Could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Antonia Baies and I am 20 years old. I am Romanian but I’ve lived most of my life in the south of France. I attended my city’s public high-school where I took the regular French Baccalaureate with a specialty in mathematics and physics. Here at Polytechnique, I am a mathematics and computer science major, although I never studied CS before coming.
Why did you choose the Bachelor of Science of Ecole Polytechnique?
There are many reasons why I chose the Bachelor. First, I didn’t know what particular field I wanted to go into, except for the fact that I wanted to study sciences. I just knew I couldn’t go wrong with math, so joining the Bachelor wouldn’t close any doors.
Second, as I did a French baccalaureate, the most natural choice for me was to do a “prépa”. However, what I loved about the bachelor is the extra-curricular opportunities. Already in my first year, I did a summer internship with a mathematics researcher, and if I did a prépa I would most probably have to wait for 2 years before having any such experience.
I also loved the diversity of the program, and I felt like I could really fit in among other students with an international background like me.
And finally, I was also awarded the Women in Sciences scholarship and an interest free-loan, which made the Bachelor attractive compared to other programs with high tuition fees.
Could you tell us how the second year is going?
The second year is going great! I actually enjoy it even more than the first year, because we finally got to study a wide enough range of topics for us to start deciding on what we like and what we don’t. It’s also very exciting to study more specialized topics, and the courses in second year are among my favorites. Also, during the first year there are big disparities between each student’s level, but during the second year it’s much more even which is particularly enjoyable. Although the courses can be very challenging, we all struggle together and help each other out without competition.
Do you have a favourite course?
One of the courses I enjoyed the most is the introduction to networks programming offered at the end of the 4th semester. The format is quite different from our usual courses. We have to teach ourselves the course’s material, work on TDs (Travaux Dirigés) on our own, and then individually discuss with the teachers our solutions to the exercises. It requires a lot of autonomy and discipline as there are no deadline, so we have to organise our work throughout the semester by ourselves. Depending on your working habits, you may or may not enjoy having so much freedom, but it really works out well for me, and I have very happy that the bachelor allows us to experience different ways of teaching/learning.
What would be a great memory of your second year in the Program that you would like to share with future students?
During this year, I particularly cherished the weekly Russian classes, and I keep it as a great memory of the Bachelor. We happened to be only 3 students in class, so the course was much more “cozy” and we developed great bonds with the teacher. The class discussions would go much further than just grammar and vocabulary, we would learn about culture and history and even taste typical dishes. Besides, Russian-speaking students in the Bachelor were always happy to help with homework and would encourage me to practice outside of class, and I developed good friendships with many of them.
What are your ambitions for the future?
After graduating from the Bachelor, I will most probably pursue my studies in computer science. I want to settle in France or in Europe, so this is where I will mostly apply to graduate programs. I love the idea of building things “from scratch”, and I am very interested in low level topics but I also enjoy higher level programming, so I hope to combine both in a Master in communicating systems or cybersecurity.
Any piece of advice to future Bachelor students that you would like to share?
Never doubt yourself and never think that you don’t belong here, because if you got in, you definitely can stay in. When I came to the Bachelor, I was very intimidated by my classmates and their achievements, and couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t as good as they were. Yet, I’ve been doing well for already 2 years in the Bachelor, and things keep getting better and better.
Also, you definitely don’t need to come from a well-known and prestigious high-school to be a good fit for the program, and if you’re still wondering whether you should apply or not, this is your sign to not hesitate any longer!