My friends back home were amazed when I said I got to work in a research grade lab in just my third year

Aspen Fenzl
Aspen Fenzl
Undergraduate student
Theoretical Physics MPhys
Aspen came from the USA to study physics here in Sheffield, and has found our Theoretical Physics course to be the perfect blend of physics, maths (and a little programming).

What made you want to study Theoretical Physics?

I actually didn't know it was Theoretical Physics I wanted to do, I initially came to Sheffield with the intention of doing Astrophysics. During our very first lecture, they walked us through the differences in programmes and how things would progress in following years. It was then I realised I wanted to study Theoretical Physics because I wanted to take higher level math classes and spend more time on understanding concepts instead of just seeing them in the lab. 

What made you decide to come to the University of Sheffield?

After I decided I wanted to study in the UK, I flew over with my parents and went to open days across the whole country. There's not one specific reason I chose Sheffield, I just knew I'd love it here. I found everyone so welcoming, and the physics professors were just as passionate about their work as I was to learn.

How have you found the experience of coming from the USA to study in the UK?

It's a much different university experience than the one I'd get in the US, but I'm so glad I chose to come here. There was a lot to get used to at first, since I was pretty unfamiliar with the UK school system. Other than that, I've really enjoyed how much freedom and specialisation we get with our studies compared to the US. My friends back home were amazed when I said I got to work in a research-grade Quantum Information Lab in just my third year!

What have you enjoyed most about your course so far?

The thing I've enjoyed the most about my course so far is seeing how all the modules fit together. I love how clearly each topic is integrated with the others, so you're never left wondering what the point of doing something is. It makes it so much easier to stay motivated to study when you know exactly why you need to know something.

What skills have you developed during your course?

Before starting my course, I never thought I would learn to code. I've learned to work in Python, MATLAB, and SAGE so far, and although it was a bit difficult at first I quickly understood the value of those skills. There's lots of other skills I've randomly picked up too, such as writing professional reports in LaTeX, knowing how to research exactly what I'm looking for, and understanding how to approach a topic I'm struggling with.

What would you say to a student thinking about studying Theoretical Physics at Sheffield?

If you're considering studying Theoretical Physics at Sheffield, seriously just do it. It's the perfect blend of physics and math (and a little programming) that gives you the skills you need to follow practically any career path. The professors are incredible and will do everything they can to help you learn while actually enjoying the process. Throughout my time studying Theoretical Physics here, I've fallen in love with the subject all over again.

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