Message from Yu Xuan

Dec 30, 2023

My name is Yu Xuan and at the time of writing this I am currently a year 3 student finishing his internship/ undergraduate research II at the University of Gdansk in Poland.

It has been a few months since I arrived in Gdansk and I got to say life has been fantastic here. The very first thing I would like to share is that me being a 21-year-old kid that was born and raised in Malaysia, I have the chance to witness and touch snow for the very first time in my life, truly incredible. The texture of snow is exactly the same as the shaved ice in our cendol dessert in Malaysia, where our only 3 seasons are hot, hotter, and even hotter.

The title of my research with Dr. Thomas Zlosnik is called “Action Integral and Newton-Cartan Theory”. A bit of information on my research is that the action integral is an integral used in Physics that is like a dictionary that stores the Physics concepts of a system which can be extracted from (e.g. equations of motion of a particle, conservation laws, and more), provided that we know the Lagrangian of the system. Newton-Cartan theory is a theory that makes it possible to write out the equations of Newtonian gravity in a form that has the same ‘spacetime’ symmetries as Einstein’s General Relativity. The question is, can we write out an action in a way such that the equations of Newton-Cartan theory can be extracted from it? So far, such integral has not been discovered and found in our research, but all the necessary tools and mathematics have been understood and developed to unravel what form it looks like in the future.

For me, other than this magnificent and spectacular research period I have with Dr. Zlosnik, another thing I enjoyed the most during my stay here is the community I am in. In the department I am in during my internship, there are Masters and PhD defenses by the students once a while and I did participate in one of the Master’s defense and a few Physics talks. After taking part in these events, I now have a clearer image of what will be coming to me for my graduate school few years later. Sometimes few of us in the department would go out for dinner gatherings and I will get introduced to dishes I have never seen before and they do taste incredible. I have also got to experience my first ever soccer match as an audience in the arena with Dr. Zlosnik at Polsat Arena Gdansk, a remarkable feeling to watch the players playing the match this close to my very eyes and be surrounded by the cheering from the fans.

Last but not least, the most precious memory that will always have a special place in my heart until the entropy of our universe reaches a maximum is the time with all the amazing friends I have made here. All of us come from different parts of the world and somehow all the eigenstates collapsed into this outcome that we are able to meet together in this one spot in this moment. We have done a lot of stuff that is too long to be all written here. Weekly Friday night gathering, going to escape rooms, speedrunning the entire Harry Potter movie series in a month, wrestling in the snow and having snowball fight whenever someone squats down. We went from Gdansk (North part of Poland) all the way to Zakopane (South part of Poland), hiking, snowboarding and skiing, campfire with sausages and cheese, and many more that are too long to be fitted in here. Borrowing a quote from some yellow bear, “We didn’t realize we were making memories; we just knew we were having fun.”- Winnie the Pooh.

This semester has been the greatest and the happiest one for me in my entire university life being a Physics student. I am very grateful to everyone who has made it possible for me to come here for my internship/ undergraduate research II. 

Best Wishes and Happy New Year,

Yu Xuan

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