Posted by: yannaungoak | September 19, 2010


I was catching up with my old friends’ La Min‘s and Lin‘s blogs today, and got all nostalgic and felt like doing some blogging myself in an attempt to let the world know I’m still alive and well.

So, things have been rather dreary on the little tropical island. My classes at NUS have begun and it’s already halfway through the term! And man, I have been super busy of late. The thing is, I teach private tuition for O-level and A-level kids as a part-time gig, and I’ve quickly coming to realise that being a full-time grad student does not sit well with having to travel all over the island and do 20-odd hours of teaching a week. Plus, I have to tutor undergrad classes at NUS, and I also teach a volunteer English class on Saturdays. Yeah, so while I do thoroughly enjoy indulging in my passion for teaching, it’s definitely wearing me out. When I get home, 6 out of 7 days a week, it’s usually past midnight.

Well, complaining aside, what else is new? I’m going back to Yangon for a week! Leaving tomorrow (Sunday 19th Sep) and coming back next Sunday. It’s the mid-term break, so I get a week off school before the mid-terms exams start.

And about school itself? Hmm… where to start? First off, everyone except three people in my Master’s class are from China (the People’s Republic, to be more precise). The three being me, a Singaporean Chinese guy and a girl from India. But the entire cohort of graduate students in the economics department is only 18 students, counting both Masters and PhDs, so we do have relatively small class sizes, which is good. And at least for the first semester, Masters students and PhDs have to take the same classes, after that I can still keep taking the same classes as the PhDs, so there’s really no limit to how much torture I can impose on myself (it’s so exciting, serious).

As for the classes themselves, we have the standard four this semester, Micro, Macro, Math Econs, and Econometrics. And now the boring details… Micro is pretty standard, we pretty much go according to the biblical microeconomics textbook by Mas-Colell, Whinston and Green, and it’s being taught by two profs, the first half was by some big-shot visiting prof from Oxford. We’ve done choice, demand, production, and some general equilibrium up to now, but he went pretty fast and it’s all a bit of a blur. For Macro, we’re just doing some dynamic optimization and just finished overlapping generations models. But there’s no mid-term for Macro so I haven’t really kept up to speed with it. We’re not following any textbook for Macro but there’s some set of lecture notes by Per Krussell that the prof’s own lecture notes seem to be heavily based on. Later in the semester we’ll be using a lot of Romer’s Advanced Macroeconomics, and having read some of that book before, I have to say it gives a much clearer picture of the topic than the stuff we’ve been doing up to now. For Econometrics, we have a prof who’s fresh of the boat from doing his PhD and he seems to be a real nice guy. Goes really slow and makes sure everyone understands before moving to on. A great relief for me seeing as how my venturings into the land of probability and statistics in college did not go so well. And finally Math Econs, that’s the one I understand the most! The reason being that up to now we’ve only just covered the stuff you find in an undergrad real analysis class, and thankfully I had the privilege of taking real analysis in college from an awesome, awesome professor. I think in the second half of the semester we will being doing more advanced stuff from A First Course in Optimization Theory by Sundaram, so yeah, looking forward to that.

And for those of you people reading this who aren’t economist-types, lets just say by the end of the first semester, I would have forgotten all the interesting stuff about economics I learned in college and would have replaced them with a bunch of mathematical gobbledygook that I won’t really understand. Well, it’s the road I’ve chosen, and in time hope has it that such gambles might well pay off, so, onward we march.

I’ll report back when I come back from Myanmar, and hopefully things will settle down more. Although I fear the insanity will just escalate as the semester wears on, especially since my tutees are having the O-level and A-level exams in late October-November and they’d want me to come for extra classes, and I’m too nice to say “Well, can’t pass your exams? Too bad for ya”.

I really want to go back to the days when I had time to read, reflect, blog about intellectual things, all that good stuff, but that will have to wait.



  1. You should update your blog more!

  2. wah i didnt know singapore was so happening

  3. oops wrong post. i was referring to the concerts.
    although it’s probably pretty happening too @NUS

    macro textbook
    barro+sala-i-martin is another good and simple textbook to build intuition

    but for a real “introduction” to modern economic growth u wanna look at acemoglu. at the start of the year i couldn’t look at it but at the end i was somewhat more appreciative of it. although i would still say his overemphasis on rigour and completeness trades off too much clarity and intuition.

  4. Your life sounds very busy Fats. I have to admit that I totally skipped over the part where you talk about your Econ classes. I hope you have fun when you visit home. Lin is back there so you guys should have a good time. I’m going to be missing that.

  5. Okay, I totally didn’t read the dates. So I hope you had a good time on your visit and I will stop posting stupid post like the last one.

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