Student Profile

Filip, 2012

Fourth Year Theoretical Physics and Maths

Filip pictured with the two-trains a day timetable in Melville, Saskatchewan,
during his year of Study Abroad in Canada.

When I started my studies in St Andrews I was very deeply interested in the connection between Physics and Philosophy. Then I found out that during the first two years of my course I could take modules from various different subjects. This fact turned out to be extremely helpful to me. Although I have greatly enjoyed the Philosophy courses, I was gradually realizing that I had a much stronger interest in Physics and so I was able to switch to the programme I am pursuing now. I think that the St Andrews University system is very student-friendly. I believe that the life of students is very spontaneous and full of curiosity so that the possibility of trying out different subjects without the ultimate commitment to them is a great way of fulfilling this need. Based on my own experience I see now that my first two years in St Andrews gave me a great opportunity to experience Philosophy in which I hadn’t had any formal courses at my school so that I could check for myself which subjects I would like to pursue further. Moreover, the university also gave me an opportunity to continue my studies of German which greatly complement my development in Physics and Mathematics.

I really like the St Andrews Physics Department. The staff are very friendly, helpful, full of enthusiasm and easily approachable. I also greatly enjoy the fact that the relation between students and staff is very informal which makes it much easier for students to find help when they are in need (for me that was completely new, since in Poland, where I come from, I would generally expect a significant distance between students and lecturers). Moreover, the Physics Department is relatively small in terms of the number of students which makes it even easier for students to establish close connections with lecturers. The lectures are very interactive and tutorials in very small groups allow for a thorough discussion of all the individual questions.

Last year I also had an amazing opportunity of doing a year abroad at Queen’s University in Canada. It has been great to experience quite a different academic system. It taught me flexibility and showed to me that while Physics is universal the methodologies of conveying it are different. Therefore I found that life is much easier when I am able to quickly adapt myself to these different systems. On a wider scale my year in Canada and contact with many different cultures taught me flexibility in many aspects of my life. It is great to experience that something that I always regarded as “a rigid way of how things are” turned out to be just the matter of convention. Finally my year abroad was a wonderful travel adventure which finished with an amazing 4.5 day-long train journey from Toronto to Vancouver. Canadian landscapes, nature and the general sense of space there are so incredible! I am very thankful for this wonderful year and I think that it is really great that Physics students have an opportunity to go on a full-year exchange to North America.

During the last summer I was doing a summer project in St Andrews under supervision of Drs. Dmytro Vasylyev and Natalia Korolkova. I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity of having a direct experience of research as a theoretical physicist. I am very thankful to my supervisors for their great help and huge amount of time which they spent with me explaining to me the mysteries of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information. This summer research was for me an introduction to those areas of Physics and I have become very fascinated by them. Therefore I would like to pursue further studies in the theory of the Physics of light. The project resulted in a paper which is currently under review for publication.

Filip is pictured here with some of the other students who had done a research internship in the School in the summer of 2012. Their posters were part of a competition and celebration of student research.

Finally I would like to mention how beautiful St Andrews is to me. Not only does its historical character give the town a unique magical atmosphere but it is also so wonderful to be able to walk on the beach every day and admire the amazing coastal landscape with its variety of different rocks, cliffs...

I greatly recommend St Andrews with everything it has to offer.

First posted BDS 18.11.12