Roundup from the first week of school

30Aug06

First off, I pretty much love it. It’s very difficult already, and it’s only going to get worse. But I think it will be worth it. My program has a dual focus: economics and public policy. In order to learn economics, you must first begin by learning the technical and somewhat foreign mathematical tools required to understand and apply economic analysis. As a consequence, the first few years (I think) are less about application and more about understanding basic theory. Fortunately, I’m also in the public policy school, which concerns itself with policy and social applications much sooner. So in the mornings we discuss policy issues and the process of undertaking social research, and in the afternoons we learn math, math and more math. But at least there’s a balance.

I’m taking an easier econometrics sequence and sitting in on the more intense one, so I’ll hopefully have the dual benefit of a gentle introduction to the real stuff along with some exposure to the more hardcore material. I’ve also got a mathematics background course which, according to the instructor, is going to get a little “nasty.” Microeconomics has already gotten substantially nasty, delving into topics in linear algebra that were considered too advanced to really touch on in depth in the undergraduate courses that I’ve taken. Fortunately, though I’m not familiar with the specific material, my mathematics background has been sufficient ot prepare me for this mode of learning (quickly learning material from definitions and theorems and figuring out how it all patches together). Maybe I’ll eat those words later on, we’ll see.

Socially, the PhD students are all nice and the faculty are knowledgable and helpful, if sometimes intimidating. I really like my cohort and I hope that everyone stays on in the program.

I’m still waiting on my office assignment(s) and a few other administrative things, but besides a general lack of sleep, I’m happy. (Though not at the moment, because I ate too much Indian food a bit earier, but that will go away.)

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