HeyMath! Consultant: Edward
If I had to sum up my experience of living in Chennai and working for HeyMath! for the past 4 months in three words I'd use: different, challenging, fun.
Working for HeyMath! is very different from studying mathematics at Cambridge. The maths is of a very different level (obviously) and the work is much more stimulating and creative than the average 9am lecture (fortunately).
The work is very challenging. I've been stretched to the edge of my ability in several projects, including: devising an algorithm for setting puzzles, thinking of yet another example of a linear model that is appealing to American high school students ...
The work is fun. Most of the time. Waking up on Monday morning and being really keen to get into the office to make some progress on a project has been a great, if novel, experience. There are two main reasons for the work being fun. Firstly the people in the office are all friendly and very talented. Secondly the work is varied, I have about 5 projects to work on at the moment, so no two days are the same.
Life in Chennai is different from life in England. Some of the differences are good. It is pleasant living in a tropical environment; it is convenient (and very affordable) eating out in restaurants for two meals a day and to have a lady who washes my clothes and cleans the (company provided) apartment three times a week. The salary is perfectly sufficient to live very comfortably in Chennai. Some of the differences are not good. It is moderately expensive to buy alcohol in Chennai and there are only a few bars; there is very evident poverty which is heart wrenching to see; the city is noisy and isn't clean in the way a Western city is.
Life in Chennai is challenging. It requires serious effort to meet people and make friends, it takes time to overcome cultural differences and really get to know people. My life is quieter than it would be in England, partly that is an active choice on my part. The climate sometimes stops being tropical paradise and becomes very hot and very wet (it's always quite hot but I've got used to it, 20°C now feels unbearably cold). Things are challenging just because they are different, trying to work out where to buy sewing thread took a long time just because the shops are different from shops in the UK (though most things can be found with perseverance and knowing who to ask).
Life is fun. I've made friends, seen amazing places, found a friendly Church where I feel comfortable and I've done things I've never done before. I came here with a flexible return flight to the UK (paid for by HeyMath!) and I'm still here after 4 months, that's the most convincing sales pitch I can make for the HeyMath! - Cambridge internship program.