Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reading Course FTW!

This semester, I am doing a reading course in probability & measure (using Billingsley). It's the first time I've ever done a reading course or any kind of independent study (other than my grant, but that was very different).

This was the first week of school, so last week I emailed the professor to ask when he'd like to meet or whatever, and we set a meeting for today. He gave me a section to read and some exercises to look at.

I've spent probably literally (not counting Internet-procrasting-time) 20 hours on that section and the exercises this week. The book is very dense for me and the exercises were difficult. I ended up with 10 typed pages of answers. I wasn't sure if he would want me to turn those in or just discuss them or say that I had done them or what.

So we met today. The scoop is that, whatever questions we don't discuss to his satisfaction in our meetings, he will have me turn in (I ended up turning in the whole set since I had it all stapled together, though we talked about most of the questions). The meeting went well - I was comfortable presenting answers on the board and discussing the material. He told me how to do the problem I hadn't managed to figure out, and the answer was really cool (really cool).

I've been exhausted all day. The first week of school is rough and I've been working hard. I'm the kind of tired where my head naturally goes slanty and I become slack-jawed. I'm the kind of tired where I think I must look really tired even from the outside.

But that meeting was so energizing, and I think this course is going to be great. I'm realizing that, actually, I think reading courses are super fun, way better than classes. Instead of sitting in class for 3 hours a week (which I hate even when it is informative), you get to work on your own with a book (which I love even when it is really hard). It's fun in the way that my summer of qual studying was fun.

Guess what? Reading and figuring out math on your own is more fun than a class. That's a really cheerful thought for me.

I'm still worried about my workload this semester. I have two core courses plus this reading course. But I feel motivated towards at least one of my courses, and of course towards the reading course, so I'm feeling pretty good right now. And I'm looking forward to doing more reading courses in the future, bigtime.

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