Math in Moscow

For the discussion of math. Duh.

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Lemminkainen
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Math in Moscow

Postby Lemminkainen » Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:05 am UTC

Has anybody on here participated in this study abroad program? One of my professors is encouraging me to go during the fall semester. He tells me that it will be an excellent experience for my mathematical development at this stage in my life. I'm currently a freshman at Rice University, and by the end of this year, I'll have completed multivariable calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, complex analysis, and a treatment of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry. Would this program be good for a person at my current level? Are there any other important things that I need to know?

Syrin
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Syrin » Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:47 am UTC

I was looking at that and I'm thinking of applying.

Suffusion of Yellow
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Suffusion of Yellow » Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:27 am UTC

Lemminkainen wrote: I'm currently a freshman at Rice University, and by the end of this year, I'll have completed multivariable calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, complex analysis, and a treatment of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry.


I hate being reminded how flimsy my school's math program is :(

dean.menezes
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby dean.menezes » Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:43 am UTC

In Soviet Russia, math does you!

Lemminkainen
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Lemminkainen » Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:49 am UTC

dean.menezes wrote:In Soviet Russia, math does you!


I actually joked for a while with friends that I would probably have trouble adjusting to the fact that there, theorem proves you. In all seriousness, though, I'm wondering if anybody who's been there has something to say.

Dynotec
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Dynotec » Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:49 am UTC

I'm in the program right now, it's my second semester, feel free to ask any questions.

The professors here are great, the dorm is pretty good and close to the center of the city (And full of very kind english speaking Russian women), and the city is a lot of fun.

I don't think you would have a problem, there are plenty of "introductory" classes that are taught in the insane Russian style. It would be great experience for you.

hnooch
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby hnooch » Sun Mar 21, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

Just to put it on your radar, there's also a great math program called the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics. Yes, Russian math is great, but so is Hungarian math.

www.budapestsemesters.com for the American page
www.bsmath.hu for the course syllabi, academic program, etc.

zpconn
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby zpconn » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:02 am UTC

Hey, I'm too am at Rice University being encouraged to go to Moscow next semester! I think we just might be in the same class... did you just have a complex analysis take-home midterm, in-class test, and problem set due one after the other? :D

I've decided to apply. I think the program looks great. I actually submitted my application today.

This is my first semester at Rice. Let's see... after this semester I'll have taken multivariable calculus, ODEs, linear algebra, number theory, a semester of abstract algebra, a year of real analysis, complex analysis, general topology, and a research seminar on knot theory. And computer science stuff.
Last edited by zpconn on Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:06 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Nic
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Nic » Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:52 pm UTC

Just, one thing about Moscow that needs to be said -- wouldn't going there if you're . . . well, if you're not white. I have a friend who's dropping out of the program today and getting on a plane tomorrow: and though the subway blowing up had a little to do with it, it was mainly that he got jumped by skinheads earlier and barely managed to stay simply connected. If you still wanna go, just remember -- stay in large groups, especially at night, know how to get out of a fight as well as how to win one, and consider learning how to use a knife.
Budapest, on the other hand: a fairly safe city, cheap delicious food, lots of things to see and do. You may want to consider it as an alternative.

zpconn
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby zpconn » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:05 pm UTC

I cannot deny that the subway bombing is giving me some second thoughts. Dynotec, how do you feel about your safety since you are there right now?

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BlackSails
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby BlackSails » Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:18 pm UTC

Nic wrote: barely managed to stay simply connected.


People arent simply connected. Your digestive system forms a hole through your body.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Nic » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:17 pm UTC

I realized that right after I posted, but I'd argue it's hardly the most pressing concern of someone about to be STABBED TO DEATH.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Dynotec » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:55 pm UTC

zpconn wrote:I cannot deny that the subway bombing is giving me some second thoughts. Dynotec, how do you feel about your safety since you are there right now?


Realistically, 3.7 million people took the metro that day, and 40 died. And there have been attacks on 4 days out of the last 40 years. So the naive estimate is that your odds of dying on any given day as a commuter on the Moscow metro is 2*4/(3.7*10^6*40*365)~1.5*10^-10. You'll be there for about 15 weeks, so that puts your total odds of death by terror attack during your stay at 1.55*10^-8, or roughly 1 in a 150 million. I feel pretty safe...

"Just, one thing about Moscow that needs to be said -- wouldn't going there if you're . . . well, if you're not white. I have a friend who's dropping out of the program today and getting on a plane tomorrow: and though the subway blowing up had a little to do with it, it was mainly that he got jumped by skinheads earlier and barely managed to stay simply connected. If you still wanna go, just remember -- stay in large groups, especially at night, know how to get out of a fight as well as how to win one, and consider learning how to use a knife. "

Talking about an unnamed person under a pseudo-annonomyous pen name is weird! But I'm pretty sure I know who you're talking about, (Out of 20 students, only one has left...), and I never heard of him getting jumped. I'm not saying it couldn't have happened, but we all live in the same hallway, take the same classes, and sit at the same table at lunch every day, and I hadn't heard about it. I was under the impression that he had some sort of family issue back in his home country to tend to, since he had to fly out back in the beginning of March for two weeks. But send me a message if I'm off base so I can edit my post.

As for safety, I would disagree. I feel a lot more safe walking around Moscow at night alone then I did back in the states. Common sense is necessary, it's probably not a good idea to walk around alone in an abandoned industrial district on the edge of town, but that wouldn't be smart in any city! The areas around the school, the dorm, and all the tourist attractions and nightclubs all have a pretty heavy security presence.

There was an incident a couple of years ago, when two kids got beat up after getting into an argument at a billiards bar over a soccer match. Staying away from sports bars and football teams is probably a good idea.

We were all pretty worried about our safety in the beginning, but eventually we learned that crazy Russian drivers and Frostbite were much more pressing threats. (Since it's relevent, I'm middle eastern)

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Silas » Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:41 am UTC

I did this program a few years ago. You're at about the stage in math as I was (a little past, I think), and I was definitely at the amateur end of the group. I don't have much frame of reference on the classes themselves- I did pretty much all of my intro-level classes there, and by the time I got back, I'd had enough of higher math. I will say this: the Russian language class was pretty awful. Of the people who didn't speak any Russian when they arrived (11/14), only one got to the point of having even a basic conversation. The class for the two of us who knew some of the language was... a waste of time.

So, it's a pretty decent study-abroad, from the academic side. But that's not what I have to tell you about this program. I'm giving you the absolute bare bones- I can tell the whole story if you need it.

I was there for the spring semester of 2006. They put us up in (some of the best, fwiw) student quarters in the Main Building at MGU. This is a good location- it's a secured, iconic building about half a mile from the Metro. The problem is, the lease wasn't on the level. To this day, I don't know the exact details, or if it was par for the course in Moscow.

Long story short, after a woman in our group (accidentally) set her mattress on fire with a curling iron, we all got evicted, with about 8 hours notice. The IUM administration apparently called in a favor, and we got to put our stuff in a storage room in the same building and put us up in a hotel overnight. The next day, we moved to other rooms in the same complex, on terms that probably weren't any more kosher than before, but it held up until we went home. The girl with the curling iron fled the country on the advice of the Embassy (there's context missing here, but it was a bad situation).

I hear really good things about the one in Budapest.
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Dynotec
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Dynotec » Sat Apr 10, 2010 2:12 pm UTC

Silas wrote: I will say this: the Russian language class was pretty awful. Of the people who didn't speak any Russian when they arrived (11/14), only one got to the point of having even a basic conversation. The class for the two of us who knew some of the language was... a waste of time.


This hasn't changed much. The program is bigger now, so they usually offer 3 levels of Russian instruction. From what I've heard, the upper levels are pretty good, but the lower level classes are pretty bad. If you don't already know Russian, don't expect to learn it.



[/quote]But that's not what I have to tell you about this program. I'm giving you the absolute bare bones- I can tell the whole story if you need it.[/quote]

I would love to hear the story!

The dorm situation has completely changed though. They've got us in these good dorms for the Higher School of Economics about a minute's walk away from the Studentcheskaya metro stop, two stops away from the school and the center of the city. The IUM has been absorbed by the Higher School of Economics, so we have a clear unambiguous right to be in our dorms, we're even exempt from the room examinations that the other students go though. We're pretty much free to do as we want, I don't think anyone has gotten in trouble this year, despite some misbehavior.

The rooms are ok. They're one room, we issued a refrigerator, a boiler, and some pots and pans. There's free broadband internet, though connectivity gets a bit choppy when everyone in the dorm begins to download movies. The bathrooms and showers are communal. We get issued new sheets and towels once a week.

Every student in the dorm speaks perfect english, most of them are girls (Moscow has a bit of a skewed gender ratio), everyone is pretty nice and helpful.

[/quote]I hear really good things about the one in Budapest.[/quote]

I have too: Good beer, much nicer apartments, easy travel to the rest of Europe. But Academically, Moscow's probably better if you've already gone through the introductory classes. The class sizes here are insanely small (Three of my classes have two students), and the professors are some of the brightest in the world.

zpconn
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby zpconn » Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:42 am UTC

I just got accepted a few days ago. Unfortunately the AMS lost funding for the scholarship it seems.

I'm disappointed to hear that the language class isn't that great. That's too bad since this takes place in Russia, the ideal place to learn Russian.

How are the Intermediate courses? My impression is that you get to do some course "shopping" at the beginning to figure out what you want to take, but it seems I'd most likely be taking advanced algebra, and algebraic number theory is very probable since it's not offered at my school .
Last edited by zpconn on Sun Apr 11, 2010 1:36 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

Silas
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Silas » Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:50 am UTC

zpconn wrote:I'm disappointed to hear that the language class isn't that great. That's too bad since this takes place in Russia, the ideal place to learn Russian.

I'm certain that if you asked, they could set you up with a good language class at MGU or some other school. It was the philology department that booked my group into our second dorms- I think the MIM team has some connections there. Or, ask if they can set you up with a host family. Even with mediocre classroom instruction, that'll push you into conversational fluency really fast. One girl who took MIM classes (she'd set up a blended program through her school) couldn't read the alphabet when she arrived, but after three months with her host family, she could talk circles around me, who'd been in the dorm with the other MIM students.

Dynotec wrote:The dorm situation has completely changed though. They've got us in these good dorms for the Higher School of Economics about a minute's walk away from the Studentcheskaya metro stop, two stops away from the school and the center of the city. The IUM has been absorbed by the Higher School of Economics, so we have a clear unambiguous right to be in our dorms, we're even exempt from the room examinations that the other students go though. We're pretty much free to do as we want, I don't think anyone has gotten in trouble this year, despite some misbehavior.

You should have seen the MGU dorms. I mean, there's no denying, it's cool to live in a national landmark. But the quarters were... shabby. That's the only way to put it. This place was probably really nice, in 1953. The floor most of us were on had been kept up pretty well, but there's only so much maintenance can do.

Two rooms (plus a foyer, water closet, and shower room) to a suite- rooms are about seven feet by fifteen. The bed is a sort of segmented futon- there's a bureau, and a table, with an autokettle- which we're instructed to keep out of sight, in case of an (unlikely) room inspection. Heating elements are strictly forbidden. The floor is wooden herringbone, and it hasn't been washed since the 20th century (I won't discover this until I'm cleaning up a pool of vomit, and the tan wood floor comes out birch white). There's no refrigerator, but the windows are double-paned, so you can keep your perishables between the windows, and the Russian winter will keep them from spoiling. There's a shared kitchen down the hall, with two lonely gas stoves, a free-standing steel sink, and no counters or tables of any kind.

Now, the rooms don't come with internet, but if you brought your computer (few of us did, because we were told there was no internet), you could get a line installed for about five hundred rubles, and pay about four rubles a megabyte thereafter. Now, Tom paid the fee, bought a few hundred megs, and expected a technician to come by and hook a network jack. But that's not how things work in Moscow.

About seven o'clock the next evening- mind you, this is February in Moscow, and the sun sets around 3:30- a guy knocks on the door to Tom's suite. Tom opens it, and the man comes in, bringing his hockey stick with him. (Wait, hockey stick?) Now, Tom doesn't speak a word of Russian at this point. He has no fucking clue what's going on. So his roommate calls me over, but when I get there, the Russian network tech has gotten his point across, presumably through mime. He wants Tom to lean out his open window, into the night, and hold the hockey stick out as far as he can.

Some spinning disc comes hurtling through the night and flashes across the window. Tom is so startled he almost drops the stick (which would be bad, from our height of maybe 120m). "Catch it," grunts the Russian guy, but instead of ловить, he uses some other word that I don't know, and five minutes of fumbling with my dictionary ensues. Anyway, long story short, internet is provided by throwing down a coil of ethernet cable from some better-connected room above, then feeding it in through a gap in the window and stabling it to the wall. I suspect the internet provider isn't exactly the kind of business that pays taxes, but it's not my problem, so I don't say anything.

The next day, as we're leaving for class, we look up at the building and see what we'd never noticed before. The entire Russian gothic facade is covered in a fine mesh of cables. It looks like they were shooting a Spiderman movie there.

I hope you've enjoyed this week's episode of Madness? This. Is. Moscow!. Tune in next week, when you'll hear about the Vietnamese beer man and Hitler's birthday party.
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Nic » Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:31 am UTC

Dynotec wrote:I was under the impression that he had some sort of family issue back in his home country to tend to, since he had to fly out back in the beginning of March for two weeks. But send me a message if I'm off base so I can edit my post.

As for safety, I would disagree. I feel a lot more safe walking around Moscow at night alone then I did back in the states. Common sense is necessary, it's probably not a good idea to walk around alone in an abandoned industrial district on the edge of town, but that wouldn't be smart in any city! The areas around the school, the dorm, and all the tourist attractions and nightclubs all have a pretty heavy security presence.

He says it happened three days before he left, and it pretty much cemented his decision to leave even before the bombing, so I don't know how much time there would've been to talk about it. Plus, you've met him -- just because you'd expect someone to bring that sort of thing up in conversation doesn't mean he will.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Dynotec » Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:22 am UTC

Nic wrote:
Dynotec wrote:I was under the impression that he had some sort of family issue back in his home country to tend to, since he had to fly out back in the beginning of March for two weeks. But send me a message if I'm off base so I can edit my post.

As for safety, I would disagree. I feel a lot more safe walking around Moscow at night alone then I did back in the states. Common sense is necessary, it's probably not a good idea to walk around alone in an abandoned industrial district on the edge of town, but that wouldn't be smart in any city! The areas around the school, the dorm, and all the tourist attractions and nightclubs all have a pretty heavy security presence.

He says it happened three days before he left, and it pretty much cemented his decision to leave even before the bombing, so I don't know how much time there would've been to talk about it. Plus, you've met him -- just because you'd expect someone to bring that sort of thing up in conversation doesn't mean he will.


...yeah, this is true. He can be a bit quiet... That's so terrible though, he was ok?

There was an incident last semester that bears mentioning. We have a Pakistani kid who speaks fluent Russian, and he was on the metro in a weird part of town with a group of other Americans further back on the train. Some Russians came up to him and started yelling at him, but he was the only one in the group who spoke Russian, so the other Americans didn't know. Then one of the Russians started yelling "White City!!", which got the American's attention. Then there was a bit of a confrontation and the Americans got off at the next stop.

So...there are some issues if you're not white...

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby GoldenYears » Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:32 am UTC

Is this a collaboration between US & canadian unis, & moscow only? Im in europe, and moscow sounds mighty interesting :)

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Dynotec » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:03 pm UTC

GoldenYears wrote:Is this a collaboration between US & canadian unis, & moscow only? Im in europe, and moscow sounds mighty interesting :)



Depends on the country. The IUM has pretty extensive collaboration with French universities. Send the school an email and see what can be worked out.

EstLladon
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby EstLladon » Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

As the resident russian mathematician here I feel obliged to hi to this thread.

Hi!
From Russia with math.

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Nic
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Nic » Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:42 am UTC

Dynotec wrote:...yeah, this is true. He can be a bit quiet... That's so terrible though, he was ok?

There was an incident last semester that bears mentioning. We have a Pakistani kid who speaks fluent Russian, and he was on the metro in a weird part of town with a group of other Americans further back on the train. Some Russians came up to him and started yelling at him, but he was the only one in the group who spoke Russian, so the other Americans didn't know. Then one of the Russians started yelling "White City!!", which got the American's attention. Then there was a bit of a confrontation and the Americans got off at the next stop.

So...there are some issues if you're not white...

I got the impression he managed to outrun them. From what I've read on the subject, if you can pass for European, you won't notice anybody treating you different, if you look Caucasian or East Asian, you better play up your American accent so the locals don't think you're an immigrant; if you look Central Asian or black, you're gonna be confronted by scary people no matter what precautions you take.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby zpconn » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:08 am UTC

While searching for info on the program, I stumbled across the thread

http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=307445

where it is written "they admit maybe 4-10 undergrads per term out of 500-600 applicants." Any idea if this is true? If it is, I realized neither that they were this selective nor that they received that many applications.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Dynotec » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:35 am UTC

zpconn wrote:While searching for info on the program, I stumbled across the thread

http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=307445

where it is written "they admit maybe 4-10 undergrads per term out of 500-600 applicants." Any idea if this is true? If it is, I realized neither that they were this selective nor that they received that many applications.


The students from most of the universities here are from very good schools (About half are from ivies this year), so I guess that's not surprising(Though it mystifies me how I got in!). Their program has been expanded to 20 students though, because now they finally have a stable partnership with a dormitory. For the fall semester, I think the program might be expanded further, I've heard talks that an entire floor is going to be reserved for international students.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Silas » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:17 am UTC

zpconn wrote:where it is written "they admit maybe 4-10 undergrads per term out of 500-600 applicants." Any idea if this is true? If it is, I realized neither that they were this selective nor that they received that many applications.

If that's true now, it sure wasn't five years ago. There were some accomplished and talented people in my group, but I know I wasn't in the top 5% of the pool. Hell, I was missing part of the application (I'm pretty sure it was just one of the two letters from professors, but an email from my archive suggests even my transcript hadn't arrived, two weeks before I was admitted). I can think of only three explanations:
  • They admitted nearly everyone who applied.
  • I was admitted solely on the strength of my college's name. (I doubt it- I was at a good school, but not that good a school.)
  • They decided to give me a free pass, because otherwise there would be nobody in the group who could speak more than elementary Russian. (I doubt this, too, because a few other people certainly had the basics down.)

But PhysicsForum may be talking about IUM, the degree-granting university, instead of the MiM program. I have heard that their undergraduate program, which is really for high-school-aged students (I'm fuzzy on the details) is about that competitive.
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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby zpconn » Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:35 pm UTC

One thought is that I'm always surprised at how many applications REUs receive (hundreds), so I'm not sure why MiM would not receive a similar number of applications, especially since it's one of only two main study abroad programs for math.

It does seem possible that the poster was talking about the IUM and not MiM, but I think the IUM has discarded their entrance exams and now anybody can attend so long as you pass the final exams your first semester (or something like that).

I suppose we'll never know!

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby belae » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:25 pm UTC

I realize this is an old topic, but was wondering if anyone had any advice on applying to this program if it isn't already approved by your university. The study abroad office seems generally uninterested in helping me, but I have to make sure the credits will transfer and so forth. Has anyone tried to do this program on their own, or could I go through another university? I'm a little stuck.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Dynotec » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:18 pm UTC

belae wrote:I realize this is an old topic, but was wondering if anyone had any advice on applying to this program if it isn't already approved by your university. The study abroad office seems generally uninterested in helping me, but I have to make sure the credits will transfer and so forth. Has anyone tried to do this program on their own, or could I go through another university? I'm a little stuck.


In general, the department usually has an enormous amount of discretion when it comes to accepting credits. I'd talk to your advisor or department head. One work around I've heard a student do, was that he took independent studies and the professor imputed the Moscow grade.

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Re: Math in Moscow

Postby Quaternia » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:03 am UTC

Speaking from experience transferring universities, transfer credits are a nightmare. You should contact your specific program advisor, someone who will actually know what the "math in Moscow" program is. Depending on your university, he will then either take care of business for you, or at least point you to the right administrative staff that handles your credits/transcript.
Study Abroad is there mostly to help you get the necessary paperwork done for the actual travel, they can't really speak for the department and guarantee the course equivalences.
One thing that could help is if you bring them a list of the courses you'll take there, and then match them with the equivalent course credit you would like to receive from your home university. That should save them some time and prevent confusion. I would also take a look at your university's transfer student policies regarding credits, because that's similar to what you'll be doing. If they have a specific form or whatever there for matching credits, filling it out for them and bringing it in might help even if it's just extra. (and at least it will show you're serious and dedicated about studying abroad)
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