Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Boston day two, three, and four: seminars and togas

The last few days have been great, I have learned a lot, and I have not gotten much sleep. There are three points that summarize some of what I have learned so far, and they are as follows: 1) I have found that economics is infinitely more complicated than I had imagined, 2) I know infinitely less than I thought I knew, 3) the more I know the less I understand. These three truths cause me a great deal of intellectual pain the last few days as I have conversed, debated, and laughed with people my age from around the world. I spoke with a guy from Mexico City about immigration, I debated the pros and cons of a free-market system with a girl from Nepal, I picked the brain of a Harvard student and I got into a heated debate with a Russian over the role of eggs in a breakfast meal. The level of intellect on this campus really is amazingly high, and I find myself way out of my league yet enjoying every minute of it. I am learning more than I thought I would, and at a much faster rate than my brain can process so I am constantly referring to my notes and trying to master the language of economics.

Time is flying by here as there is so much to do and see and think about. It has been frusterating to me because it really does seem as though the more I know about free-market principles, profits and losses, incentives, and a variety of other economic related material, I find it difficult to understand what the right thing to do is. The more I learn about this stuff, the more I realize that the world is a complex web of ideas, each of which might hold some validity, and I feel less and less qualified to make the distinction between a good and bad idea. One obviously good thing that this time has given me is the opportunity to think, talk, and discuss deeply with other really smart people. Everyone should have this type of thing. It is constantly challenging everything I know, and forcing me to defend it daily.

Well, aside from all the academic thinking that has gone on here, there has been a bit of fun. My friend Joe and I were sitting at the social last night talking about what kind of fun things we could do today on our free day. He suggested that he and I rent bikes at a shop he had found so that we could tour Boston in a quick and fun way; I completely agreed, and, only half seriously, suggested that we do it while wearing togas. Joe loved the idea and the two of us were quickly devising a plan for the next day and how we would ride our bikes while wearing togas all day and all over Boston. Well, today we spent seven straight hours touring Boston on bikes, stopping traffic, getting honks, waves, yells, laughs, and everything in between. You see, our idea caught on and by the time we were ready to go, we had a group of 14 international students wearing togas and sitting on bikes.

A few highlights: stopping at Harvard school of law to get information and talk up my name...I may have been the first person ever to wear a toga in the ancient halls of Harvard, and hopefully the last. Completely stopping two lanes of traffic while 14 toga sporting bikers rode accross the stree to honks and plenty of obscene gestures. Riding along the Charles river at night and seeing the city, lit up in all its glory and set against a starry sky, cool wind singing a song of peace. Laughing with people from accross the world, all of whom, despite our differences, can appreciate the humor of riding through Boston in togas.

Here are a few pictures:

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