I took a leave of absence in the spring quarter, in order to focus on my graduate research. So from March to June I stayed put, and averaged 38 hours per week of productive math – on a beach in Thailand. Distractions were few. Wireless internet (yes, on the beach) allowed me to stay in touch, and video-chat with my advisor occasionally.
I’m sharing/bragging because you, too, can conduct a “Solo Math Intensive,” almost anywhere in the world! I wrote up a fun two-page How To guide, which has tips and info. For example, finances: a Thai beach bungalow with attached bath will run you $6/night, and flights aren’t as much as you think; if I had sublet my Seattle room for the three months, the whole trip would’ve ended up leaving me with a net savings. Advisor meetings: there are several good, free online conference services that allow you to video-chat while screen-sharing.
Getting five bars of wireless internet while sitting in the sand, or scribbling in my notebooks at an open-air restaurant watching the sunset, sure beat the basement office life. As mathematicians, a lot of us can do our work almost anywhere. Take advantage of it! If you’re curious, check out my little How To guide, or email me questions. If you need more encouragement, I made a short video while there, that gives a bird’s-eye view of how beautiful the mathematical life can be.