin dynamics. We also had a chance to practise solving problems and applying numerical methods in the tutorials. I found the material we looked at really interesting. It was great to be exposed some content that I probably would not otherwise have come across during the undergraduate course in an environment where we could discuss ideas in small groups. One week of the programme was spent on a rafting trip down the Vishera river along with the Chemistry interns. It was  nice to have chance to explore the region around the city we were based in and we also got to know one another much better without the distraction of wifi!
 
DAILY LIFE
The settling in process in Perm was fairly short thanks to the friendliness of everyone involved in the internship programme. We were met at the airport by someone from the international department of the university who showed us where our home would be for the next eight weeks. The following day we met the members of the Physics department that we would be working with at the first of many tea parties. Here we were given an overview of what would happen during the programme and organised tutorial groups. After this we met student volunteers who showed us around the university and gave us a tour of the city. We were introduced to traditional Russian food when interns from all subjects met to go to a cooking class where we learnt to make Russian dumplings called pelmini. Daily Russian classes that were organised in the first week equipped us with the basics of communication and helped us feel slightly less daunted by the language barrier. Several cultural excursions were organised for the weekends including visits to local museums and an ice cave. During the week the majority of classes were scheduled in the morning, meaning that in the afternoon and evening there was often the chance to play badminton, beach volleyball, go to antigravity yoga classes or eat dinner with other Oxford interns or Russian students. Oxford versus Perm State University Physics Faculty football and basketball matches were fun. The Russian students did an amazing job of making us feel welcome and organised additional board games, trips to Gorky Park and helped us with any questions.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I am very glad that I completed this internship.  I could not have asked for a warmer welcome or friendlier people. Memories of the internship are accompanied by those of a vast country, beautiful landscapes and thirty degree heat. Studying in a city for an extended amount of time meant that we got a feel for how it would be to live in a city and the chance to meet people who live there. It was interesting to experience a different culture, especially given that I probably would not have visited the city without participating in the internship. Working in such close proximity with the members of the Physics department meant that we could ask more about what it means to work in science and the different paths people took to their current job. I found topics we studied very engaging and I think I would like to try and find a job within the science sector in the future. Another thing that was great about the internship was the chance to meet other people with similar interests who probably wouldn't socialise in Oxford had we not met on the internship. It has certainly been an unforgettable experience and I think that many of the people I have met will continue to be close friends well into the future. The level of teaching was very impressive, with the tutors very willing to give their time to help us with everything academic and pastoral.
 
 

Michael Hynes, Keble College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics

WORK PROJECTS
During my first 3 weeks, we learnt standard topics in fluid dynamics in classes of 3 students. For the 5 weeks of the internship, we had daily lectures on quantum electrodynamics. In the last 3 weeks we had special topics taught by a tutor who specialised in these specific topics. These are very interesting, as the tutors were hugely knowledgeable and conveyed a lot of enthusiasm for their topics. Overall the level of teaching was very impressive, with the tutors very willing to give their time to help us with everything academic and pastoral.

DAILY LIFE
I had an excellent balance while on the internship, with about 3-4 hours of teaching a day, supple-mented by reading and problem-solving outside of class. There was a sports hall about 2 minutes away from my accommodation where we could play badminton, basketball and table tennis. There were other sports facilities available, such as a gym and swimming pool. I ate out in a restaurant maybe 4 times a week, and cooked in the hostel otherwise, and this ended up being relatively cheap. On the weekends, the university were excellent in setting up excursions every Saturday, my favourite being the ice caves at Kungur. There were some good bars and clubs to visit on the weekend too. I socialised mostly with the other interns, although I regularly socialised with the Russian volunteers who were extremely willing to help us out whenever we needed.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I had a great time during my internship in Perm. I made some great friends in Russia, and would be open to going back. I would be more open to going to Moscow in future, as I don't think my aspirations would be satisfied in Perm. It hasn't confirmed my career goals yet, but after having some experience elsewhere, it will definitely give me a lot of insight when that decision comes.
 


Joseph Lee, Balliol College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics and Philosophy

WORK PROJECTS
We had a lecture series on quantum electrodynamics and tutorials on fluid dynamics. On top of that, there were a few short options that we could choose from, including Lie Groups and differential equations, spin waves and magnetism, anomalous diffusion and introduction to analytic perturbation method. In terms of difficulty, the courses are quite suitable for 2nd/3rd year Physics or Mathematics students, and would be fine for industrious Engineering students as well. Most of the courses required reading literature in advance and sometimes homework to be done after class. The tutors and lecturers were really friendly and helpful, both academically and personally. Outside of the time spent on lectures and tutorials, we had quite a lot of free time to read, play sports etc.

DAILY LIFE
There were about 15 of us from Oxford doing Phys-ics and around 10 more doing other subjects. We spent most of our time together, during lecturers and in our free time. We stayed in a hostel on campus in rooms of 3, which contains facilities including kitchen, hot shower. There is also a cafeteria on campus, but we mostly cooked lunch and dinner on our own. Everything is quite convenient there, with a supermarket 10 minutes away from the hostel and a sports centre with basketball court, badminton court, and gym right next to the hostel. The only inconvenience was having to purchase and carry drinkable water once every few days back to the hostel, as tap water is not potable, but we got used to it fairly quickly. Outside of studying, we had quite a bit of free time, and our tutors and the international office organised a lot of fun activities for us, such as football and basketball match es, beach volleyball at the digital port, yoga classes etc. We also made friends with a few student volunteers from the university, and they showed us around the city. We were given a number of Russian lessons that allowed us to order in restaurants etc., as most people in Perm do not speak any English. We had weekend trips to attractions around Perm, such as the Khokhlovka Ethnographic Museum and Kungur Ice Cave, which were quite enjoyable. More importantly, we went on an 8 day rafting trip, which was very well organised and fun, during which we enjoyed some incredibly scenic views along the Kama River.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I would say this internship as a whole was quite delightful. Unlike other internships, we didn't have to work on any particular project; instead, we were given a lot of freedom to choose which courses to take and how much work to put in. The Physics courses are really stimulating, and I hope they prove useful further down my academic life. At the beginning, the idea of staying in a city in Russia for 2 months was quite daunting, but after a week or so we got quite used to it, and I felt quite comfortable staying there. Everyone we interacted with, including other Oxford students, student volunteers from the university, the international department and our Physics tutors and lecturers are all lovely and supportive, which made the internship really pleasant. I'm glad to have come to Russia and learn a bit about its vast culture and its beautiful language. I don't think I would come back to work in Perm, but I wouldn't rule out working in other parts of Russia. This internship has broadened my understanding and interest in different fields of Physics, which I think would be useful in the future when I have to choose my course option and career path.
 

David Garrick, Worcester College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics

WORK PROJECTS
We had a planned course of study of a number of physical topics - the primary course was fluid dynamics, with a number of optional topics covering fluids, quantum theory and group theory. The form of teaching was similar to an Oxford tutorial, with 4 students discussing reading with the tutor. We were provided with electronic forms of the textbooks to read in our own time and some problems to do which we would discuss with the tutors. Additionally there were Russian lessons to learn basic vocabulary, with the option for further Russian to improve your grammar and vocabulary which proved very useful when interacting with Russian people in restaurants or shops, for example.

DAILY LIFE
Daily life usually consisted of a few hours of lectures or classes, and then whatever personal work on the topics you had been set or wished to do. Most interns lived in the same buildings, and sharing a room with two other interns led quickly to making a circle in which to work and socialise. The afternoons being free, we would often play badminton or basketball in the university gym, or go out into Perm for lunch or dinner. Every week-end there was an opportunity to go on a cultural excursion into Perm or the surrounding region to see museums or landmarks with the other interns.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS
The experience of living in a foreign country for 7 weeks is the biggest impression the internship will leave on me - living in a place where you do not speak the language, or where cultural norms may be different, or where food available in restaurants or shops is not the same and so you must adapt your lifestyle slightly to suit the country you are in. Getting the'Russian take on life and also on the Physics we studied is a useful perspective on what it means to be British or not, and I found it a useful experience with which to reflect on my own life in England. I personally would not return to live in Russia for an extended period of time, primarily because I found lacking sufficient ability in Russian made life often difficult - communicating with others, especially in unexpected circumstances, could sometimes be stressful. That said, I would still recommend it to someone else.
 

Jack Atkinson, Oriel College, 3rd Year MPhys Physics

WORK PROJECTS
This internship was entirely learning-based. We spent 2-3 hours a day with tutors in classes, and 1-2 hours a day doing independent learning. There were two main topics of study: fluid mechanics and quantum electro-dynamics. We initially studied core topics in both subjects, with the fluid mechanics taught in classes of four and the QED taught as an informal lecture for all of us. For the second half of the internship, we chose from a series of topics to study, taught to smaller classes again. Each of the six partaking academics taught one topic, focussed on their own area of research and the wider applications for the methods used. For example, one topic was "Practical application of group-theory methods for problems of continuous media mechanics".

DAILY LIFE
For the first few days we spent in Russia, we had a number of English-speaking Russian students who were more than willing to help us to adjust in any way possible, for example buying SIM cards and taking us to local restaurants. A number of the students stayed in contact and met with us for meals, which certainly helped us to feel at home in the city. The University organised a series of cultural activities on the weekends, such as touring local museums and visiting the nearby Kungur ice caves. Again, these included either English-speaking guides or translators. The Physics tutors also made us feel very welcome; each day we all met for tea and biscuits, and had the option of visiting the gym or sports hall; they also organised beach volleyball, yoga and pancake-eating for us through out the internship. As a number of us lived on the same floor of one accommodation block, we would socialise, eat and discuss work together throughout the day. All this meant there was plenty to do, and we never felt lonely or isolated despite being in a large city in a foreign country. The internship was well planned, and I felt very much at home during my time in Perm.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS
There are a number of cultural differences between Perm and the UK that were apparent to me during my two months here. The lifestyle was quite different, for example not being able to drink the tap water; in the city, most live in tower blocks, and outside the city most live in wooden huts. Certainly it makes me more appreciative of the quality of living in the UK. However much of the countryside here is stunning; we spent a week rafting as part of the internship, and saw beautiful views of rivers, trees, cliffs and sky, almost untouched by humans. If I were to return to Russia, it would be for a holiday, as I would like to see more of the Ural Mountains and the wilderness that lies beyond. From the internship itself, I gained valuable insight into the life of a researcher or academic, at least here in Perm. It is still something I'd like to pursue, though I don't see myself moving to Russia full time to achieve it.
 

Conor Lenihan, Balliol College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics

WORK PROJECTS
While on the internship we did various courses in Physics focussing on fluid dynamics and quantum electrodynamics as well as having the opportunity to have some optional topics to cover including some further fluid dynamics including stability theory and the diffusion process as well as courses in solving differential equations using Lie groups and quantum mechanics. We also had some Russian lessons with optional further classes. We also went on an 8 day rafting trip on the Vishera river camping by the side of the river at night. The University was extremely helpful with providing support for us at the start of the internship; after arriving the first thing we got was a tour of the centre of Perm by some language students from the university and we could always get in contact with the international department if we needed any help with anything. There was also a group of English speaking volun-teers from the Perm Physics department who were willing to help out if we needed. The university was extremely helpful with providing support for us....we could always get in contact with the international department if we needed any help with anything.
 
DAILY LIFE
Daily life on the internship was good furi; at the beginning there was quite a lot of work with morning and afternoon classes, but with a tea break in between where we got to try some Russian homemade tea and Russian snacks. As the internship wore on the amount of work became more optional and so there was more free time. We used this to explore Perm and we got taken to some cultural spots in Perm on trips organised by the university. We were also provided access to the sports facilities in the university so could play badminton, basketball and table tennis on most af-ternoons. It took me a little while to settle into the accommodation as I found the bed a little uncomfortable and the showers didn't have hot water for part of the time but it was the kind of thing you can get used to quite quickly. We were in a dormitory with other people on the internship so could socialise with the other Oxford students as well as the volunteers from the university, and our tutors from the Physics department organised some trips to a couple of bars and to a volleyball court.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I had some great experiences on the trip including rafting the Vishera river and camping on the bank. While on the trip we used a Russian sauna (called a banya) before jumping into the river to cool down. The entire trip had beautiful scenery and the weather was fantastic apart from a couple of brief thunderstorms. I wouldn't want to live in Russia in the future as I think the cultural and language differences are too great for me to want to spend much longer than I have here. The internship had little effect on my career aspirations since researching in Physics is very different from learning it so wasn't particularly informative in this regard. I may consider returning to Russia as a tourist in the future since there are a lot of places I haven't seen and I have enjoyed my time here.
 
 

Joseph Welford, The Queen's College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics
 
WORK PROJECTS
Over the internship we had tutorials on a range of different subjects, the main focus being on fluid dynamics. This gave me a good insight into the topic which is useful for my studies next year. We worked our way through Landau&Liftshitz, making notes and completing problems. Our tutor would give context to the work with anecdotes relating to the Physics, I found this especially interesting and useful. There was plenty of time to read around the topic, making notes on the chapters of Landau that we hadn't covered in tutorials. We had a number of lectures on QED which was very interesting up until the point I ceased to follow the work on the board. If I had committed more time to the topic I believe I could've kept up with the work. There were a few special topics available each taught by different tutors, I picked mine based mainly on the style of teaching of the tutor. These subjects did not go in depth but introduced us to the main concepts/techniques of each field.
 
DAILY LIFE
I had no idea what to expect from life in Perm but we settled in very well. My friends from uni were also doing the internship with me but that only seemed to increase the amount of new people we met on the trip. We got to know the other interns quickly through events organised by Perm Uni. Soon enough we were mates with the local students, most of whom could thankfully speak good English. Even just on our floor we got to know people from Iraq, Kyrgyzstan and China. A typical day would be: Wake up at 9.00 am, tute at 9.30am for a few hours, a tea break then another tute. Head to the beach by the river at 2.00 pm, go for a swim. Back and do some reading/making notes. Either cook tea or go out for a meal as it's generally very cheap. Then usually chat with the others on our floor before bed. Outside of work we had a few excursions organised and had at least one night out a week.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I didn't know what to expect from the locals but they were incredibly friendly. Most can speak reasonable English and were very happy to meet actual English people! I would love to return to Perm, I plan to one day to do the full Trans-Siberian and stay here for a few days. The internship helped confirm my career goals.
 
 

Liam Langshaw, The Queen's College, 2nd Year BA Physics
 
WORK PROJECTS
Throughout the internship, a series of topics were explored in small groups. These were each taught by a different tutor, but we got to know all of them personally. Some of the projects were directly relevant to future studies, and other topics were offered to provide a deeper look into special areas of Physics. Generally, these topics were relevant to the research interests of the university.
 
DAILY LIFE
Settling into life in Perm was incredibly easy. We were guided around the city on the first night and the people there made me feel right at home. During weekdays, the mornings would be spent in small classes with 3-4 others working on topics such as fluid dynamics or quantum electrodynamics. Most afternoons were spent exploring the huge number of museums, cafés, and sights that the city had to offer. The accommodation was not solely for Oxford students, so we had the opportunity to meet current and international students at the University. This gave me the chance to develop my Russian language and explore more hidden aspects of the city. Midway through the 7 week internship, we spent just over a week rafting down the Vishera river. The picturesque scenery provided an ideal break from work and, as with the other 6 weeks, the weather was constantly sunny. Overall, the balance of work and socialising was very flexible. It meant that I had the chance to make the internship very personal to my interests and really get the most out of my 7 weeks in Perm.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
After travelling to Russia last year on a similar internship, this year has cemented my love of the country. Although we were blessed with non-stop sunshine, I have no doubt that Perm is a city that I'd return to in the future. I've studied a great deal of physics which is directly relevant to my studies next year, achieved a further insight into Russian culture, and gained an ambition to increase my profiency with Russian language.
 

Zhiyuan Li, Mansfield College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics
 
WORK PROJECTS
The projects mostly involve lecturing, and a few cultural tours. Volunteers are extremely helpful there because I can't speak Russian, and most of the local people don't speak English.
 
DAILY LIFE
A typical day would be lectures in the morning (about 2 or 3 hours), and then do some sports with other interns, and homework in the evening. We also went to pubs with the teachers sometimes, and there were cultural tours visiting museums as well.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
Perm is peaceful and the people were generally nice and welcoming. The cost of living was pretty low as well. The cultural tours made me feel comfortable to work in Russia in the future. However it has not changed my goals or ambitions. I've studied a great deal of physics which is directly relevant to my studies, achieved insight into Russian culture, and gained an ambition to increase my proficiency with Russian lanauge.
 

Daniel Bryan, St. Anne's College, 2nd Year MPhys
 
WORK PROJECTS
Initially we had compulsory fluid dynamics tu¬torials every day and Russian lessons for the first week. Then Russian was replaced by a quantum electrodynamics lecture course. We eventually were able to choose special topics which I chose to do all of. These were lie groups and differential equations, magnetics and spin waves, perturbation theory, advanced fluid dynamics, diffusion. These were all taught very well and lie groups and quantum electrodynamics were particularly helpful for theoretical physics as many transformations in the laws of physics are lie groups and the operators (e.g. in quantum mechanics) are their generators. This links in well with the classical mechanics and quantum mechanics I took in the second year. The quantum electrodynamics built on my knowledge of Quantum mechanics from last year, extending it to the relativistic theory: we studied mainly the Dirac equation, its solutions, the second quantisation and finally interactions, cross sections and Feynman diagrams which are needed for particle physics. The other topics such as fluid dynamics we had many tutorials in e.g. solving the Navier-Stokes equation for viscous fluids. The maths we learned in our diffusion option was interesting as I did not previously know that you can define a fractional derivative (such as Caputo derivative).
 
DAILY LIFE
I stayed in the same corridor as the other interns. Initially it was difficult to obtain drinking water as the tap water is not drinkable but this improved as I found out where you can buy water. Lessons started between 9-10am and ended at about 2pm (with a tea break from 12-12:30) depending on the week and which options you take. I found the beds a little uncomfortable but started using an inflatable mat-tress on top of the bed and slept better. We played badminton almost every day at 3pm which was fun. The canteen was open at lunchtime and was just opening in the morning so I could usually eat there then. There was no food provided in the evening which means we either cooked or walked into the city to eat. We often ate out with the tutors as well which was fun and interesting. We went on a rafting/camping trip one week in the Urals where we were far away from any civilisation and we talked and played games often around a fire. We could talk to the Russian tutors (some came with us) and in-structors who spoke good English, although most of the other Russians couldn't speak English. On Saturdays we sometimes went on trips, for example to the Kungur ice caves and a weapons museum in Perm.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
This summer school in theoretical physics definitely confirmed my career goals and ambitions in theoretical physics as the lessons, especially quantum electrodynamics and lie groups, were extremely interesting and outlined the fundamental aspects of physics. A lot of effort was put into these lessons and tutorials and I learned how many aspects of Physics are unified which makes me even more keen to help unify quantum electrodynamics with general relativity in my future career and do research in quantum gravity. Living and studying in Russia was a very interesting experience. Living standards are very different, everyone was very friendly and helpful and I enjoyed getting to know the country. We regularly played football or volleyball with Russian students, which was a great experience even though we usually lost. The rafting trip in the Ural Mountains was a very special experience. Temperatures throughout the internship were very high which could sometimes feel a bit too hot in Perm but during this week of camping it was great. The nature was amazingly beautiful. I am an amateur bird watcher and really enjoyed seeing the flora and fauna in the Ural mountains. I would consider returning for work in Russia. I think the internship showed me how open I would he to working somewhere else in the world or in a different language.
 

Cameron Eodie, Exeter College, 2nd Year MEng Engineering Science
 
WORK PROJECTS
I had lectures and classes every day on various subjects and was set work to do in the afternoons. The subjects included quantum electrodynamics and spin waves, fluid dynamics and anomalous diffusion, and an application of group theory methods to solving differential equations. The teachers had well-prepared classes and pushed our understanding and appreciation of the topics.
 
DAILY LIFE
I settled in quite well and really enjoyed the company of people I was with and the teachers. We had classes and lectures of various sizes and were set homework assignments to do which we all discussed regularly and completed in the evenings. Outside of work we played basketball and badminton in the sports hall, as well as sometimes going to play volleyball near the river and doing anti-gravity yoga which was great fun.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I really got a positive impression of Russia and its people, everyone was so friendly and inviting and there was always a positive atmosphere. I might consider working there at some point, the culture and the language as well as the people really interested me. I think the internship showed me how open I would be to working somewhere else in the world or in a different language if necessary.

Marius Todea, Mansfield College, 2nd Year MMath Mathematics
 
WORK PROJECTS
Throughout the internship we were given lec¬tures and tutorials on a range of topics including fluid dynamics, quantum theory, perturbation theory and differential equations. The subjects we covered most material in were fluid dynamics and quantum theory. For me, having had no background in these areas made it a little bit more challenging, but the things that I learned signifi-cantly enriched my view of how physics and mathematics surround us. I liked the fact that the pro-fessors tried to recreate (at least in some subjects) the tutorial system in Oxford. These tutorials were indeed very similar to the ones in Oxford, with us being split in groups of 3-4 and being given home assignments, which we discussed the next day, as well as being exposed to new material. In terms of workload, I would say it was neither too much nor too little: 2-3 hours of lectures plus another 2-3 hours of study per day. We also took part in a 7-day rafting trip during the 5th week, which was a good opportunity to explore the Russian wilderness and to get to know the other interns better.
 
DAILY LIFE
The university provided us with accommodation on the campus, which means that we lived within 2 minutes walking distance from the main buildings (where all the lectures and tutorials took place) and within 30 minutes by tram from the city centre. During the first week we were given some classes in the basics of Russian. Since I already knew some Russian, I was able to ask for more advanced classes. This, combined with the fact that I was immersed in a Russian-speaking environment, helped me improve my skills in this language. Settling in wasn't hard, thanks to the Russian volunteers who took care of us at the beginning. They were very nice people, always answering our queries and accompanying us wherever we needed to go. During the weekend there were visits to the main attractions in and around Perm, in order for us to familiarise ourselves a little with the history and culture of the place. Other interesting activities included a Russian cooking course and going out with the professors and the other interns. Perm is a big city (1 million inhabitants), but much quieter than one would expect from a city of this size. The living costs are significantly lower than in Oxford, which makes Perm an even better location for a summer internship.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
This internship was, above all, a very good cultural experience. I met new interesting people and learnt a lot about Russia. I would recommend this internship to anybody interested in Russia and/or theoretical Physics.

David Hosking, Merton College, 2nd Year MPhys Physics
 
WORK PROJECTS
I studied courses in: fluid dynamics, quantum field  theory, group theory, anomalous diffusion, perturbation theory and quantum mechanical spin waves.
 
DAILY LIFE
A typical day involved: Waking up at 9am to head to a morning quantum electrodynamics lecture followed by a 10:30 class on group theory. We had a tea break with the other physicists at 12 and then an afternoon class on fluid dynamics at 12:30. After lunch at 2, we would play badminton at 3 until 5. In the evening I usually socialised with my fellow interns and made dinner until around 9 before completing the assigned work for the next day until bed at around midnight.
 
LASTING IMPRESSIONS
I enjoyed the internship and felt I learned a lot of interesting physics. I found Russian people very friendly, and enjoyed learning about their culture and history. The weather was fantastic, it made the internship for me - it allowed lots of outdoor activities such as beach volleyball and made the rafting trip spectacular. I may well return to Russia in future. It has only confirmed my career goals and ambitions.

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