Are you a St Petersburg dweller? You live in the students’ hostel, don’t you? How much does it take you to get to the university?
Why have you made up your mind to study maths?
Who has encouraged you? Your school teacher or your parents (friend)?
What foreign language(s) do you study? Have you got any difficulties with English? Why?
What year student are you?
How many lectures do you have weekly?
Do you attend them regularly?
What is your favourite subject? What is your favourite field in modern maths?
Are you good at (geometry)?
How many exams will you have in summer? In what subjects?
Have you ever failed an exam? In what subject did you fail?
Do you work regularly or by fits and starts?
Are there any students’ scientific societies at your faculty? Are you a member of any? What research work have you done?
Are there any sport societies and theatrical groups at the faculty? Have you ever taken part in an amateur performance?
¹ 2. Ask your fellow students:
… what new subjects she(he) has this year
… how many classes she(he) has every day
… if she(he) attends classes regularly
… what subjects she(he) is especially good at
… if she(he) fell behind the group when she (he) was ill
… if it took her(his) much time to catch up with the group
… if she(he) has already begun to read for the exams
… if she(he) always comes in time for classes
… what her(his) favourite subject is
… what subjects she(he) had in the first year
… how long her(his) university course runs
¹ 3. To get ready to discuss the topic you should read the texts, learn the vocabulary and do some activities:
1. Introductory Text
2. Ex 1. Text “My University Studies”. (Äîðîæêèíà Â.Ï., Ó÷åáíèê, ñ.24).
3. Ex 2 Text “My Future Profession”. (Äîðîæêèíà Â.Ï., Ó÷åáíèê, ñ.26).
4. Supplementary Reading: “Ruth at College” (Extract from the book by A. Brookner “A Star in Life”. Abridged); Classroom Notetaking; Examination.
¹ 4. Introductory Text
The merry-go-round of university life is something that one never forgets. It’s fascinating, fantastic, fabulous experience, irrespective of the fact whether one is a full-time or a part-time student.
Who can forget the first day at the university when one turns from an applicant who has passed entrance exams into a first-year student? I did it! I entered, I got into the university! A solemn ceremony in front of the university building and serious people making speeches. Hey, lad, do you happen to know who they are? Who? The rector, vice-rectors, deans, subdeans … and what about those ladies and gentlemen? Heads of departments and senior lectures? Okay. Some of them must be professors, some – associate or assistant professors, but, of course, all of them have high academic degrees. And where are our lecturers and tutors? Oh, how nice …
The monitors hang out student membership cards, student record books and library cards – one feels like a real person. First celebrations and then days of hard work. So many classes, so many new subjects to put on the timetable! The curriculum seems to be developed especially for geniuses. Lectures, seminars and tutorials. Home preparations; a real avalanche of homework.
If one cannot cope with the work load of university he or she immediately starts lagging behind. It is easier to keep pace with the programme than to catch up with it later. Everyone tries hard to be, or at least, to look diligent. First tests and examination sessions. The first successes and first failures: “I have passed!” or “He has not given me a pass!” Tears and smiles. And a long-awaited vacation.
The merry-go-round runs faster. Assignments, synopses, tests, papers. Checking up and marking of problem solving. “Professor, I have never played truant, I had a good excuse for missing classes”. Works handed in and handed out. Reading up for exams. “No, professor, I have never cheated – no cribs. I just crammed.
Junior students become senior. Still all of them are one family – undergraduates. Students’ parties in the students’ clubs. Meeting people and parting with people. You know, Nora is going to be expelled and Dick is going to graduate with honours. Yearly essays, graduation dissertations, finals …
What? A mathematician’s certificate? You mean, I’ve got a degree in Mathematics? I am happy! It is over … Is it over? Oh, no …M
A postgraduate course, a thesis, an oral, and a degree in Physics and Mathematics (PhD). The first of September. Where are students of the faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics. Is it the Department of Geometry? Oh, How nice …
¹ 5. My University Studies
It had been my dream in high school to study at St Petersburg University. My dream has come true, good luck! I was enrolled the first-year student of the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics. I have managed to cope with the entrance examinations requirements in all exam subjects. The competition was very tough. Now I am a “freshman” at the Department. Many school leavers hope to enter St Petersburg University but only the best out of the best applicants with good training and thorough knowledge are lucky to be enrolled.
The academic year is divided into two terms, each term (semester) ends with the winter and spring exams sessions, when the students must takeand pass credit test and examinations on the subjects studied during the term. We have been studying modern maths and other subjects since September. Our curriculum involves English classes as well. The attendance of lectures and seminars is obligatory.
I am not a St Petersburg dweller and I am living in the students’ hostel. Some of my groupmates share the room with me. Even at the busiest time – when the examinations are going on – the students get together and enjoy themselves. They arrange amateur performances. All of them do sports and we can choose the sports we like most. As far as I am concerned (as for me), my favourite sports are swimming and football.
When I came to St Petersburg, I knew very little of the city. My new University groupmates and friends are showing me the city every weekend. We are fond of walking about St Petersburg, sightseeing, admiring its architecture and ancient monuments. Sometimes we go to the cinema and theatre, to museums and exhibitions and afterwards discuss what we have seen. I have already seen a lot of famous sites in St Petersburg myself, and they have made a deep impression on me.
Of course, we meet with great difficulties in our studies owing to the difference between high school maths and University modern generalized and abstract pure maths theories. We should read scientific literature and spend a lot of time in the library and the labs. We are always willing to help each other cope with troubles. We often stay after classes and lectures, explaining to someone the most complicated problems of maths and other subjects, e.g. English grammar. I try to do my best to enlarge my English vocabulary to understand math texts in English. Besides, we are making oral and written abstracts of the English texts and it is a very difficult home assignment for me so far.
¹ 6. My Future Profession:Read the text. Describe your future profession and the job you are willing to get upon graduation.
When a person leaves high school, he understands that the time to choose his future profession has come. It is not an easy task to make the right choice of future profession and a job at once. Leaving school is the beginning of the independent life, the start of a more serious examination of a man’s abilities and character. As a rule, it is difficult for many school leavers to give a definite and right answer straight away.
As for me (as far as I am concerned) I am a “would be” mathematician – a great piece of luck! This year I have managed to cope with and passed entrance competitive exams successfully and now I am a “freshman” (a first-year student) of St Petersburg University, the faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics – world-famous for its high reputation and image. It aims at giving students the top level education and to enable them to carry on scientific research work. After completing a course of five years our Department graduates can continue their studies and research and defend their thesis (dissertation) to get a scientific degree in both pure and applied fields of modern maths.
I have always been interested in maths. In high school my favourite subject was Algebra. I am fond of solving algebraic equations, but it was elementary school algebra. This is not the case with university algebra. To begin with, Algebra is a multifield subject. Modern abstract algebra deals with not only equations and trivial problems but with algebraic structures such as “groups”, “fields”, “rings”, etc. and comprises new divisions of algebra, e.g., linear algebra, Lie groups, Boolean algebra, homological algebra, vector algebra, matrix algebra and many more. Now I am a first-term (semester) student and study the fundamentals of the calculus.
I haven’t made up my mind yet to choose a field of maths to specialize in. I am going to make my final decision when I am the fifth-year student busy writing my research diploma project and consulting my scientific supervisor. It is equally too early to choose one of the hundreds of jobs to which I might be better suited upon graduation. It is for the future to decide whether it would be school, institute, government or business employment.
At present, I would like to be a teacher of maths. To my mind, it is a very noble profession. It is very difficult, indeed, to become a good teacher of maths. Undoubtedly, you should know the subject you teach perfectly, you should be well-educated and broad-minded. An ignorant teacher teaches ignorance, a fearful teacher teaches fear, a bored teacher teaches boredom. But a good teacher (tutor, educator) develops in his students the burning desire of mastering all branches of modern maths, its essence, influence, wide-range, and beauty.
Mathematicians claim that “maths is art for art’s sake”. It is sophisticated and requires good training. In our age maths has attained its wide scope and extraordinary applicability in sciences and engineering. That is why there is radical transformation in mentality of most mathematicians – today’s problems and demands in applied sciences, economics and industry compel many “pure math experts” (i.e., theoreticians) to deal with new goals and engineering problems. All our Department graduates are sure to get jobs they are willing to have. I hope the same might hold true for me as well.
¹ 7. Activities:
1. Say a few words about your university: say what it is called, speak about its faculties/ departments and their specializations.
2. What do you think of the first months at the university? Would you compare university life with a merry-go-round or with something else?
3. Speak in class what you feel when:
you get a bad mark; you fall (lag) behind the group; you fail (in) an examination; you read up for an examination late at night, you miss classes; you come late to classes; you keep up with the rest of the group; you catch up with the rest; you have to retake an examination; you spend sleepless nights over a load of books; you look up every word in your dictionary when reading an English book; you are not prepared for the class; the telephone rings while you are doing your homework; your test is well-received; another student cheats at an examination or test.
Patterns:I feel like a failure when I fall behind the group. I feel pleased/ confused/bored, etc. when I catch up with the rest.
4. The curriculum at the faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics consists of several subjects which all students must study. Make a list of these subjects. In class speak about your favourites and the ones you dislike. Explain to your partners why you enjoy or don’t enjoy them. (Say what is your timetable on Monday, Tuesday, etc. Say what subjects you do (study) in the (first) year.