Alisa, Fourth Year Physics

When I put in my application for St Andrews, I knew very little about the place, except that it had a stellar reputation for Physics and three beaches. I don’t know why the latter point resonated with me so much, but somehow three definitely seemed better than just one. Since coming here, I have found a great many more reasons to love this place.

The School of Physics and Astronomy offers an enviable range of modules to choose from, and in the last couple of years of my degree I have an opportunity to specialise, with complex fields presented from a research perspective by world experts. The department’s most valuable trait, though, is the unique relationship between students and staff. There is a sense of mutual respect, and this, coupled with relatively small class sizes, leads to the opportunity for ample questions and subject exploration. It is because of this ease of communication within the School that I was able to find my first internship within one of our experimental condensed matter research groups. This sparked my interest in the subject, and I now find myself about to embark upon my second summer of working abroad in a related field.

Alisa working on PETRA III, DESY, Hamburg, Summer 2017

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to take part in the inner workings of both the School and the University at large, first as a Class Representative, and then as the elected School President of Physics and Astronomy. I have enjoyed working with staff and students through these roles, and have found that the School is always keen to listen to and work cooperatively with the student voice.

Outside of the department, some of my most memorable experiences at the University so far have come from my involvement with various student societies. I have been lucky enough to hold committee positions in the Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Societies at various points over my years here. I have sawed, hammered, designed drones and run soldering workshops with the Engineering Society. I have organised a trip to CERN for the Physics society, rediscovering my ability to argue over the phone in French and my love of fondue (both cheese and chocolate) in the process. I have trained in the use of the University’s impressive array of telescopes, drunk countless cups of hot chocolate, and hunted the northern lights in far-off Norway with AstroSoc.

Alisa exploring Norway with AstroSoc, March 2017

I have found that along with the hard work, at St Andrews there is adventure to be had, and friends to be made. Oh, and having three beaches is still pretty great.

First posted BDS 26.8.18