Physics teacher conquers Big Data in Scotland

Due to the opportunities and challenges that Big Data is able to solve and create, there are a lot of talk and speculation around this area. But in one, all sources are in agreement: the big data specialist is the profession of the future. Lisa, a student at the University of the West of Scotland Scottish University , shared her story: how she came to this area, what she studies as part of her master's program and what is interesting about studying in Scotland.


- Lisa, how did you start your journey to a Scottish university and why did you choose this faculty?

- Having studied physics at a Moscow university and worked as a teacher in a regular Russian school for a year, I decided that the knowledge and experience I had gained so far was not enough for life. Moreover, I was always disturbed by the fact that not everything I studied and there are many areas in which I am full zero. The area that has always attracted me with its complexity and “incomprehensibility” was programming.

During the year of teaching at school, in my free time, I began to slowly master the Python programming language, and also began to get involved in artificial intelligence, big data, and deep learning. How to make the robot think and perform the simplest tasks - isn’t it fun? It seemed to me then that the new technological era was about to come on our heels, but (there’s a spoiler!) Actually not.

Studying abroad is a dream from school. At Moscow State University, at the Faculty of Physics, it was quite difficult to go abroad to exchange at least for the trimester or even impossible. For 4 years of study there, I have not heard of such cases. Learning a language is also a dream. As you can see, I'm a pretty dreamy person. Therefore, from all countries, I dismissed those in which English is not native, or rather left only the UK, the States and Canada.

The search for information on the Internet and the awareness of the subsequent difficulty in obtaining an American visa, the cost of master's programs led me to some kind of error (and a scholarship to study for Russian citizens is quite difficult to get in America, as it seemed to me, from the guys’s articles and on the official websites). There was Great Britain, London - a rather expensive city, but still I wanted some kind of independence and independence. In Scotland, life is much cheaper, and the programs are not inferior to English. My university has campuses in Scotland and in England.

- And here you are in the city of Paisley at the University of the West of Scotland ... What does your regular school day look like?

- Surprised, but we learn only 3 times a week, for a maximum of 4 hours. Approximately this goes like this (do not forget, I'm a programmer after all, in other specialties everything is different):

10 am - 12 am - the first lecture, for example, Data Mining and Visualization.

Just a lecture on child pornography. Yes, the British are very fond of discussing issues that resonate in society, not being ashamed.

12 am - 1 pm - lunch time. Alternatively, you can go to the university canteen - eat a sandwich or some hot super-duper spicy Indian dish (Indians and Pakistanis left a huge imprint on the national dishes of Scotland, one of them is chicken tikka masala - with this one word my stomach trembles how much this is a spaaaishi dish). Well, or to run home, which I did, is cheaper and more useful. Fortunately, the university dormitory stands on the perimeter of the educational campus. My journey to the house takes 1-2 minutes, depending on how tired the lecture is.

In each laboratory there are two monitors at the desktop, on one you open the task, on the second you program.

1 pm - 3pm - we sit in the laboratory and do some kind of task, a small tutorial is always attached, for example, a couple of examples and an explanation of how to use a neural network in the programming language R, and then this task itself. We are given a maximum week to send the assignment. That is, we understand the laboratory with the tutorial, ask if necessary questions to the assistant lecturers, and then, if we do not have time to start or complete the task, take it to our house and finish it ourselves. As a rule, at a lecture we listen to the introductory part, for which, for example, we need a neural network, we already apply our skills in the laboratory.

- And are there any particularities in learning exactly in your specialty? Do you have group projects?

- Usually, Scotland masters do not pass exams, but for some reason this rule did not apply to experts on big data. And we had to pass two exams in Data Mining and Visualization, as well as in Artificial Intelligence. Basically, we report just 2-3 people in group projects.

Passed exams at the basketball stadium.

The most interesting project in which I managed to participate is the creation of a mobile application, as the final project on the subject of Mobile Networks and Smartphone Application. Having no experience in the Java programming language, as well as any experience working in a team, I assembled a group of 2 excellent programmers (they had a bunch of completed projects behind them) and me. I acted not only as a designer (creating a logo, a general concept), but also as a developer by programming (thanks to Google and YouTube) a couple of cool fittings. This project was not only about how to program, he also taught us how to work in a team and listen to each of its members. After all, only weeks 2 we thought what to start doing, each time encountering all kinds of bugs.

- Great experience! The ability to work in a team is a big plus for a future career. But let's go back to the very beginning ... Was it difficult for you to enter a university? What was required of you at all?

- It was necessary to pass one exam - IELTS, at least - 6.0 for each item. Ever since the previous university, in my case from the physics department, take 2 recommendations from teachers and answer in writing for the university 5 questions (like “Why do you want to study at our university”, “Why Scotland?” ..). Having received an offer from the university, you need to answer it and pay a deposit, then they send CAS - a piece of paper with which you can go to the British Embassy to make a student visa.

Then you can search for scholarships and funds that can pay for some of the training or all of the training (although this is probably more difficult), and send applications. On the page of each fund or organization there is all the information and deadlines. In this case, the principle "the more the better." One organization will refuse, another will agree. Google will help in the search (something like “scottish scholarship for international students”). But then again, it’s better to do it in advance. And yes, there are almost no age restrictions.

My university.

- These 2 paragraphs seem very easy, but they hide a lot of painstaking work! You're doing fine! Tell a little about the place where you live now.

- I live in a student dormitory. The hostel itself is located along the perimeter of the university campus, so it takes 1 to 5 minutes to reach any classroom or laboratory. The hostel is an apartment with two rooms, a shared toilet and a kitchen. The rooms are large and quite spacious with a bed, a table, bedside tables, chairs and a wardrobe (I even had my own mini-room under the dressing room - it was just lucky).

My room.

The kitchen is also spacious with a table, chairs, a large kitchen surface and a sofa. By the way, on which my neighbor’s friends often stayed for 3-4 days, a kind of Scottish friendship) Of course, it costs more if you look for apartments on the university campus rather than outside it, but then there will be a question with neighbors and electricity bills and water.

Photo of my hostel taken from the university building.

- What are the prospects after graduation? How do you see your way further?

- I remember when I entered the Faculty of Physics at the Moscow State University, the poster “The Best Faculty of the Best University of the Country” hung over the admissions committee, went around the corner to the admissions committee of the VMK (Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics), surprised, but there was about the same poster. On the websites of universities that are English, that of Scotland are almost the same: a quick job search, space salaries, etc.

I haven’t found a job yet, or rather I haven’t been searching, since I still have to defend my dissertation (we have three summer months for this, and the defense itself is in September. Last September I started my studies, the master's program lasts 1 year). I want to say that the prospects depend only on you and only in a small percentage of the chosen university. Finding a job, writing a dissertation, preparing for interviews, internships - these are my plans for the near future.

- Do you plan to return to Russia later?

- You know, probably studying abroad, gave me the most important thing - this is the feeling of home in all parts of our vast planet. And the second one is that I got into everything Russian and try to actively support and use Russian technologies and new products, including Telegram (@Scottish_pie), where I have my own channel about Scotland.

Being young and active, I want to see as many countries as possible and get as much experience as possible in communicating and working with foreigners. Their outlook and worldview change their attitude towards life. For myself, I noticed that I had become much kinder and not so categorical in communicating with people, I try not to “cut everyone under one comb”.

Do I plan to return to Russia? - Of course, my parents and friends are here, I can’t refuse Russia, in the country where my childhood was, my first love and a lot of funny situations.

- Well, then, I hope, see you :) You noticed behind yourself that you became kinder ... Did you feel any other changes in yourself after 9 months in another country?

- At the moment, it seems to me that some kind of spiritual channel has opened in me, or communication with the Indians (they are super friendly!) Has influenced me so much (chakras are all-business - oh, joke), or away from my family, where you are left to your own self, to be closed and dissatisfied with life - not at all comme il faut. Mom says (heh, where without her) that I became calmer and kinder, and more independent. I did not have high expectations for my personal development, as well as for an ultrafast job search - all this is still in a slow, but process. BUT this, of course, is a colossal experience to be alone in a foreign country and to overcome difficulties without which no undertaking can do) But this is already in another article :)

- Yes! Good luck with your dissertation and job search! We will wait for the continuation of the story.

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