Monday, June 23, 2014

Understanding A Nation's Economy: Macroeconomics

Bio-Medical Center
I woke up this morning at 7 AM reluctant but happy knowing that the program was starting and that I was on my way to learning about a topic I was very interested in. Brandon, Arnold, and Jing wanted to leave for breakfast at 8 and I knew that if I didn't go then I would probably never make it. I really needed to make good use of my gym membership as well because it was tres cher. After a hearty breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, boiled eggs, a banana, and milk we decided to head off for the Biotechnology class that Brandon, Arnold, and Jing are all taking. They were in the Bio-Center, which is at the top of campus (opposite of where our dorms are), and actually only 2 blocks away from the Nelson Fitness Center.

I dropped 'em off at class and headed over to the Nelson Fitness Center. It was one of the nicest gyms I've ever seen and I only saw one floor. You can look on the Brown website if you want to see the exact specifics but this building was massive and had some of the nicest workout machines and free weight collections that I've ever seen. Not to mention the fact that about every 4 feet was a 40" flat screen so that you could watch TV whilst you were working out. I only ran for about 40 minutes and then lifted for about 20 but I saw Zack from my cluster there along with one of his friends San Diego, where he's from.

Lunch line at the Rattie (Sharpe Refactory)
Having family in San Diego we realized that we both had something in common and I decided to hang out with them for the next few hours. After finishing working out we walked back down to campus and picked up our Bear Bucks Cards with which we're able to do laundry, print, and buy things from the assorted vending machines around campus. We then walked back to our dorms to shower, get changed, and get ready for lunch. Zack, Brian (his friend from SD), and I headed to lunch around 11:45 as we all had 12:45 classes and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to eat and get to our classes. At lunch I met even more people from San Diego (about 6), and a guy who was actually from Oakland, CA and went to Marin Academy, where I have a few friends. I left at around 12:20 though to make sure I had enough time to get to the building and find the class, which I actually had a bit of a problem with once I got there.

My course is in the Smith-Buonnano building in room G12. It's a relatively small building with each class being about the size of two or three of my room. I didn't actually have the time to measure it out with my feet, which is how I measured the dorm room, but if I had to estimate I'd say it was around 20x30 feet? I'm not very good at this but we have around 24-28 people in the class and it doesn't feel cramped at all so it must be pretty big. Our professor, Desislava Byanova, a graduate student with a Ph.D in Economics was leading the course with the help of her German TA Simon Freyaldenhoven. It started right on time at 12:45 PM and we were on our way to becoming masters of Economics.

The course covers a ton of different public policy issues which really helps to give insight into debates and why certain economies are stable while others fluctuate constantly. Macroeconomics is really just the stuff that you see on the news constantly such as inflation, unemployment, economic growth, recessions, exchange rates, interest rates, budget deficits and trade deficits (Macroeconomics course syllabus). It focuses on the larger things and for this reason it plays a larger role in the main problems of today and has so many practical uses because of that. It is taught as an AP class and Desi says that we should be able to take the AP Macroeconomics test once we're done so I'm really looking forward to learning all I can. We went over a lot of the basic principles of economics today including Opportunity Cost, Incentives, Comparative & Absolute Advantage, Efficiency Vs. Equity, and Trade-Offs. This was the first day and I'm already having a tough time memorizing all these different key words. It's been fairly straightforward so far though so I can't wait until we get into the more abstract and subtle differences that cause massive changes in the market.

Arnold & Jing attempt to work the washing machines
Class ended promptly at 3:45 as I think that 3 hours straight in a classroom with few windows can give you some type of cabin fever. It turns out that we needed a textbook for class that nobody knew about so I met Alana at the Bookstore at 4 to pick it up. Kevin was supposed to be there as well but he decided to take a nap and I brought his book to him later. Instead of working on homework immediately like I should have I decided that it was probably a good time to do laundry. Arnold, Brandon, Jing and I got together and headed down to the basement to get it going. It took us awhile to figure out how to start up the machine, let alone how much laundry detergent to use but we got the hang of it and decided to go to the critically acclaimed (by past ILCers), FroYo World in the meantime. We headed back after about a half an hour to wait the remaining few minutes on the washer and then pop 'em in the dryer. The dryer took an hour so we decided to go to dinner in the meantime.

Caleb, Eric, & I in the quad
Dinner went fairly quickly and before we knew it we were back at our dorms, gathering in our clusters to take part in a group activity that our RA had planned for us at 8 PM. He wanted to do a sporting event but we didn't have a frisbee so Joe and Hector went to City Sports to pick up one. It took them about a half hour for some reason and so by the time they got back, we finished playing, and got back to the dorms it was 10. Caleb, a rising senior from Ohio, and I then decided to work on our homework outside in the middle of the quad and after about 35 minutes we decided to pack it up and just talk and meet new people until curfew at 11. And that's exactly what we did as we actually met a large number of people who were staying in our hall. At 11 though we had to get into our rooms so after some short goodbyes and exchanging of numbers and Snapchats we filed through our doors and locked 'em for the last time that night. This has now been a long, yet fun day and I don't expect anything less for tomorrow. Gotta get that beauty sleep now though! Jusqu'a a la prochaine fois!
Group picture of everyone hanging out in the quad

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