Friday, September 22, 2006

USC - University of Severe Courseload?

It was not exactly an easy thing to get into USC, I mean it took time and alot of effort. I went to London to take exams, the GRE and TOEFL. I had to fill out long lists of forms, write several "statements of purpose"s, get the right recommendations from my professors. I had to apply for an US VISA, pay several hundreds of dollars and then pick my words carefully in several interviews. After we arrived it continued, we had to find a place to live, lend money, buy a car, get a social security number, californian ID, etc. But now when I've got almost everything in place, I can't help asking myself: Why the hell did I come here? The reason is that all of my classes here require a tremendous amount of work, unlike most of the classes I took in Denmark. For example, I have an algorithms class which started with an examination or a quiz on the prerequisits, which you had to pass to be able to take the class. This quiz also weighed 5% of the final grade. Each week we also get tough homework on which we must answer more than 45% correct in order to pass the class. And the funny thing is, as a PhD student, you're not allowed to get anything below a B, or you'll be kicked out of the program, let alone flunk a class. Actually that's not funny at all.. I mean, the workload here is much much greater than what one is used to in good ol' Denmark. For example some PhD students here at my institute actually have matrices to sleep on in their offices. This way they can save time by not having to go home at night!!! In my opinion that's just insane! I, hope I'll never have to resort to that... besides Dorte would probably kill me if I would.

Anyways I just wanted to get this out of the system.. Well I better go do some work again, I have three midterms coming up soon, all of which I'll have to pass in order to stay in the PhD program....



Anders Norgaard said...

Hi Bjarni,

Ah, I finally got your blog added to my GoogleReader. And I can see that you are a very productive blogger. Yay!

See you

PS Sounds pretty tough that the PhD students sleep on matrices
- must be maths students ;)

Bjarni said...

Nope they're Computational Biology PhD students. There are approximately 35-40 PhD students in the Computational Biology program! It's huge compared to BINF.

Anders Norgaard said...

That is huge. What's the main research areas? Does comp bio have an updated homepage (not

Bjarni said...

No sorry, it's really embarrasing that their homepage isn't updated. But I also know they are looking for a system administrator now. They are doing research in several areas. Their main strength probably lies in population genetics.

Bjarni said...

You can also check out for more info.

Pravir said...

Hi Bjarni,

could you please get back to me with your contact info.
email me or cal me, you've my 408 number

we met Monday 01/15th near USC - Trojan Terrace