I am a graduate student in mathematics, currently working from home due to the COVID crisis. Even though , yea, pure mathematicians can work from home, but I really miss the campus and the environment which drove me to be better. Do other mathematicians think the same on this platform?

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    Voting to close as opinion-based -- this site is designed for Q&A rather than forum-style discussions. And I think everyone, not just pure mathematicians, misses campus life.
    – astronat
    Jan 17 '21 at 17:20

My degree (pure math) is from long ago and almost all my work was done working alone, though I had an office at the U. There were two exceptions. One was that the coffee lounge was both a good place for a break and a good place to bounce ideas around. The second was that we had a periodic seminar of a few faculty and students interested in the specific research area.

But both of these (other than someone else making coffee) are doable in the modern world with internet connections. There is no reason to give up the "contact" with others if you have access to email and zoom. Even the seminar environment can be replicated effectively.

One issue for some is the possible distractions of having family around as you work. I had two children by the time I finished, so working at home (pre internet) would have been pretty difficult, even though the work I did was mostly in my own head and not collaborative.

I suspect that in applied math, closer contact with colleagues is more important than in pure, but I don't have experience with that.

But, the world is as it is. We all need to learn better ways to cope with that.

  • Yes I agree with the Applied Math comment.
    – stephanmg
    Jan 17 '21 at 14:03

I'm writing from the perspective of a computer science Masters student, so somewhat similar vantage point.

At the start of the past semester it became clear that most classes would be online, apart from a handful of on-site lab sessions with lots of socially distanced lab space. However, the masters program attracts a lot of students from different directions (the local bachelor, other bachelors transferring into CS, and foreign students) so a lot of the students didn't know each other.

However, most courses had a couple of team assignments. Faced with the prospect of having to team up with people sight-unseen, I proposed an outdoor picnic for a meet and greet among students. About twenty people attended and this resulted in various teams for various classes. It was a very positive experience. The team I formed for one particular class became the most successful one and we also discussed the work for various other couses, as well as things like how to navigate life in the Netherlands for the foreign member of our team.

Another thing that was quite helpful is that the department head set up a Discord server aimed primarily at students, with lecturers advised to stay out so students could talk freely. With channels for each course this helped students troubleshoot each other and get some of the classroom feeling of everyone anxiously preparing for a scary exam.

The moral of this story: lots of students are the same position as you, and would like a safe social venue. But someone is going to have to take the initiative and get it started. That could be you. It's not actually that hard, because lots of other people want you to succeed.

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