Does the physics courses meet my expectations? How does the curriculum look like after the first year? Am I unsuitable if I do not pass the first-year exam in the first attempt? Do I have to sacrifice leisure time in order to achieve the goals required? These and similar questions are asked by many students at the end of their first semester at the ETH. After spending some weeks in lectures and exercise lessons, they are unsettled and frequently question their choice of studying physics.
This year's special-topic event took place on 13 December. Almost 40 participants followed the invitation, which went to all Bachelor students of physics in November. After a brief introduction by Daniel Köchli (Student Services), Andreas Vaterlaus moderated by the presentations of Daniel Braitsch (MSc Theoretical Physics) and Ann-Katrin Thamm (MSc Solid-State Physics). Both speakers offered very personal perspectives and talked about the highlights and difficulties they encountered during their own studies at ETH. In interesting talks they also stressed the close link between studies and research. Further topics concerned the planning for the future, doctorate or business/industry, as well as a retrospective on what the studies meant for their personal development.
In addition to the two presentations, the following aperitif is an important element of the event. Here, the speakers are available for questions and assessments; also this year the participants again made ample use of this opportunity. Only after the rich buffet was completely cleared, the conversations gradually faded.
The event was originally introduced by Professor Hans Rudolf Ott (now emeritus) at the Department of Physics. Since 2010, Professor Andreas Vaterlaus has been organizing the event, which always takes place in December, together with the Student Services of ETH Zurich.