Site Meter

Thursday, January 27, 2005

My First Day at Work

In my undistinguished career as a professor of economics I have had the priviledge of meeting many brilliant students. I met two at my first lecture.

First let me set the scene by describing my commute. I was working at the European University Institute situated in the Badia Fiesolana. This should be known as the world’s smallest University or as A University with a View. I was temporarily staying at the house of a colleague Alan Kirman who was at a conference. He offered me two means of transport. I could borrow his new BMW with a stick shift or his old moped. I chose the moped. This was my first week of grown up non student work and I didn’t want to start out by wrecking a BMW.

If I recall correctly, riding a moped in Italy is a terrifying experience. Also I managed to get lost. Finally I found my office but the lecture was in the nearby Villa Schifanoia (lit trans disgusting boring villa) which might or might not be the setting of the Decameron in the same way your house might or might not be the setting of the Decameron. I had prepared some lecture notes based on the idea that Europeans, like inhabitants of any other continent, might have trouble following my spoken English. However, to get to the lecture hall I had to either get back on the moped or walk carry the notes up and down a hill. Needless to say I walked. I left the notes half way up the hill.

When I finally arrived I met various eager but puzzled students including Tilman Ehrbeck and Christian Dustmann.

Tilman Ehrbeck was the first person two write a PhD dissertation under my supervision. He is very nice, very smart and very modest. He is currently a partner of McKinsey consulting having, among other things, ghost-written a German best seller. In his first year of graduate school he had a very good idea which I just understood 15 years later.

I was a bit slow but Christian Dustmann understood immediately that it was a very good idea. He is currently a professor at UCL, which is a big change compared to his previous job as a truck driver (in which capacity he made the only actually useful application of economic theory of which I have ever heard).

No comments: