November Rain

Whoever told me that november is the rainiest month was sadly right. Sunny days have become increasingly rare, and while a rainy saturday is conducive to catching up the sleep that I lost over the week, traveling to school in rain and wind with a broken umbrella is just not cool at all. I don’t think I’m going to buy a pair of rain boots afterall. One because it’s expensive, and two the month is already 1/3 gone, and three I might not be coming back, in which case I already have more than I can possibly bring back with me on the plane.

Speaking of which, I’m still waiting for replies from the pre-law dean, the financial aid office, and anyone else who has a piece of (reliable) advice to offer in regards to withdrawing from studying abroad early and its impact on law school admission. I need to make the decision by this weekend, at the latest. 

Meanwhile, I’m hoping to switch out of that economic analysis class and sign up for the philosophy of economics one instead. Two reasons: the tutorial/class for econ analysis, which is mandatory, is an utter waste of my time, and I never really learn how to do the problem sets anyways, so there’s no point in torturing myself further with them. Hopefully this will also be sorted out by the end of this week, preferably before Friday.

All in all, it’s gonna be a fun week dealing with the administrations and bureacracy of both schools and waiting around for emails that will hopefully come soon. 

I’ll be leaving for Cumberland Lodge on friday afternoon for the weekend. The itinerary sounds pretty good and the lecture series seem exciting. Looking forward to living in an ex-royal residence. Here’s to more photo-ops, fun philosophy talks, and living in a room without a lock. I might even venture out into the nearby woods, depending on the weather. Thank god there’s wireless.

Finally!

This summer has been the longest break I’ve ever taken from school ever since I was…2. I have never been away from academia for this long ever since I started school. Maybe it was because of the five months of absence that really made my heart grow founder, but today was arguably the best first day of school I have ever had. It was just amazing.

Philosophy of social sciences is simply the combination of all my academic passions rolled into one class. As I sat through the introduction of the class, I found myself falling more and more in love with it. Every topic gripped my uttermost attention. All the quotes, the philosophers, the ideas, they were everything I have thought of, questioned, and wondered for half of my life…and I’m finally going to study them in more depths now. I can’t very well summarize everything that went on today…but here’s a brief description of the class from our syllabus:

“This course aims to develop an understanding of the nature of society and of our knowledge of it, through philosophical examination of the social sciences and through the integration of philosophical and social scientific theory. You should complete this course with a knowledge of central debates concerning the forms of social scientific explanation, the nature of social entities and events, the nature of human action and the forms of our knowledge of its causes and motivations, and the scope and limits of scientific knowledge of society. You should also have learnt, or have sharpened your ability, to analyse the conceptual and normative presuppositions of both social scientific theory and method and of particular arguments made by social scientists.”

This doesn’t even come close to the awesomeness of the class. But it’s the best i can do for now.

My other lecture today was Advanced economic analysis. This class is basically the reason why I fell in love with economics three years ago, and the purpose of putting myself through all those gruelling core classes at Duke. This is what I slaved away doing Consumer theories, producer theories, econometrics, and all the other painful stuff in econ 55, 105, 110, and 139 for. In a nutshell, I’m actually going to use what I have learned to study the more complex models used right now by economists and how they are used in current economic research. The course covers four main topics: behavioral economics, economic growth, experimental economics, and monetary policies. It’s a good coverage of both macro and micro, and most importantly, it actually deals with what economists actually do right now and what the field is really about.

Unfortunately I won’t have another lecture until Thursday…but I’m definitely looking forward to other two classes: History of Economics (covering 250 years, from 17th century merchantilist theory to 20th century neoclassical theories. I have no idea what they are, but that’s why I’m in the class.), and Problems in Analystic Philosophy (also don’t have much idea about this one, but once again, that’s why I want to find out).

Sleepless in London

It’s another night when Halley inconveniently wakes up past midnight and is unable to fall asleep again until sunrise. Being sick doesn’t help, because now I have more reasons to wake up (i.e. can’t breathe, etc…). Except sleep deprivation is probably not going to help me recover. So…vicious cycle. Hopefully it will end this weekend, because then I will have really stuff to do – as in, classes are finally starting! Yay! (I know I won’t feel this way in a week…but just allow me to fantasize for a moment, k?)

Now onto more exciting things than my unfortunate sleeping patterns and sickness…LONDON and LSE. Well London is pretty much what they tell you…and more. It’s a gigantic city, HUGE. I will be going on a few tours of the city and doing some sightseeing this weekend, and will prob. make serious efforts to see at least one new site every weekend. At that rate, I just might cover the entire city before next summer. Maybe.

And what about LSE? Well, like I’ve told some of you, it’s kinda like Duke + city.

Similarities/Equivalents

  • obsession w/ finance. So Duke minus the premeds and the engineers. 
  • Inferiority complex that comes from being rejected by more prestigious and older schools (Oxbridge vs. hyps)
  • career fair = career fair. both dukies and lse-ers take this beyond seriously. it’s like their fifth class, or more.
  • “work hard, play hard” if I hear that phrase one more time, I might just scream.
Dissimilarities
  • I have to pay for everything here: buses, gym, clubs (yes, I paid 10 pounds to join the badminton club.), printing&copying, etc…
  • 50% international undergrads, 70% overall, 50% asians (most of them singaporeans and malaysians). 
  • dorm is 30min walking distance away from school.
  • there’s no campus…it’s a claustrophobic cluster of buildings and too many people and not enough space. But at least the buildings are close together, which minimizes walking XD.
There’s more that I’ll prob. mention in future posts, but those are the main points for now. So I’m settling alright, minus the problems that I mentioned at the beginning. My heater has finally been fixed, so I’m not freezing in my room anymore. But I think I lost my resident-card…which might be a problem, cuz I’ll need it for breakfast tom. 
Current class selection (it might change in the next month or so…but I’m 90% set on these)
  1. Advanced Economic Analysis
  2. History of Economics: How theories change
  3. Philosophy of Social Sciences
  4. Problems in Analytical philosophy

Arriving in London

a quick note before I crash for the night…

The plane ride was shorter than expected, thanks to a helpful tailwind. Got to Heathrow at around 6:20am, local time, and took a train to central london. Made the mistake of paying 10 extra pounds for a non-stop train when there was a slower, but much cheaper one. Oh well. I had a fun time (by fun, i actually mean quite painful, literally) getting all my luggage around the train station. Had the misfortune of getting a grumpy, ill-humoured old man as my taxi driver. The ride from the station to my dorm took another 10 pounds. 

Commonwealth Hall, where I’m staying, is a decent looking dorm. Better than most of the old west campus dorms, but certainly not as nice as Keohane. My room is…the size of your typical claustrophic single rooms in jarvis, or at Few. But it’s a single, so that’s good. So far the worst thing I’ve encountered here, aside from the not so appetizing English food, is the utterly inexplicable shower system. So basically it’s a little nob that you have to press every minute to keep the water flowing, I’m not exagerrating. Either I’m really stupid and haven’t figured out a better way to work this thing, or whoever designed this piece of shit should have been hit over the head. 

In any case, I’m half unpacked because I’m in desperate need of hangers. So shopping tomorrow morning, and then I’m heading to LSE in the afternoon for our exciting induction. Not really. The important part is I’ll finally see the school. The rest of my week consists of more meetings, inductions, parties, basically a repeat of freshman orientation. Woohoo.

Oh, I also met some craaaazy people here. Just imagine…a dorm with a larger percentage of asians than Duke. Scary, I know.

Leaving, again.

So once again, I gotta pack up and hop on another plane for a couple of hours. Leaving home once again (though that concept has become increasingly blurred lately) and back to exploring the new. People always seem disappointed when they don’t hear as much enthusiasm in my voice when I talk about leaving as I should have, but I can’t help always feeling a tinge of sadness and apprehension. More often than not, I actually get a lot more excited once I’m there and settled in. I just suck at saying goodbyes, even though I’ve done it so many times.

By this Sunday morning (greenwich time), I’ll be back at the Heathrow airport and hopefully finding my way to my dorm without getting too lost. Tomorrow will be spent packing, going to the bank, buying a new suitcase, and studying the london tube map and such. Or maybe I’ll just put all that stuff in my carry-on bag and look over them on the plane. That’s prob. a good idea, since I won’t have much else to do for…8 hours. Good god, I hope there will be some good movies. At least I’m not flying to China. There are still a few matters of logistics waiting to be sorted out, but LSE people are being annoying and unresponsive. I guess at the worst, I’ll be bothering them in person next week. 

On a side note, the dollar needs to stop tanking, because when you need to tens of thousands of pounds in tuition and room&board, it gets personal.