Physics and Astronomy
At a Glance
Hi there! My name is Tara and I'm finishing up my first year here at Western. I am currently a student in the Faculty of Sciences studying Physics and Astronomy.
WHY PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY?
I always loved maths and sciences and particularly found physics really interesting in grade 11 and 12. I particularly love how physics is a very visual and logic based form of science. Physics puts math and logic behind a lot of things we are already mostly aware of like gravity and magnetism, which I always found very interesting.
I specifically chose western because my love of physics was a relatively late revelation for me, I actually was focused on pursuing a business degree for most of high school. As a result I dropped all my other science courses, obviously apart from physics. However, this led me to look into university options where I could pursue both my interests.
The Ivey Business School at western has an amazing dual degree program that caught my eye because it would allow me to get both a bachelor’s of business and bachelor’s of science degree in 5 years. As such, along with applying to the science program at western I also applied for AEO status, which I did achieve.
MY FIRST YEAR COURSES
First year physics students are encouraged to take the highest level versions of calculus and physics, along with lin alg and one of comsci, chem, or stats ( I chose com sci).
1501A & 1502B
Though you are given the option of taking the lower level version of this course, I would highly recommend taking this version for multiple reasons. First off, this course (at least in my year) was insanely small for a first year course (20- 30 people) which i found really helped me understand the content, as it felt as though I was right back in a high school classroom. As a result I definitely think that I did much better mark wise rather than if I had been in one of the larger classes because it was way easier to ask the prof questions and participate in class. The smaller class size also meant it was way easier to make friends, especially since almost all the other kids in the class were other physics and astronomy kids. I definitely made one of my core groups of friends in this course and would highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in physics.
This course was actually very interesting to me as I had not been very exposed to coding before and found the problem solving aspect of it very interesting. As much as going to the lectures are good, the only way you can really learn to code is by doing it, so my biggest recommendation for this course is to really spend time properly learning the concepts by doing the assignments and labs. I personally found that If I was able to understand the concepts by applying them, not that much additional studying was required before the midterms and exams.
1000A & 1501B
Calculus as a whole was definitely my hardest course for all of first year. I opted to take the lower calc first semester which had its advantages and disadvantages. As much as the content was slightly easier, the class sizes were extremely large and as a result I did not feel comfortable asking questions. However going into second semester I did not find myself at a disadvantage to the kids who had taken the higher calculus first semester. Second semester the classes were smaller, but I did find it much harder to keep up with the homework questions on top of all the other assigned problems. Overall, no matter which level you take, my biggest mistake was not seeking help with my questions sooner as I was so used to high school clac which was much easier to wrap my head around.
I highly recommend this course for anyone who likes visual art as it's super chill and really nice to use as a destresser course to force yourself to do something other than study. The workload itself is usually just a 3 hour lab once a week along with one sketchbook assignment once every 2 weeks.
Linear algebra in very much the sort of course where you have to completely change how you think of certain things, but once you teach your brain the proper way, it's fairly straight forward from there. For this course reading the textbook and making notes on the concepts was super helpful along with doing the problems because once you understand the concepts and how to apply them in a basic situation, it's much easier to apply them in more complex situations than other forms of math like calc.
Fair warning, this is not the course to take if you are looking for a light elective to boost your mark. Though it is not difficult to get a good mark in this course it definitely takes a lot of dedication, and I would often find myself spending more time on this course than some of my required courses. However, it is an amazing course to take if you are interested in the business world and want a fairly thorough overview and introduction to most of the key concepts of business. I would highly recommend you take this course if you are interested in Ivey as it's a really good intro to what studying business will be like, but I will warn you that the 4 hour midterms and exams are definitely not a fun time!
KEY BUILDINGS ON CAMPUS
1151 Richmond St, London, ON N6G 2V4
NORTH CAMPUS BUILDING
2004 Perth Dr, London, ON
JOHN LABATT VISUAL ARTS CENTRE
1151 Richmond St, London, ON N6A 3K7
PHYSICS + ASTRONOMY BUILDING
1151 Richmond St, London, ON N6G 2V4
MY FAVOURITE STUDY SPOTS ON CAMPUS
Physics and astronomy building atrium
Floor lounge in residence
Not many of my courses had facebook groups (at least I didn’t join any) as they were the smaller higher level courses, however we formed a bunch of smaller snapchat groups for each class so definitely look out for those or even be the person to start one as they are super helpful!
THE PAL CENTRE
A resource I wish I had known about earlier was the PAL centre (peer assisted learning centre). It is a room in the student services building where you can go and there are upper year students available to tutor you in almost any subject for free without an appointment. The only drawback is there are specific times for each subject so you have to check the website beforehand to ensure a student will be available to help you in the specific subject at that time. Either way it is an amazing resource that I wish I had found out about and used earlier than I did
FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM
FIRST YEAR CAN BE SCARY
First year is scary and you have no idea what the hell is going on, but the fun part about it is that nobody else knows what the hell is going on either (and if they say they do they are lying) so you all get to figure it out together.