How to study at Charles University – review of a foreign student. Computer science at Charles University

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How I entered and study at Charles University is a personal experience. Studies at the Computer Science Department of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of Charles University

Study at Charles University – review

How I entered Charles University – personal experience

You can apply to a Czech university in many universities at once. The entrance exam itself is taken in three subjects — physics, mathematics and computer science. Moreover, regardless of which department (physics, mathematics or computer science) a person enters. The worst result out of three is not counted, that is, one exam can be completely flunked or not go to it at all (I didn’t go to physics), and this will not affect the result in any way. Study at Charles University – review.

The exams are quite simple and typical. For example, a math exam is to solve a simple trigonometric equation, some simple planimetric problem, a logic problem like “Masha and Dasha have 5 apples, who stole the sixth apple?” or a rebus and something else like that. In computer science — for example, to answer the question “How many stars will this program output?” (without bells and whistles and pitfalls). There are 4 such tasks in each part and 90 minutes are given to solve the exam.

Computer science education at Charles University – review

If it is very easy to enter a university, then it is not easy to study at Charles University, and somewhere 60-70% of students do not finish their degree.

Our training system is such that three attempts are given to pass each subject. If after three attempts the student has not passed the subject, he can write it down for the next year and he will have three attempts again. A total of six attempts to pass each subject.

On the other hand, if a person has not passed a subject that was mandatory in 6 attempts, then he is expelled from the university. Or if you haven’t scored enough credits, they exclude you too. With all the liberality of the requirements for gnawing the granite of science, they exclude here quickly, clearly and without problems. It is probably possible to persuade the dean not to exclude it, but a very good reason is needed.

However, in order to be excluded, it is really necessary to score very desperately on studying. Well, even the one who was expelled has the opportunity to enroll again and automatically count those subjects that were passed for “excellent” and “good”.

How to study computer science at Charles University. Subjects, schedules

Computer science education at Charles University - review

Computer science education at Charles University – review

Study at Charles University – review. There are several training programs in computer science — “Theoretical Computer Science”, “Programming” and “Databases”. For each program there is a list of mandatory subjects (this includes mathematical analysis, algebra, programming, algorithms, etc.), a large list of semi—mandatory subjects (you don’t have to take all of them, it’s enough to dial the right number of credits for them – you usually need to choose 3-4 subjects out of 12 to your taste) and free subjects (it can be any subjects that are studied at the faculty — I had one of these subjects, for example, was “History of Physics”). All required subjects must be passed. It is also necessary to pass part of the semi-obligatory.

Since a student can choose subjects to his taste, then, accordingly, he can make himself a schedule such as is convenient for him. And study (except mandatory) subjects only those that are interesting to him. The degree of freedom here is quite large. Some people use it (choose the most “free” items for themselves), but according to my observations, there are quite a few of them.

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Credit system of education of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of Charles University

At our university, everything is built on a credit system. This means that each student, in order to transfer to the next semester, must collect a certain number of credits per semester. Usually this number corresponds to about 40 hours of study load per week — 1 hour of classes per week = 1 credit. Credits are awarded for the passed exam or credit (if the subject does not have an exam). Credits can be accumulated “in reserve” — to pass a bunch of exams in the first few semesters. This is very convenient for those who want, for example, to go to the Himalayas for six months or a year without interrupting their studies (there are some here).

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The level of study at Charles University

From what I can note subjectively:

The level of teachers at Charles University

90% of the teachers of the Czech university are at a very good level. Firstly, most of the teachers here are no more than 40-45 years old and they are very active in the scientific field, secondly they are very open and willing to help students with understanding the material, thirdly, I never had a problem at the exam “Why is the proof not like it was at the lecture?”. Whenever I did something as it was written in my favorite book, and not in lectures, the teacher sat and sorted out my proofs and gave an assessment only after fully understanding. And if my answer was correct, but not the same as his, then it did not affect the assessment (on the contrary, many were very happy to see that someone had written something new).

It should also be noted that in applied fields they are taught by people who really understand them. The subject “F#”, for example, is taught by a person who was engaged in the development of this language at Microsoft and wrote a book about it. Programming in C++ /Java / C# is taught by people who have been writing in these languages for a very long time, and they write real projects on which they earn real money. Teachers of the subjects “Linux Administration” or “Computer Security” teach only a couple of hours a week — and the rest of the time they work as specialists in administration or security.

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Studying to be a programmer at Charles University review

Study at Charles University – review. Since programming is a very dynamic field, most subjects need to constantly update the program. Our university succeeds in this. They learn programming from us immediately in C# (there is also a C++ subject and it is mandatory, asm is semi—mandatory). If they study the architecture of processors, they study the example of Pentium 4, giving a couple of lectures on the differences from modern architectures like Core 2 at the level of micro-commands. There are subjects “Programming for Android”, “Programming for iPhone”. In general, there are no problems with relevance.

Educational materials

There are no special problems with educational materials either. Firstly, there is a very good library of computer literature available (in many languages). If there is no very necessary book in it, then it can be ordered at the expense of the faculty (this, however, can only be done by teachers). Secondly, the faculty has several well-equipped computer laboratories. You can connect to them remotely and use their computing power (for example, leave all sorts of obscenities like neural networks to count at night).

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How to study computer science at Charles University

There are a lot of mandatory credits during your studies. For example, you need to write a project in C++, a project in Java, a project in Haskell and Prolog (this was a mandatory subject, by the way), a PHP website with a database, a Flash project, a Unix utility in C (at the server level with sockets or rlogin). There is also a mandatory subject “Operating Systems” — where we write part of the operating system for MIPS (it was a horror-horror and two weeks of sleepless nights) — which is considered one of the most difficult for the entire course. In general, a student who has honestly worked out all the tests will be able to do a very large bunch of everything a little and will be very well prepared for the real life of a programmer.

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Study at Charles University – review. Free attendance of lectures and classes

Since there is no such thing as a “Mandatory schedule” at the university, the concept of a group is also very conditional. I was in the first year in the group of 31, but it didn’t mean anything at all — everyone only went to different subjects and I don’t even know what my “classmates” look like.

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In this place, I should be ashamed, but I did not attend university as regularly as I could (why go to mathematical analysis if you can read the same thing in a book?). Once I even tried to hand over a written exam paper by mistake to another teacher (I saw the teacher for the first time on the exam and before that I didn’t know what he looked like at all). And more than once it was not a problem at the exam (there were no hints at the question “Why didn’t I see you at the lectures?” at the exam. Yes, what’s there at the lectures — the teachers didn’t even see me at the practices). It does not matter at all if the student passes the exam well and writes a test.

Study at Charles University – review. The non-necessity of attendance results in the fact that most students start working during their studies in the second or third year. Personally, I have been working full-time since my third year. This somewhat affected my average score (from 4.72 to 4.60 on a five-point scale) and I also study for 7 years instead of the standard five years.

I would also like to note separately that a student who believes that he was given some kind of assessment unfairly and the teacher did it only because he disliked him very much for something, may well write an application and ask for re-examination by the commission (usually 2-3 other teachers. I did it once and this process is quite normal — it is not considered a scandal. It just happens that a student and a teacher do not agree in character — and in order to avoid offending a student, a third-party teacher re-examines.

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Review about studying at Charles University – conclusions

I think Czech local students have a slightly weaker base in mathematical and theoretical disciplines in general — we did not pass surface integrals and a bunch of other things that are taught in many post-Soviet universities.

On the other hand, students here are not stuffed with a large amount of unnecessary or outdated material, and are not left to the mercy of teachers who do not understand their subject themselves. Most of the teachers here are very excellent people and teachers. You can go drink beer with them and generally communicate on equal terms. And, most importantly, many of them are actually working on real projects in the fields they teach.

Well, the main point is freedom and opportunities. There are a lot of opportunities here — if there is a desire. The list of items that can be recorded and areas is very impressive. But no one forces students to study or use these opportunities out of the stick. No one will pull it or put a three “for a sad look.” And to get a diploma, you will need to try a little harder — but such a diploma, at least, says a lot.

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FAQ – studying at Charles University

What language is taught in? The training is conducted in Czech. Written papers and emails can be written in English.
Do foreign students have to pay for their studies? No need. Foreigners can study in the Czech Republic for free. On the other hand, the student’s expenses for housing, food, insurance are paid independently. The cost of living is about $ 500 per month. The optimum is about 700-800 dollars.

Do the Czechs offend foreigners? Do not offend. I have a lot of Czech friends, a Czech husband, and in 7 years in the Czech Republic, no Czech has offended me yet.

Are foreigners given a hostel? And how to live there? The hostel is given. It costs about $ 180 a month, the room is usually designed for two people. The conditions there for a hostel are quite good.

Do they pay a scholarship? They don’t pay. There is a scholarship based on the results of studies — but they begin to give it only from the second year, only to excellent students, and it is about $ 50. It is unlikely to get a social scholarship or a peoples’ friendship scholarship or some other kind – the university does not give anything like that.

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