I think great classes teach you more than what the syllabus promises. And Lima and Tian happened to be a dynamic duo that delivered on not just economics, but many other things as well. For those deciding whether this is the right course for them, I guess I’ll share my story in the class with you. For me, one thing this class did for me is that it gave me a reality check on just how difficult classes can get…
Victor Lima is the good cop in the story. He was born to be a teacher. His lectures are resourceful and inspiring, practical yet romantic. With his power of verbal communication in conjunction with his messy but clear board work, and impeccable responses to every single question you have. The implication of such an ideal professor, of course, is that he leaves you no excuse to perform poorly
Yuan Tian is the bad cop in the story. He’s harsh, get-things-down guy that gives it to you how it is. A bit too straightforward, but gets the job done as the bad cop in the neighborhood. Discipline of studying is reinforced, and blatant ignorance is quickly deflected by his indifferent attitude. You’ll stare in disbelief at some of his comments, but at the end of the day, you know you can’t talk back because he’s making you a better economist.
On day one, Professor Lima reminds you that it is a “turbo section” and that to be successful you have to “thoroughly understand the notes and do all the problems.”
The class starts off softly, with the lectures passing by without you feeling them. At the back of your mind, economic knowledge slowly accumulates, but you only feel the light pressure from understanding the tip of the ice burg. Of course, at the time, you don’t know its the tip of the ice burg.
Time flies by before the first mid-term. You hand in the problem sets, ace all of the problem sets, feel good that you know what you’re doing. Occasionally, you do some extra problems in the book, and make sure to read every chapter once. Life is good, starcraft 2 is played, parties are fully enjoyed, turbo economics seems like a bit more work than usual but definitely doable. Visit Tian from time to time with questions about some of the extra problems you’ve been doing, clarify some of the perplexing parts of the text, and you feel like the time you put in is paying off.
Then, as midterm week is about to come around, you decide to crank it up a notch, and look into some of those questions that say “donated by Derek Neal.” It feels like a full-speed crash into an iceberg; a crash that’s more painful than that in the titanic. Your smooth sailing ship suddenly feels so small relative to the large iceberg.
Thank god Lima not only plays the role of the good cop well, he reads his audience well. The looming threat is delayed by a week, and you feel like you have sufficient time to salvage most of your sinking ship. With survival instincts triggered, Lima note questions are done (with long hours of struggle).
Maybe you feel good about the midterm after all. You’re uncovering parts of the iceberg, and you know what force is required to fully break it. The equations, the graphs, the questions, you know how they work. With a slight bit of paranoia, you make sure you do all the Lima notes questions like Professor Lima recommended. Come game day, you are feeling pretty confident.
Then you realize as you crack open the midterm that it’s not an iceberg you are trying to break through. The midterm is actually more like walking through artillery fire while avoiding being locked onto by a machine gunner, with little to no cover. You know you’re going to die.