Nadezhda Zubkova: “Gifted students, they are the same everywhere, but here they are stronger”

Nadezhda Zubkova completed her PhD program in information technology at McMaster University in 2011. In 2005 she graduated with honors from the Moscow State Highway University (MADI). After that, she worked in one of the IT companies. Has submitted documents to a number of Canadian universities for a magistracy. Received an offer from McMaster University to go straight to graduate school, bypassing the magistracy. Throughout her studies, she received a full scholarship covering tuition and living (approximately CAD 25,000 per year).

As for the university, it is very beautiful, clean, the teachers are extremely polite and delicate people. Especially the professor. In the first month, my professor had already sent me out on a scouting mission at an annual conference organized by IBM in Toronto. I got there myself, but he warned me that I could keep the checks, and then I would be reimbursed. At the seminar, I accidentally met the guys with whom I study, so we all drove back together with one of our professors in his car. They have a grant from IBM to develop software for the new IBM microprocessor for the PlayStation. Their development is 20% faster than native IBM development.

I concluded that universities are very active participants in research funded by large corporations. It is very nice! I managed to become a participant in this process. To be honest, in spite of my English, which I thought was good, there were some misunderstandings at first. Sometimes a lecture, as it seemed to me at the beginning, did not bring any benefit at all. Especially in mathematics, if the teacher suddenly has a strong French accent. Mathematics is a very important subject here. All the professors came from the mathematical school, and the attention to this subject is increased here. At least compared to my previous place of study in Russia. Increased so much that even those students who originally studied here also suffer. I would say that the average level of a student in Canada and a student in Russia is different, and not in Russia’s favor.

McMaster University Student Center on the left next to Mills Library to the right

Gifted students, they are the same everywhere, but on average they are stronger here. Studying is difficult at the pace, homework is endless, the semester is shorter by a whole month, you need to constantly be in good shape and not miss anything. It is better to give lectures in general before the lecture itself, while I figured it out, had already managed to fill myself up with minor imperfections. So “from session to session, students live happily” does not work here. Although the atmosphere at the university itself is extremely democratic: some especially tired students sleep right on the benches in the halls, although this is prohibited, I did not see them being chased away. They understand! .. Interestingly, every graduate student has a computer and a desk in the laboratory. You can come there at any time, even at night, because everyone was given a key to the building.

You can go to any lectures, seminars, listen to what is interesting. In my course, mostly students from China, Vietnam and the Arab countries studied: all are very smart. In the second semester, I took a comprehensive exam – this is an exam that all PhD students take, it includes, at my faculty, 3 areas of knowledge: computation theory (mathematics), applications (programming) and compilers, databases and other structures … It was necessary to pass the exam as soon as possible – here they do not drag out either with exams or with deductions. My professor recommended taking the first and second parts in May, the third – to postpone to the fall. In addition, in the first semester, I also had to write a scientific article.

To be honest, in the first month I was always dizzy from so much information, I didn’t know where to run and what to do, but I had to give up a lot in the name of science.

I rented a room. The boy, whom the coordinator introduced me to, helped me a lot with the device, we still communicate with him. It turned out that it is very difficult to start such an independent life, when you need to cook yourself and all the pots, plates and forks need to be bought separately. And the walls are bare: pictures and shelves also need to be taken somewhere, settled down, and cozier. Hamilton is not difficult without a car – there are buses in all major directions. It is also convenient that I lived in the center – it was always easy to get on the bus.

Of course, in a hurry, I did not always choose the best option at first: I could find it cheaper, maybe I would not live alone, but in general, all the years of my studies I was very pleased with how I live. To find something better, you need to start looking almost in March. Canadians are very friendly people, historically it so happened that they are more tolerant of emigrants here than anywhere else. Even English can be improved at the university, there are special classes for this.

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