>> Friday, March 28, 2003

This Tuesday I got an e-mail from my university with the great news that I've been accepted for the post of professor's assistant I'd applied to. There'll be 2 of us, and we'll be in charge of the exercises class for Microeconomics II.

I don't know if it works like this in other universities, but here, for many subjects, you get both theory and practice classes, and in the latter you solve exercises based on what you are learning in the former. These classes are optional... that is, the students are supposed to try to solve the exercises they are assigned themselves, and in the practice classes we go over the ones they've had difficulties with. If they've had no trouble, they don't need to attend. We'll be working with our future colleagues, who are now in their second year of college.

Now for the bad part: I'll have to be at the university every Saturday morning at 8, and I'm not getting paid, not even the bus fare. Still, it'll look pretty good on my CV, something I'll need when I make my applications to go study abroad.

So far, Mica (the othe girl I mentioned) and I have only been attending the theory classes, to see what they are learning and how, so that we know how to explain things when the time comes. We'll be going over the assigned exercises with the professor beforehand, but still, we wouldn't want to explain things with graphs when they'd learned how to explain them analytically, and vice-versa.

After two classes, I just know what they'll be having trouble with. I have a feeling I'll be visiting with my old friends Slutsky and Hicks and their decomposition of the total effect of a change in prices into income and substitution effects, for at least a couple of classes. Not that it wasn't taught right, the professor's really good, but this is a difficult subject to grasp at first. The maths are pretty simple, but you have to have a good understanding of the subject itself to know what to do.

I think I should be more nervous than I am about this: facing a room full of kids (some of them older than I am!) asking pointed questions about a class I took back in 1998. However, after my stint as a tour guide, I pretty much have 0 stage fear. I've never written about this, have I? It was right after high school. A girl I knew told me about how the people who organized the city tours for the tourists who arrived in cruise ships were looking for people capable of maintaining a running monologue in English for 3 or 4 hours.

There aren't many of us around (most people learn English here, but they usually get only to the level of ability necessary to maybe read a newspaper in English), so they "hired" me. All completely illegal, of course. I'd just show up on the day of the tour (there were about 4 or 5 a month, during our summer), and afterwards they'd pay me cash, no social security or anything. I must say, with the tips, I was making about twice what I'm making now, and I worked a quarter of the hours I'm working now.

The first time was awfully nerveracking, but I winged it and I did ok. After that, it was pure fun. I just loved the people I met, mostly retirees from the US. I sincerely hope to have half their energy when I'm their age.


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