Introducing: The VIP party! (Very Inflatable Party)
Yes, both of the following are true: It has been over a month since I updated this AND I now have pictures of students partying to present to you. This can mean but one thing: The quarter is over!
Three essays, 10 problems sets and 2 statistics exams down.
Here I am emerging from an obstacle course (inflatable) which was erected in my yard on Saturday night in celebration of my roommate’s birthday and the end of the quarter.
As we dwell on this image of me being born of a yellow, red and blue inflatable, let me suggest to you that it may be thought of as a metaphor for the last 10 weeks:
I entered not knowing what I would encounter along the way, and somehow made it to the other side bearing some minor abrasions, but otherwise unscathed and quite amused.
(The metaphor also applies in the sense that in both cases drinking beer makes it harder to find the way through).
As for my classes, as I mentioned before, I cannot say enough good things about my international political economy class with Professor Rachel Epstein. It was challenging and intellectually stimulating in all the right ways. My final papers involved critiques of the Milton Friedman’s positivist epistemology, with reference to the mountains of readings we covered in the class on international monetary relations, international finance, comparative political economy and methods of inquiry in the social sciences, and a discussion of the tools of adjustment states have or have not had access to since World War 2 when faced with the need to mitigate a downturn or economic shock. Whilst stressful, because the readings were at times very academic/abstract, I really enjoyed writing on these topics and learning about these issues that are so relevant to the kind of turbulence we are seeing in our world today.
Mark Ever’s Economic Fundamentals class comes in second place. It’s basically a crash course in micro and macro economics, which is something I have become acquainted with only tangentially through my work as a business reporter. It was nice to learn about the theories behind it all and get the sort of foundational knowledge that I can build on in my future classes such as international trade (which I am taking next quarter), economic development and international monetary relations. It was also a warm up of my long-latent math skills, and while some of the problem sets did cause me some issues on several frustrated Sundays, I feel that overall I was able to handle the demands of the course reasonably well, which was reassuring given my initial paranoia about my lack of recent mathematical experience.
Mark is a really approachable, funny, guy too, which made the class a whole lot more enjoyable than it may have otherwise been, given the dryness of the topics involved at this level.
And finally: Statistics. Patting myself on the back while I type this would be hard, so I am just going to have you imagine it for now, because that is what I feel like doing. My advice to anyone taking statistics who has not taken it before, or who doubts their ability to handle this class: Don’t be too proud to carry a Statistics for Dummies book with you to the library or a coffee shop. I basically taught myself statistics using this. And the grades say… it worked! Still wrapping my head around that one…
Meanwhile I’ve met a slew of fantastic, fun, interesting and worldly people here who have made this quarter so much more than just an academic challenge. It’s such a rarity to be surrounded by so many people at one time who are interested in all the same sort of issues that I am. We are also a remarkably cohesive social group – thanks in large part, I think, to a Facebook group for the Korbel Class of 2013 that Admissions Director Brad Miller invited us to long before we ever arrived. Want to go for a drink at the bar? Post about it on the page and at least 5 friends will show up. Want to go hiking on the weekend? You’ll have a crew together in minutes. Feel like a trip to an all-you-can-eat-sushi-restaurant or a cheese festival? Yeah, we’ll do that too. It’s really been an amazing tool. Not to mention an incredible outlet / distraction during finals when we basically used it for emotional support/solidarity/procrastination purposes. But by and large, I would say it’s been a great thing. So thanks Brad Miller and/or Nicole Vilegi (asst. director of admissions at Korbel)…you’ve kinda revolutionized the Grad School Experience.
Now it’s the start of a quite absurdly long winter interterm break (back on January 3). Plans tentatively include: Attempting to ski / snowboard for the first time (I ❤ health insurance); filling in internship applications; reading books just ‘cause; working at the Chamber of the Americas. In the meantime, I will be heading down to Mexico City, where I am going on a 2 week mission across the south eastern half of the country.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section and I’ll try to get back to you ASAP.