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Studying at the IUM is a cross between studying at a world class research institute and being a tourist for four months. Scholastically, the IUM offers first rate opportunities. The question is not “what classes should I take?” but rather “what do I want to learn?” If you can handle the freedom, the amount of mastery you can gain over a subject is limited only by the number of hours in the day. If you can’t handle the freedom, the personal attention will assure that you receive at least an Ivy league education.
As a tourist and a foreigner, I have been well treated by Moscow. The number of monuments, museums, and cathedrals is seemingly without limit. People are friendly, especially now that spring is taking hold, and transportation is both cheap and efficient. Speaking Russian is not a must, but I would definitely recommend at least a year of study.
Why shouldn’t you come? If you intend only to go to school, study in the evenings, and eat American food for your entire stay, you’re wasting your time. In any case, the first two weeks are a hard period of adjustment – you’re on the opposite side of the earth where people speak a different language, and you have to make an entirely new set of friends. It’s not a enjoyable experience.
Why should you come? Because it’s there. You can continue to study mathematics at a very competitive level while learning more about the world than you ever could staying at home. I can walk to Lenin’s Tomb during my lunch break. On weekends, I go out on the town with one Russian, two French, and an Italian. There are some things in life that need to be experienced before you can understand who you are, and how you relate to the world. This is one of them.
My name is Brian and I came here in September of 2001, and have studied mathematics in the MIM program for two semesters now. In my time here I was exposed to an entirely new math culture, not only in terms of level of difficulty (which is very high!) but also in how people who study mathematics here have already decided that mathematics will be a very big part of their lives. For all those to come I suggest taking things in with an open mind as sometimes the style of teaching and learning will be different from what you are used to. I wish everyone great success and lots of fun in what I am sure will be a remarkable experience!