Could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Marco Nahas and I am 19 years old. I am Lebanese and I lived in Beirut my whole life where I studied at the Grand-Lycée Franco Libanais. I am currently a second-year student at Ecole Polytechnique, majoring in Mathematics and Physics, with a minor in Chemistry. I am most interested in Mathematics and this has been the case since middle school. Apart from that, I am always very passionate about meeting new people, and trying out new experiences, so this means that I enjoy travelling, going out, and discovering new cultures. During my free time, I also like to read Philosophy, or just sit and talk with my friends, or watch TV shows.
Why did you choose the Bachelor of Science of Ecole Polytechnique?
I attended a French high school and therefore always felt a connection with France and its culture. So, studying in France was one of my first goals for higher education. Of course, I directly thought about Ecole Polytechnique when considering my choices as it is one of the most prestigious schools of the country, especially known for its incredible teachings of Mathematics and other sciences. This is how I stumbled upon the Bachelor Program which directly caught my interest. I was firstly very attracted by the fact that the program was taught in English, which I thought would become a huge advantage for me in the future. Secondly, I really liked the way the program was constructed, starting from most general to more specific subjects, but also the fact that it was very Math oriented which obviously suited my main interest. Apart from that, what comforted me in my choice was the international aspect of the program which would have and did allow me to meet so many people from different cultures, but also the link it creates between students and the amazing researchers working on campus.
Could you tell us how the second year is going?
The second year is going pretty good for me. On one hand, the friendships I have created during the first year are starting to consolidate themselves and I am getting more and more comfortable living away from home. I feel like I am more organized with my way of life, and the way I manage my time; which allows me to enjoy better both the academics and the social life I have on and off campus. Academically wise, the second year is surely tough. The subjects become more and more specific and therefore more and more complicated and work demanding. But this also means that they become increasingly more attractive, challenging and interesting; we get to a more thorough understanding of the subjects that we like most which makes the amount of work feel lighter. Having talked with many students from various universities, the second year is usually known to be one of the hardest and most eye-opening, because we start to really understand and remark what we really enjoy and what we like a bit less. And I somewhat agree, I started to have a more critical thought about the subjects I would want to pursue in the future, and this came after realizing which ones felt most like leisure while studying.
Do you have a favorite course?
I think it comes with no surprise if I say that my favorite course is a Mathematics one. What I really enjoyed coming in the Bachelor was the rigor and nice mixture of both theory and computation of the teachings of Mathematical subjects; something that I did not precisely see in my high school years. Then, I would think that my favorite course for the moment remains the Linear Algebra course of the First Semester. I don’t particularly know why, whether it was the very nice lectures, or the amazing content of the course, or maybe the incredible Teaching Assistant that we had that made the subject so interesting, but I had an awesome time going to this class which is at the basis of all the following Algebra courses. Some runner ups would be the Topology and Multivariable Calculus course that we had in the Third Semester, which was also very enjoyable, or the Euclidean and Hermitian spaces course that I am currently having in the Fourth Semester and which is showing a lot of potential.
What would be a great memory of your second year in the Program that you would like to share with future students?
I think that one great memory I have about this second year was the integration of First year students. I am part of the L’ore, which is the student council of the Bachelor program, and I am in charge of integration. Which means that I had the responsibility of organizing the integration weeks for the new-coming students on campus, with the help of an amazing Integration Team. This is one of my greatest memories because I felt so much joy watching new students meet each other and enjoy the events we have prepared for them; but also, because I got the opportunity to meet so many of them and to enjoy the beginning of the year with them. It was in addition very satisfactory to see that the amount of work that we have put into the organization of those three weeks turned into something so positive. It was truly a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to try it out.
What are your ambitions for the future?
At first, I was pretty confused about what I wanted to do with my life after studies. But as I said, this second year allowed me to understand myself better and the subjects I like most. I realized that Physics was probably not for me but that Mathematics, on another hand, is what I am really passionate about. This is the reason why I am currently thinking about pursuing a Masters in Applied Mathematics, and the end goal would be to apply Mathematics to the environmental field; as I want to be able to become an actor fighting the climate crisis. I will hopefully be going on exchange soon to the University of California San Diego where I will be able to test whether this is really what I want to be doing after the Bachelor.
Any piece of advice to future Bachelor students that you would like to share?
I would want to let them know that the social and personal life is just as important as academics. Indeed, when we get to the Bachelor, we are surrounded by very intelligent people and start learning difficult subjects which need of course a consequent amount of work. One might be deluded into thinking that working the whole day might make them succeed most. So, I would tell new coming Bachelor Students that working is indeed important, but so is their social life, the friends they will make here and the experiences they will live. What makes the Bachelor so unique and great is the fact that it can’t be restricted solely to its academical aspect. It might sound a little cheesy but there is some stuff that we can’t learn from a book: discovering new cultures, becoming independent, managing your time, making long-lasting friends and having unforgettable experiences in Paris; and these things should never be overlooked. The university life is also mostly about discovering yourself, so don’t let yourself forget about this primary goal!