Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi! My name is Raluca Panainte, I am 19 years old and I am a first-year student in the Bachelor of Science Program at Ecole Polytechnique. I was born and raised in Timisoara, Romania, where I attended “Grigore Moisil” Theoretical High School. I have been passionate about Computer Science since middle school, and when I am not studying, I spend my time reading, volunteering, and taking photos or DJing at events on campus.
Why did you choose the Bachelor of Science of Ecole Polytechnique?
The Bachelor of Science offers students the opportunity of obtaining a double-major at one of the most prestigious engineering schools in France in just 3 years. Besides this, and the great variety of courses taught at a theoretical level, Ecole Polytechnique gives their best students the possibility to an accessible higher education. Considering my family’s financial situation, the interest-free loan that I received from the École Polytechnique Foundation played a big role in my decision to study here.
Could you tell us how the first year is going?
Like every new beginning, there are some moments of hardship that you will encounter. University is very different than high school and, at times, the workload can be quite overwhelming. On top of this, being away from home was harder than I expected. However, the administration, the coaches, as well as, BX24s and BX23s welcomed us with open arms, guiding us and answering all of our questions. Moreover, whenever I had difficulties with understanding the course material, there was always someone there happy to help: lecturers, TAs, or my classmates.
Do you have a favourite course?
During our first year we explore other subjects besides Mathematics, such as Computer Science, Economics and Physics, gaining basic knowledge in all three. However, the course I enjoyed the most so far was “Introduction to Analysis”. In Romania, we start studying this topic in high school, but, this semester, I had the chance of understanding Analysis on a more theoretical and detailed level. Our professor knew how to make every class enjoyable. He always encouraged us to reach out to him with any problem that we had. At the end of our weekly lecture, students would gather around him to further discuss the new concepts that were presented. Every time, he would gladly talk to each one of us.
What would be a great memory of your first year in the Program that you would like to share with future students?
Community spirit is a big part of the Bachelor program and living in the same dorm as everyone else definitely helps us to get to know each other better. Hence, my favorite memories consist of gathering up with my friends to prepare and eat dinner together. We always try to make time to catch up with one another while enjoying a nice meal. I would say this the bachelors’ way of bringing a sense of home away from home.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I have decided to major in Mathematics and Computer Science, and I am looking forward to all of my future courses. Right now, I am also considering taking the Biology minor. After completing the Bachelor, I am thinking of pursuing graduate studies in a field that incorporates Artificial Intelligence, but I like to keep my options open. You never know what the future has in store for you.
Any piece of advice to future Bachelor students that you would like to share?
Firstly, I would say that time management is essential. No one is perfect at it, but keeping track of your assignments, having some form of schedule each day will help you not fall behind work. Secondly, enjoy your student life: get to know as many people as you can, go to events here on campus and participate in Bachelor traditions. For international students, don’t forget to make some time to explore Paris. Lastly, don’t be afraid to try new things. There are many committees you can join here. From CS or Math to music, gardening or even bartending, there is at least one that will definitely spark your interest.