Piling Higher and Deeper (PHD) at Surrey

A Chinese student's life as a PhD candidate at Surrey

我们的圣诞集市 | Winterfest at Surrey

This post is written in both Chinese and English.

圣诞集市一角 | A corner at Winterfest

 

圣诞节真的快要到了。在 12 月 14 日星期三,萨里大学在吉尔福德大教堂门前举办了今年的圣诞集市。今天我们就来聊聊它。

所谓集市就一定会有摊位。今年的圣诞集市有 20 个左右的摊位出售各种各样的物品,从手工香皂到纯棉睡衣。现场还提供免费的脸上油彩绘画、雪中拍照机会,以及由学生乐团、兽医学院合唱队、音乐剧社团等团体进行的现场音乐表演。当然,热红酒和百果馅饼这样的传统圣诞食物也是必不可少的。我自己也第一次尝试了网络直播,向国内直播了圣诞集市现场的情况,至今已经有数百的观看量了。

实际上我在国内的时候并不怎么庆祝圣诞节。但是在英国生活了三年多之后,圣诞节对我来说也变成了一个重要的日子。这不仅仅是个节日,而是一年结束时的一段特殊的时期,家人朋友聚在一起,感受平和的圣诞气氛,回想过去的一年所取得的成就,展望一下即将到来的新年。

我很喜欢参加圣诞集市。去年圣诞节我是在北欧度过的,我去了赫尔辛基的圣诞集市(离圣诞老人家更近);而今年我决定留在英国过圣诞。我发现无论在什么地方,人们享受圣诞氛围的感觉都是相似的,就像我们的农历新年一样。虽然与西方有着不同的文化背景,但是中国家庭也会聚在一起,享受相似的心情。

当我们在庆祝圣诞的时候,仍有很多人在忍受战争与冲突。在萨里大学圣诞集市期间,访客们共向英国红十字会叙利亚救援行动捐款 £1500。希望这能给不幸的人们带来一些希望。

最后,祝大家圣诞快乐!

附:查看 2016 圣诞集市照片请戳这里,观看我的直播回放请戳这里这里

 

Christmas is literally around the corner. On Wednesday 14th December, the University of Surrey held Winterfest in front of Guildford Cathedral, and it is the topic of this post.

There were ~20 stalls offering various items, from lovely handmade soap to cotton pyjamas. Other activities include free face painting, snowy photo opportunities and live music by the University’s Big Band, Vet School Choir and Musical Theatre Society. Of course, mulled wine and mince pies were also provided. Personally I also tried my first ever live streaming to China, which has attracted hundreds of viewers so far.

Actually I am not a religious person, and I didn’t really celebrate Christmas when I was in China. But after living in the UK for over three years, it feels like Christmas has become an important date to me as well. It’s more than just a festival; it’s a special period of time at the end of year when you can settle down in the peaceful Christmas atmosphere, gathering with your friends or family, reviewing your achievements during the last 12 months and looking forward to the upcoming year.

I do enjoy attending Winterfest. Last year I spent my Christmas in Scandinavia and went to the Winterfest at Helsinki, where was quite near to Santa’s home; this year I decided to stay in the UK and went to the Winterfest by our uni. Wherever the place, people are always enjoying the Christmas spiritual, warm and peace; which reminds me of Chinese New Year, when Chinese families sharing a similar mood in spite of the different culture background.

When we are enjoying the festival atmosphere, there are still a lot of people suffering wars and chaos. During our Winterfest, visitors denoted £1500 to the Syria Crisis Appeal, British Red Cross. Hopefully it will help bring some positive news to the unfortunate people.

Lastly, I wish you all a merry Christmas!

 

Xin

 

PS: For photos of Winterfest 2016, please click here. If you want to see the replay of my streaming (in Chinese), please click here and here.

在萨里大学读工科硕士研究生是种怎样的体验 | What it is like to be a postgraduate engineering student at the University of Surrey

This post is written in both Chinese and English.

Assignments

做作业的时候 | Doing assignments

 

上周我和大家分享了我自己作为萨里大学博士研究生的日常,与此同时我也知道几乎在任何一所大学里硕士研究生的数量都要远大于博士研究生的数量。有许多同学也想知道在萨里大学读硕士是种怎样的体验。刚好,我的硕士学位也是在萨里大学取得的,所以我也能多少回答一下有关硕士生活的问题。今天我就和大家一起分享一下我在萨里大学读工科硕士研究生的体验。

一点点背景知识:我的硕士专业是通信网络与软件,隶属于工程及物理学院电子工程系(现在称电子电气工程系)。

  1. 上课、实验、作业

作为萨里大学的硕士研究生,你在硕士学习期间需要完成 8 门课程的学习(每学期 4 门)。每学期 11 周教学周,很有可能你每周都会接触到全部4门课的内容(上课或实验)。时间非常紧张,但你会有充足的时间和老师们交流。老师们都很热心,这点不用担心。

关于实验我不想说得太多,因为不同专业所需要的设备也不同,而我只熟悉电子工程学生会用到的设备。但是有一点是确定的:学校可以提供所有你学习需要用到的设备。在实验课期间现场也会有一名或多名助教指导帮助。(如果你学通信相关的课程的话我可能也会成为你的助教。)如果您想在课外时间使用实验室的话可以向老师申请,同时有一些实验室也是一直开放的。

上完课、做完实验后,我们现在来说说作业。作为工科学生,你的作业应该不仅仅是写论文,有些时候你还需要独立或以小组形式完成作业项目,项目完成后你还需要写出报告或作演讲。这些项目通常都与实际工作中遇到的问题类似,能全面锻炼能力。

  1. 考试

作为学生,考试已经成了生活的一部分。我知道有的时候考试真的很难,但还是要积极面对。

期末考试通常在 1 月和 6 月进行,同时学期中可能还会有随堂小测验。根据老师的安排,在期末考试前有些课程会安排复习课。考试对工科学生和其他专业学生没什么明显区别。我相信你们不会这么做,但是作弊是觉得不允许的。想都不要想。

  1. 毕业论文

经过两个学期的学习(大概 9 个月左右),剩下的 3 个月时间就是用来完成毕业论文的。工科学生的毕业论文有点像是毕业设计的报告,而毕业设计是从第一学期末就开始做的。

在第二学期结束时还没有完全完成毕业设计的话也不用太过担心,这是很正常的,但是你需要尽快完成以便给写论文留出时间。顺便提醒一下:我强烈建议提前定制详细的时间规划,然后尽可能的按照规划完成任务。实际写论文的时间通常都要比想象的时间要长。

  1. 同学与社交

与商学院的同学们相比,工科学生的同学数量可能不是很多,但是同学构成会有很大的差异性。你将有很多机会与不同文化、不同背景的人一共工作,这种经历很特殊。

除了与同学交流以外,学校内还有许许多多的社团可以参与,你总能找到和你相同国籍或有着相似兴趣的人。如果真的找不到合适的社团,你还可以自己成立一个新的!比如我就与朋友们一同成立了 “萨里学联”。

  1. 学校提供的帮助

有问题?尽管说,学校会帮你解决。我们在校园内有诊所(治疗身体)、心理咨询中心(治疗心灵)、就业中心(帮助找工作)、宿舍服务(想住校外的话也可以找他们寻求建议)、国际学生支持团队(特别热心)、学生服务中心(任何问题都可以找他们)等等。你可以从学校获得全方位的支持与帮助。(顺便说一下:我们被 “泰晤士和星期日泰晤士报 2016 年好大学指南” 评为 “学生体验最好的大学”。)

今天的文章有点长,简单总结一下:作为一名工科学生,你在萨里大学在学到扎实的知识同时还能享受课外的生活。这是我的个人感觉,这样的经历也间接决定了我继续在萨里大学攻读博士学位。

如果有任何你感兴趣的问题我今天没有提到的话,换一个给我留言。希望未来在萨里大学看到大家!真心的!

 

Last week I shared a normal day of myself as a PhD student at Surrey. I do understand that there are far more masters students than PhD students in almost every university in the world, and there may be more people who want to know what it is like to be a masters student at Surrey. Fortunately, I got my MSc degree from Surrey as well, so I can answer the latter question as well. Today I’m gonna share my own experience as a master engineering student at Surrey.

Background information: my masters programme was MSc Communications Networks and Software, which was under the Department of Electronic Engineering (currently known as Electrical and Electronic Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

  1. Lectures, labs, assignments

As a masters student at Surrey, you are supposed to finish 8 modules during your study: 4 for each semester. There are 11 weeks in each semester, and it is highly likely you will have all the 4 modules (lectures and/or labs) every week. The time schedule is quite tight, but you get plenty of time to communicate with your lecturers. They are always willing to help you, that’s guaranteed.

For labs I don’t want to talk much about this, since different subjects require different facilities, and I am only familiar with what electronic engineering students need. One thing is for sure: the university can provide all the infrastructure you will need for your study. During lab time, there will be one or more demonstrators helping you. (If you are doing communication-related modules, I may be one of your demonstrators as well.) If you do need to use the labs outside normal teaching hours, simply ask your lecturers; some of the labs are always open to students.

After attending lectures and labs, now it’s time for assignments. For engineering students, your assignments may be more than essays; sometimes you need to finish a project individually or as a group, then you will be asked to produce a report or/and a presentation. The projects are usually more like the real tasks you would get in your future career, and they are certainly helpful for developing comprehensive abilities.

  1. Exams

As a student, exams are an essential part of your life. I know they could be tough sometimes, but you have to face it.

The final exams usually take place in January and June, while there may be quizzes throughout the semester. Revision lectures may be provided before the final exams, based on the lecturers’ arrangements. There is no significant difference in terms of exams between engineering students and students under other programmes. I know you will not do so, but cheating is strictly prohibited. Don’t ever try to think so.

  1. Dissertation

After two semester’s study (~9 months), the remaining three months are for you to finish your dissertation. The dissertation of an engineering student is somehow like a report for your graduation project, which you should start doing from late semester 1.

It’s very common not to have finished all the objectives in your project by the end of semester 2, but you should finish as soon as you can during the summer since you still need time for writing-up. By the way, please make a detailed time plan in advance and follow it as much as possible, the actual writing-up process always takes much longer than you imagine.

  1. Classmates and social life

Compared to masters students from the Business School, you may not have as many classmates as an engineering student; but there could be dramatic diversity. You will have a lot of opportunities to work with people from different culture and background, and it is quite a unique experience.

Besides interacting with your classmates, there are also a lot of societies in the uni. You can usually find someone with the same nationality, similar interest or something else. In the unlikely situation when you cannot find a suitable society, you can always start a new one! (For instance, many friends and I started a Chinese society called “CSSA”.)

  1. Support from the university

Got any problem? You name it, the uni will help you sort it out. We have a GP practice within the campus to help you with your physical health, a Centre for Wellbeing for your mental health, an Employability and Career Service to help you prepare for future career, an Accommodation Service that can provide help even if you decide to live off campus, multiple chaplains for your religious needs, an International Student Support team who are really helpful, a Student Service Centre for all general enquiries, etc. I am pretty confident to say you can always get comprehensive support from the uni. (By the way we are named “Best University for Student Experience” by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.)

This is a quite long post. To sum up, as a masters engineering student, you will learn solid knowledge while enjoying your life at Surrey. To be honest, I did, and it was also one of the reasons that I decided to stay here for several more years.

If there is anything you are interested in but I haven’t covered, please leave a comment. Hope to see you at Surrey sometime in the future!

 

Xin

博士生的日常 | A normal day of a PhD student

This post is written in both Chinese and English.

Xin Yang and His Desk

我和我凌乱的书桌 | My messy desk and me

 

“博士生每天的生活是什么样的?”这可能是我被问的最多的问题。在此我和乐意与大家分享我的日常(没有 deadline 要赶的时候)

  • 7:00 – 起床(我起的比其他学生稍早一点),洗澡然后准备早餐。吃饭的时候上网看看视频或新闻。
  • 9:00 – 离开家门去学校。我住得比较近,每天走路上学。
  • 9:20 – 抵达 5GIC(我的实验室)。冲杯咖啡或泡杯茶、架设实验器材(把笔记本连上显示器)、查看邮箱(和网页)。
  • 10:00 – 开始工作。看看最近世界上的研究进展,想想有什么我可以改进的(通常想不到)。
  • 12:00 – 和国内的家人通个电话或视频。然后和朋友们一起吃午餐,聊聊天。
  • 13:30 – 回来继续工作。每周我都会和导师开会讨论一下最近进展和接下来的计划。
  • 17:30 – 回家。

你可能已经注意到我没提到 “上课” 的事情——因为英国的博士研究生是不需要上课的!当然如果您感兴趣也可以和老师沟通去旁听,平时也经常会有其他学校、科研机构和各个企业的访客来做报告,博士生都可以参与。除此之外,萨里大学还为博士研究生提供全面的科研帮助,项目叫做 “Research Development Programme”。详细信息可在这里查到:http://www.surrey.ac.uk/library/research/workshops/full_list_of_pgr_workshops.htm

除了 “学习”,博士学生也有 “教学” 的机会。我曾为两门硕士课程做过助教。用自己的知识与经验去启发他人,这种感觉很好。当学生们顺利完成学业的时候你也会获得满满的成就感。

  • “你周末都做什么?”

周末可以做的事情很多。比如,我可以去周边游玩,可以去镇上或伦敦去购物;我甚至可以去法国或爱尔兰过个周末(我真的这么做过),我们离希思罗和盖特维克机场太近了。只要你想,总能找到事情做。

  • “你的同事都来自哪里?”

在英国做博士生通常意味着你要在一个国际化的环境里工作,在萨里大学更是这样。我的同事来自世界各地。不同的文化在同一个地方融合,这种感觉很有趣。

  • “你介绍的是 ‘日常’。不太常规的一天又是什么样的呢?”

“不太常规” 的日子通常是赶论或演讲 deadline 的时候。想象一下你在期末准备考试的场景,基本和那差不多——努力工作吧!

 

“What does a PhD student’s life look like?” This must be one of the most common questions I have received so far. I am glad to share a normal day of myself with you guys. (By “normal” I mean some weekday when there is no deadline chasing me.)

  • 7:00 – Get out of the bed (yes I get up quite early, comparing to “normal” students). Take a shower and then prepare breakfast. Watch clips on YouTube or read news while having breakfast.
  • 9:00 – Leave home. I live quite near to the campus, so I walk to the uni everyday.
  • 9:20 – Arrive at 5GIC (the place I’m based in). Make a tea or coffee, set up my research infrastructures (i.e. connect my laptop to the external display), check emails (and browse websites).
  • 10:00 – Start to work (finally!). Read recent papers, and think if there is anything I can improve to help my own PhD progress (normally negative).
  • 12:00 – Make a video chat or phone call to my family in China. Then have lunch and chat with my friends.
  • 13:30 – Come back to work. Once a week or so I will also have a meeting with my supervisor to discuss my recent progress and following work plan.
  • 17:30 – Leave for home.

Have you noticed that there is no “class” in my daily routine? Yes, as a PhD student in the UK, there is no compulsory module for you to attend. Instead, there are quite a few lectures and seminars presented by guests from other institutes and industry that you can involve in. In addition, the University of Surrey also provides a comprehensive support to postgraduate research students, called Research Development Programme. The full list of the provided workshops can be found here: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/library/research/workshops/full_list_of_pgr_workshops.htm

Besides “learning”, PhD students could also get the opportunity for “teaching”. I have worked as the demonstrator (teaching assistant) for two MSc level modules. It is really amazing to see how my own experience and knowledge can inspire others. You will also feel a sense of accomplishment when your students finish their work successfully.

  • “What do you do during the weekends?”

There are quite a lot of things I can do during the weekends. For instance, I can take a short trip in nearby area, go shopping in the town centre or London; I can even travel to France or Ireland for weekends since we are so close to Heathrow and Gatwick airports (I did so once!). You can always find something to do, as long as you want to.

  • “Where do your colleagues come from?”

To be a PhD student in the UK usually means you will work in an international environment, especially when you study at Surrey. My colleagues are literally from all over the globe. It is quite interesting to experience how different cultures are mixed in the same place.

  • “What you have described is a “normal” day. What about an abnormal day?”

An “abnormal” day usually means you have a deadline for paper or presentation in the near future. Just imagine what you will do during the revision for final exams, it’s pretty much the same – keep working until finished!

Hello world

This post is written in both Chinese and English.

Xin Yang

大家好!欢迎阅读我的第一篇萨里博客!

我叫杨昕,现在在萨里大学攻读电子工程专业博士学位,同时也是萨里大学的一名中国学生大使。我来自哈尔滨,那里冬天很美(也很冷),如果有机会的话强烈建议你去看看。

我在 2013 年来到萨里大学攻读硕士学位,在完成硕士学位后又决定继续攻读博士学位。可能与大家通常印象中的博士生活不同,我觉得我的博士生活充实又有趣。在未来的文章中我会详细介绍在萨里大学攻读博士是一种怎样的体验,所以别忘了关注我未来的博客更新!

我在本硕博期间一直就读的是工程类专业,如果你也是一名工程类学生或者正在考虑攻读工程类专业,欢迎与我交流。话题不仅限于博士相关的内容。我很乐意向大家介绍我自己在萨里大学攻读工程类专业的体验,真的很棒。

今天的内容基本就到这里了,未来我将与大家分享更多的体验与经历。如果你对某个问题特别感兴趣,也欢迎在下方(或在右方?)给我留言。

精彩在这里发生。我们下期见!

 

Greetings to whoever reading this post!

I am Xin, currently a 2nd year PhD Electronic Engineering student and a Chinese Student Ambassador at the University of Surrey. I originally came from Harbin, China, where is incredibly beautiful (and extremely cold) in winter. It locates in the Northeast China; just in case you are planning to pay a visit and don’t know where it is yet.

I came to Surrey in 2013 to pursue my MSc degree. After finishing MSc, I decided to continue to take PhD study; and I’m glad I did. PhD life is rather unique and enjoyable. Such description is quite contradictory to the stereotype, isn’t it? I will explain more in following posts to introduce what the PhD life really looks like at Surrey, so please keep an eye on my future updates.

Oh right, please don’t forget I am also an engineering student. If you are an engineering student or are considering to undertake an engineering degree and would like to talk with me, please don’t hesitate to do so; the topic does not have to be PhD-related. I am more than happy to talk about my experience as an engineering student at Surrey, which is amazing for sure.

This is pretty much for today’s post. I can’t wait to share more with you in future posts. If there is anything you are particularly interested in, please just leave a comment below. (or in the right?)

Wonderful things happen here. Talk to you soon!

 

Xin

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