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Friday, July 8th 2005

6:47 PM

Me, after six months.

Months have passed and my silence has worried some of my previous readers. I know I don't have any now, but I still felt like writing today. Today I received a communication from my college in Colombia. They were asking for funds to help support the department and give a scholarship to students in financial need.

I know my college has definitely contributed to define who I am, not only because of the technical knowledge I now have about economics, but because of the experiences and people that I met during my college years. And I should say I'm thankful for that.

When I came back from London, I wanted to contribute to it with my newly acquired skills and knowledge, with my devotion to teaching and to my students. I thought they would appreciate that, since I graduated top of my class and was kind of known in the community. I had even been tutor twice and T.A once, with top grades from my students. But I was wrong.

They said that they had raised the standards so they were no longer taking MSc as lecturers, only Ph.D, so I was offered a T.A position. The Ph.D story was partly true, because CLASSMATES of mine, with LOCAL MSc were teaching the core courses in the faculty. They said I should try next term sending them a optional course sillabus, if they considered it was good enough I might get lucky.

Extremely disappointed, I left, and immediately found a lectureship in Intermediate Microeconomics in another university. It is not the top one because my college is the top one, but one of the top 5. This people didn't know who I was but for what was written on my CV, they didn't know about me as a person or as a student like they did at college. And they took me and have really made me feel I'm valuable to them.

Months later, I found out I had just missed a selection process for young lecturers at college.  Still, I offered myself again to teach this term, and well... I haven't heard from them. And they didn't even think of me. (Why would they?)

So I'm not giving them money. I gave myself entirely and they rejected me. So that was that: when I left home this morning I slowly tore apart the letter... still thinking what am I supposed to do with my life.


Is your college supportive enough after you've graduated? Or is it just this one?

Just a time-out from this Ecs vs Others match.

371 among the flock / Feel like clapping your wings?

Friday, December 31st 2004

2:49 PM

The results have arrived with a new-year resolution

Yes. I have finally officially graduated from the MSc in Economics. Yesterday the results arrived. I was expecting some sort of diploma, not just the grades. But anyways, right from the start this Masters proved to be completely different from what I had expected. And it continued to be like that all the way to the end.

My dissertation wasn’t as good as I expected. During these months I have thought several times about the many ways I could have improved it, especially by adding several tests I could have run to make my results a bit stronger. Even if I was satisfied with the results, when I handed it in, little by little this confidence faded. However there still was this tiny bit of hope that I would get a distinction for it, that at the very end, I would prove them that I was good enough for the challenge. Well, just another false hope.

I have had a lot of time to think about this whole experience and I must accept I have not completely recovered. Isn’t it taking way too long for me to heal? During these days I have made a balance about this and I feel weakened, totally drained. The whole process was a very painful way of coming to terms with adulthood, and leaving behind all my past traumas. Every single experience related to the Masters is connected with something in my past, with some dark spot of my personality.

Because of the deepness of these feelings, this weakness and sadness has permeated to every single facet of my life, and it has affected me right to the core. There was a moment I could not face my friends regarding my results, I am now unsure about economics, and my whole career future seems blurry. My boyfriend has told me he’s kind of tired of coping with someone as depressive as me, and I do not longer feel sure about my new job… don’t seem to like it enough, because sometimes it feels more like I’m the “Executive Assistant” of my boss than a proper researcher.

I stick to my view that this MSc was a disaster and the worst mistake of my life. At first, I had thought it was only an “academic mistake”, but it has brought more bad things than good things to my life as a whole. I completely regret pursuing it. What has changed is that I’m tired of being sad, I’m tired of not being able to see the good things of my life, especially now that I’m about to lose the only thing that used to brighten it. I must get over this. Somehow.

This is my only new-year resolution.





476 among the flock / Feel like clapping your wings?

Monday, December 20th 2004

9:00 PM

Supply and demand of lecturers... in Colombia




Last week I was revising the problem of the limited horizons of research in Colombia. I was discussing this with my boyfriend (also an economist) and he suggested there is one simple reason for this: THERE IS NO MONEY FOR MORE. Given that there is a limited amount of resources, these are generally concentrated on the urgent needs of a diagnosis of a certain situation, so there is no support for more theoretical studies. The result? Colombian economists are hardly ever considerably contributing to the economic science.


For some people this seems to be an obvious truth.


This truth hit me when I was told the salary I was going to receive for the lectures I intend to give in an university. It seems that despite my experience as a tutor for two years, one here in Colombia and another in London, and my previous teaching assistant position during summer term in my previous university, my salary will be at the lower end of the rank: between 4 to 5₤ per hour, plus the legal requirements of health and pensions. This is a bit less than what I actually make per hour by giving private tutoring. To be profitable, one ought to lecture eight hours per day five days a week at the lower rate… and that is kind of impossible, even for Colombian standards.


As my readers, you already know that I’m not pursuing an academic career because of money. It’s actually quite the opposite. In this case I wanted to go up on the academic ladder, from teaching assistant to lecturer, trying to stick to a good institution. Considering this is just a secondary job, it is not that I desperately need the money; I’m doing this out of pleasure. But it still is a shock.


I don’t want to think this is an issue of lack of acknowledgment of my capabilities and previous experience, I think this is just another way the lack of funding limits the academic career. As every price in an economy, the salary is one of the equilibrium variables between supply and demand. Considering this is an underdeveloped country where there aren’t many highly skilled professionals, in this case, therefore, the problem is not a limited supply but a restricted demand for lecturers. These low salaries generate, according to my view, a vicious circle because the opportunity cost of well-prepared lecturers is too high to make the academic career appealing to them. As a consequence, not only the quality of education continues to be low, but a suboptimal proportion of economists take the decision of pursuing postgraduate education so they can devote themselves to teaching.


Any solution to the problem? Your views? I’m always happy to read you.






44 among the flock / Feel like clapping your wings?

Sunday, December 12th 2004

10:19 AM

Tag Board Off

After several weeks banning different IP addressess trying to control the flood of spam I was getting on my tagboard, I decided to turn it off, given that my host managers cannot help me control it either.

I am sorry for this, to all my readers and my occasional BlogExplosion visitors, you can leave a message saying you dropped by along the comments for any post, doesn't matter if it is not related.

Hope to hear from you soon!

374 among the flock / Feel like clapping your wings?

Saturday, December 11th 2004

11:46 AM

Economic Research in Colombia

One of the first things to do in any research is to revise previous literature on the subject. It's amazing to find hundreds of different perspectives on the subject I’m studying in the international reviews, there are actually a few studies doing cross-country comparisons that include Colombia in the calculations. The amount of studies is overwhelming, really.


But when I checked what had been done here about the topic I found nothing. I guess it’s because our country is facing so many different economic problems at the same time that there is virtually no time to study everything: in that sense most of the studies I found are more about the economic situation than about testing theories or developing new ones.


I believe it is very valuable to do such kind of research, because if we don’t know the extent of the problems we cannot actually work to solve them. What disappoints me is that studies stop there, they don’t go beyond some general policy recommendations about what should be done. It seems to me they lack a theoretical framework.


The good thing about this lack of studies is that there is so much to be done! There are many ways one can actually make a contribution, just by pooling several different theories and testing them all together. And that’s precisely what I’m planning to do at work. Isn’t that exciting?


I was wondering why there were no theoretical studies. I don’t know whether it is lack of an interest in economic theory in general, or perhaps lack of creativity to actually come up with a new theory, others would suggest is simple laziness. Another, devastating idea is that by the time a researcher is done with the analysis of the situation, there is no money or time to continue with the actual theoretical part.


Any ideas about why researchers concentrate on the general situation?


I’ll continue thinking about this. Next time I might come up with the opinions of some colleagues. But I’d like to hear yours!

355 among the flock / Feel like clapping your wings?