Math in Europe is a program offered by the Faculty of Mathematics where students have the chance to study math abroad. Each spring term, two University of Waterloo mathematics professors take a small group of students to Europe. They teach three Waterloo mathematics courses generally taken by students during their 2A term. This past spring term, one of the CFM students Lily Zhang took the chance and studied math in Europe. Here is her story.
My name is Lily Zhang and I'm a 2B student enrolled in the Computing and Financial Management program. I went on an exchange to Europe in my 2A term in Spring 2018. I spent three months in Italy and France with 30 other Waterloo Math students, and we were offered three second-year Waterloo math courses throughout the term: STAT 230, MATH 235, MATH 237.
Academically, I found the courses to be just as challenging as first-year Waterloo math courses. An average week would be made of four full-day lectures starting at 9:00 AM and ending at 3:00 PM with an hour-long lunch break. Every Thursday would usually be a test/quiz day on the current week’s materials and the final mark mainly consisted of weekly tests and quizzes, midterms, and finals.
In terms of living, the most challenging factor was sharing common spaces with roommates. In Rome, I lived with eight other students in an apartment that had 4 rooms, 3 washrooms, and a kitchen. It was difficult to properly schedule washroom use and curfew times. We also did not have enough room to study as the dining room table only had enough space for 7 people. I resolved this issue by studying in the lecture buildings at night.
In France, we lived in the student residences of the University of Montpellier and had lectures there. We also started our fourth course: French. In France, the food was expensive, but our residences were better. We each had our own room with a fridge and a washroom, and we shared a common kitchen.
Our schedule allowed us to have three-day weekends for traveling. Sometimes, a general location would be determined, and the entire group would travel to a city, where we would be sent off to explore the city on our own. I went to the Vatican City in Italy and spent a whole day in the Vatican Museum, carefully studying those vivid paintings that I had spent hours reading about. We also traveled to Venice and Florence. During my three days in Venice, I rode water buses that traveled across the city, and one went all the way to two islands, Murano – the glass island, and Burano. Murano is an island that specializes in glassworks, producing souvenirs from mini animals to huge vases, and Burano is an island full of colourful houses.
The days went on with lectures and weekend trips, and soon I discovered that final exams were just around the corner. I still remember walking out of the residence, returning my keys at the reception desk, and dragging my luggage out of the building. I did not have time to look back as the tram to the train station had already arrived. People say that if you throw a coin in the Trevi fountain, you will return. I hope that’s true.