Foreign Thoughts (Feb 7-11)

This week has been fairly laid back and focused mainly on school. In fact I experienced one of the greatest lectures of my educational life on Thursday when a Russian scholar named Anastasia (last name here) taught us about the global financial crisis. (She has written two books on the subject so she knows her stuff)

See, I like school and I like learning but when I’m in class, its more of a passive experience. The teacher talks, I take a few notes and try to not daydream or fall asleep. This was the first lecture in quite some time, where not only was I absorbing everything in easily, I was enthralled by what I was being taught. Our teacher went step by step, from the 70’s to today on why exactly the financial crisis happened. I learned something. Literally. I can tell you exactly why financial markets exist today and how they are a direct consequence of former president Nixon taking the U.S. off of the gold standard. I can tell you exactly why Alan Greenspan believed the marketization of finances was good. I can tell you exactly why banks changed from a service industry to a greedy money making industry. I now what sub-prime means, unlike 90 percent of the country. In other words, I actually learned something. It’s not every day you can say that. Now, that is not to say my other classes have been bad. They are average or above average. It’s just that this was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so thankful I got to experience it.

A few more nuggets from themes that have been developing in my classes up to this point.

-The U.S. comes up in every single discussion about every single topic. Politics, journalism, news, photography. It is uncanny the real impact and influence the United States has across the world and I am getting to experience it first hand.

-That is not to say everything being said about America is good. In fact, at the mere mention of George W. Bush people begin to either laugh or get angry. He is literally seen as an idiot in this country (with good reason, imo). I was glad to see that even though people in the U.S. are forgetting who put the world in the mess its in now, across the globe, they remember very well. Not just the British either, Greek, Italian, Swiss, German, Indonesian, Arabic and French students all hold the same opinion. (Don’t get me started on Fox News. One of my professors in my politics class uses it as a reference point of what lack of education does to us.)

-There is a lot of onus on self-teaching. The lectures are supposed to be a broad overview and they expect us to fill in the details with our own research and readings. I’m not sure I quite like that though.

-I only have six weeks of classes left. Time has flown by.

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