My first experience with the educational services of the University Computer Centre
I have always had an affinity towards studying at Turmbau (B-Bau/ Rühlmann-Bau at Reichenhainerstraße 70). Ever since my best friend introduced me to the computer pools in the first year of my Bachelor’s, I have been enjoying the comfort of working on the fast and well-equipped university PCs. Apart from the PC pools, the examination office, several faculty offices and the ‘holy’ coffee vending machine, Turmbau is also home of one of the sections of the University Computer Centre URZ (Universitätsrechenzentrum). The centre is well-known to everyone who has a university account, and it used to be a popular spot for depositing money on your PaperCut printing account before the launching of new dedicated machines.Of course, the centre has not become less needed, as it has continued working on maintaining the university PCs and Internet, and providing numerous other services. Each semester the University Computer Centre offers free IT courses in various areas: from programming with Python, to image editing with GIMP, to writing of research works with Word and LaTeX. The classes are usually instructed in German and the registration takes place on OPAL. I always used to pass by the posters with the offered courses, yet it was only last month that I decided to sign up for one of them: Programming with Python for beginners.
I know this is not the most widely applicable choice for an English major, yet after we were introduced to R and RStudio in our Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in my Linguistics seminar, I became interested in tools relevant for statistical modelling. The “beginner” level of the URZ course was also very attractive alongside the reassuring “no previous Python knowledge required” note. The two-day block course (4 teaching units) did not disappoint. As promised, it started from the very basics and gradually involved more complex operations. The lecturer, Mr Holger Trapp, provided us with a large number of course materials and reference websites. He gave detailed explanations, compared certain functions to other functions in Python and to other programming languages, and was always eager to assist students individually. Being instructed in German on the usage of certain software was a new experience for me, and it required some additional concentration, but the course structure and presentation made it easy to follow. In the end, I know that I will probably not become a professional Python programmer, yet the introductory course helped me to not fear the foreign language. It also helped me to not be afraid of the plain interface of the Linux terminal. Having studied mainly natural languages until now, it was interesting to see how a computer language syntax behaves. I left the “Programming with Python” course with a new perspective on logical thinking and some inspiration to try the numerous applications of Python on my own.
IT skills are essential, yet time-consuming to develop. The course selection by our university’s Computer Centre has the advantage of providing free interactive live instruction, which may not be the case for many online courses. It can give you a head start in some of the major software solutions and open great opportunities for your study and career.
Dare to explore!
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
(Master English & American Studies, 3rd semester)