Wondering what it’s really like to study maths? In the prevailing style of every media outlet, I thought I’d share a few nuggets of knowledge about what it’s like to be a maths student.
1. You are expected to be everyone’s calculator as soon as you need to split a bill. (Cue you getting out your phone calculator because your mental arithmetic is shockingly bad).
2. Everyone who finds out you do maths assumes you are a genius, and then tells you about how much they hated maths at school. Thanks.
3. Everyone else just asks if you’re planning to be a teacher. Umm, no. Mathematicians do other stuff too, y’know.
4. Being a female scientist forces you to be a feminist. Somewhere between convincing people you know that girls are good at maths too, and getting used to not seeing many women around the department, female STEM students are experts at deflecting sexism.
5. You know that Maths Society actually isn’t people sitting around doing maths for fun. Much to everyones’ surprise we do normal things, like Pub Golf, and socialising(!).
6. We laugh in the face of coursework based subjects. Mid-term deadline? Poor you. (Don’t remind us about this though when you have no exams and we have about 20 in 2 weeks.)
7. You have an amazingly good repertoire of greek letters. Someone once made the mistake of assuming I did things with numbers in my Maths degree – no one has ever been more wrong, but we can do amazing things with several different alphabets.
8. There is no limit to the awful maths jokes.
9. We get surprisingly attached to our favourite subject, despite the fact we all do maths (and god knows we need to stick together in these divided times). Similar to the rivalry between practical and theoretical physicists, never get into an argument about whether statistics or pure maths is the better discipline.
10. You become a life-long maths advocate. Sure, you may not go into maths after you graduate, but you’ll join a growing group of people trying to convince everyone that maths isn’t evil, and that it actually powers most of life as we know it… We’ll get there one day.
I’ll leave you with this great quote (which kind of explains all the people that think we’re either crazy or geniuses, or both)
“It is magic until you understand it, and it is mathematics thereafter” – Bharati Krishna