As of this afternoon, I have three problem sets and two term papers remaining in this semester. Once these five items are complete I will be finished with the course requirements for the physics PhD. (I’ll also earn my MA in physics at the end of this semester, but this is only significant insofar as I will have the credentials to teach high school physics.) The next four years or so will be devoted to research for the dissertation.
In principle, not having to take courses means I should have more time on my hands. Realistically, of course, all this extra time could get sucked up immediately by my research. I should be able to get away with scheduling some of my extra time outside of Birge (the physics building I live in), so I’ve been mentally throwing some ideas around.
- I’ve wanted for years to take a foreign language that I can actually speak to people in, but have never had the time. (As most of you will recall, my foreign language in high school was Latin. Very interesting and fun, but there aren’t too many people who speak it these days.) Lately I’ve been leaning towards Mandarin. It’s sufficiently different in structure from Western languages that I expect it to be intellectually very interesting, and ideally by allowing me to structure my thoughts differently it should give me a new perspective in some sense. Plus I think the writing is very beautiful. (I’d still like to learn Japanese at some point, and that may still win out.) So, one way to fill the time that I used to spend taking courses is… to take more courses. I won’t have to do any integrals though, and languages must be easy to learn, because even small children can speak them, right?
- I’d like to take up martial arts again. Probably karate, because it was fun when I was doing it before. However, UC Berkeley has several to choose from. Any recommendations? (Taekwondo is right out, by the way.)
- I was serious when I mentioned ballroom dancing in this space last month. If I can find a beginner-level class, it could probably be fun. Despite certain self-deprecating remarks I’ve made in the past, if I can do DDR or karate, I can do this.
- I should really try to see more of San Francisco while I’m here. I won’t be this close to the cultural center of the western United States forever, after all.
If I don’t make a real effort to get myself out and do stuff like this, though, I’ll spend the next four years playing video games when I’m not in lab. So we’ll have to see whether I really want to do these things. Any other suggestions for stuff I should try once I throw off the burden of problem sets forever? Post a comment!