Lima’s class is a security you have to put a lot of money down for today, but will pay a lot of dividends in the future. And like all investments, don’t take Lima’s class unless you know what you are getting into.
But is it worth it? Dollar for dollar, nothing teaches you like Lima’s lectures. But if getting a 3.9+ so you can get past J.P. Morgan’s round 1 screening, this probably isn’t the class for you. This is what I love about Lima’s class: it is education at its purest: the rewards are not in the GPA, but actually becoming better at economics. My friend SL argues that there are two types of economics majors: real econ majors, and fake econ majors. Real econ majors study economics for the sake of the utility gained from studying the subject itself, whilst fake econ majors study economics so it can be used as a tool for alternative purposes. This is one of those classes where fake econ majors fall apart.
In fact, one of my friends fell apart close to the finals. Now, breaking down and crying around campus happens all the time at the University of Chicago, but I would say it is especially apparent in Lima’s class. He just couldn’t take it anymore, and thought it wasn’t worth the ridiculous amounts of effort (not that there aren’t harder classes).
My finals week was filled with bottles and models. For some reason, I stay up better after drinking beer, so I slowly worked through all the models and problems in Lima’s notes while tasting Blue Moon’s winter sampler (highly recommended). The combination of both alcohol and economic overload soon blurred the boundaries of day and night. Throw in an odd sleeping schedule (around two hours at a time, spread over the day), and economics started blending into my life.
Lima had an infamous true/false/uncertain section. Essentially, you determine if a statement is true/false/uncertain, and provide justification. This would be easy, if Tian Yuan weren’t harshly regulating the quality of responses. Each flawed answer it shot down with antagonistic red marks, while wrong answers are indifferently treated with nothing more than a “0”. Luckily, Lima left us this piece of advice: “talk about TFU questions over dinner. Write out equations and discuss them on a paper napkin, and soon, you will be good.” This was very effective advice indeed. Discussing TFU questions over dinner (though frequently turning my dinner companions hostile) improved my TFU performance on practice problems from terrible to below average.
Then, there was the Battle of Stalingrad. As the Chicago winter slowly creeped upon us, Lima’s army assaulted us on the high ground. Here’s part of the final that I’m going to post despite Lima telling me not to because you have to see it to understand what I’m talking about in terms of epic proportions:
It was an attack from all sides. You think you have the advantage in numbers, but no. Apart from fighting the winter that was slowly setting in, there was a wide variety of cruel surprises waiting around every corner. It didn’t feel bad at first, as the scare from the first encountered prompted much more preparation this time. But the salvo of artillery fire never stopped. Soon, it started wearing on you. It was hard to hop from page to page. There was resistance at every corner. And no matter how fast and how hard you worked, they just kept on streaming in.
Like the Russians fending off the Nazis, salvation came slowly and steadily. Time was working against us, but also against the commander eying the battlefield. As the two hour siege ends, few stand, but it was over. The commander withdrew his army, and we were once again free beings. There was a brief moment of silence, then cheers of victory. It was over.
Unlike actual warfare, though, this was a somewhat enjoyable type of war. You don’t just learn how to do economics in this class, but how to be a man and fight. Lima and Tian challenge your wits and instincts; instincts that are needed for a large part of a UChicago student’s career. I didn’t get the best grade ever, but I thought it was worth it. It gave me the experience of being in a war I know I will lose, and still surviving till the end. It taught me how to fight against the powerful force of economics.