June 2008: The Song is Over
LSE finished with incendiary academic splendor. Or that's the way I choose to remember it; it appears likely that my time at LSE will be my last strictly academic pursuit. My finals consisted of four three-hour exams. They were of varying degrees of difficulty, but all were hard. By the time my tests finished I'd studied for over 400 hours since Lent term, all independent of my term work. I'm confident I passed my courses and now await the official grade release set for mid July.
Although I've done many things since my last update in December, few of the notables came during the summer studying term. My friends and I laugh how we've few things to talk about because none of us do anything worth mentioning. Luckily that changed after my last exam on June 12th.
My update will include as many of my adventures and outings as I can fit. The plan of this update is as follows. Section one summarised my current status. Section two will forecast my summer plans. Section three will investigate, chronologically, what I've done since my last update. Finally, section four will tie up loose ends. (A little economist's humor - nearly all published econ articles contain the format seen above after the paper's introduction.)
Section II: Summer Plans
Guinea: I've lined my summer with many exciting activities. Firstly, I'll be heading to Guinea on June 20th. My friend from economics, Drame Boubacar, is from there and after considerable pressure agreed to take me, two other LSE friends Andrew Shelton and Monika Schrod, and Nikoo Paydar to visit (he is, of course, eager to see home, too). I figure this will be my single best opportunity to see a West African country with a local. I know how bad Californians' geography can be, so here's a little help.
We'll visit for twelve days. We fly into Conakry, the country's capital and begin our trip there. We'll also be sure to visit Kindia, where Bouba was born, and the wealth of natural beauty Guinea has to offer. I'm most looking forward to playing topless football in the hot african sun every afternoon.
Omeed Visits: I'll arrive back to London on July 2nd. At this point I'll have until July 5th before being vacated from my dorm room. It just so happens this will be the same day my good friend Omeed Chandra arrives in London to visit. We'll begin couch surfing and checking out London/England. Both Beatles fan we'll be stopping through Liverpool and probably Abbey Road too. Our other plans are pretty open.
On July 16th I'll fly home to the United States of America. It'll be bittersweet returning home. I do miss my family and California, but this has been truly special. I'm also eager to get on with life. I'll have to sit down and decide what I'd like to do. I'll probably begin my job search.
Family Vacation: Next I'll visit Anthony in Boulder starting in early August. He's going into his 5th PhD year and I've only visited him once briefly. He's been so great about visiting me in Scotland, San Diego, and London that it's high time to see him in his now-native habitat. I guess its because I knew he'd be there for awhile that I didn't make it happen. Jeanette will be coming with me, making this the longest Darrouzet-Nardi children without parents event to date.
In Boulder our parents will meet up with us about a week later and we'll undertake the 19th annual Darrouzet-Nardi summer vacation. We're returning to our roots and road tripping across the Southwest. The rough plan is Mesa Verde National Park (NP), Hovenweep National Monument, Moab, UT, Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP, and Giant Sequoias National Monument. The powerpoint is available for download. However, we'll be doing the trip backwards and not visiting Death Valley. 19th Annual Vacation Trailer
Afterwards it'll be time to seek my fortune.
Section III: Chronological Update
Christmas in HMBChristmas time brought tranqulity. I spent ten days in Half Moon Bay taking it easy. The whole family was only together for a week, which is my largest complaint. It's funny, everytime I come home I envisage myself visiting all sorts of old friends. And then everytime I get to Half Moon Bay my only real desire is to lollygag around the house. One great family activity was cooking the Nardi pasta. My mother has cooked it wonderfully for years and my brother and I felt it was time to learn how to do it ourselves. We also named it 'Pasta Gildone' after the small the Italian community where many of the relatives are from. And now the whole world can make it because the Darrouzet-Nardi's believe in open source. Pasta Gildone Walk-through
Return to London
I returned to London before New Year's so that I might enjoy the festivities. A small contingent of my friends hadn't returned home for the break and we stuck together and had a grand time. On New Year's we walked along the river west towards the London Eye, trying to see the fireworks. Thousands of other Londoners had the same idea. When there was no more room to advance we found ourself beneath a bridge. Our line of sight for the fireworks was almost - but not perfectly - obstructed. Still, we had a great time wishing our homosapien brethren good tidings. Below is a "wow-this-photo-totally-captures-the-surreality-(is-that-a-word-?)-of-the-night" photo. (It doesn't. The night was fun, but tame.)
Two days before classes restarted I went for a hike along the White Cliffs of Dover with a friend, Prerna Mascarenhas. The hike was about eight miles and included coastal towns, great views of the English Channel, and of course the chalk cliffs. I knew it'd be one of the last times to escape for a day trip outside of London. (Click to enlarge.)
On the academic front Lent Term picked up where Michaelmas left off, but improved in several ways. For one my professors were better. In particular I enjoyed Christopher Pissarides and Antoine Ciccione who taught Macroeconomics. I also spent more time studying and was better at keeping up with the material. Often it's more important to stay barely afloat in order to get more out of the lectures.
Related to my work are the public lectures I went to. I got to see two Nobel Laureates, Robert Lucas and Joseph Stiglitz. Lucas spoke about a new model of information exchange that can lead to endogenous growth and Stiglitz spoke about his new book, "The 3 Trillion Dollar War". Guess what it's about. I also saw Nicholas Stern (of the Stern report) speak about climate change and Tim Harford talk about his book 'The Logic of Life'. Below is Lucas and my macro teacher Pissarides.
As mentioned before, this may have been my last academic lectures in my life. It's no certainty, but I don't forsee any more at present. For my last class, macroeconomics, I sat right up front to be in good form for the end. I became a little sentimental.
My friends and I went on numerous outings throughout the term. My core group of ramblers - Colin Krainin, Khrisha Swampillai, and me - visited three places: Surbiton, Khrisha's hometown; Wales, King Arthur's birthplace (accompanied by friend Prerna); and Farthing Downs. I also attended some more local things such as an Arsenal match and an international between Ghana and Mexico. My friend Ben Coffelt also demanded that I check out an artist, Robyn Hitchcock, and so I went to a concert of his.
Taking day trips is a great way to feel integrated into the country in which you're living. Every journey I go on broadens my sense of what the United Kingdom. It reminds me just how unique London is, too. Plus we love of nature drives me to forests at least every couple months. I compiled a slide show of Surbiton, Wales, and Farthing Downs.
FootballI follow the premiership closely. Even in the states I had a large stake in Arsenal's performance. That's why after a year of watching all their televised matches it was a treat to go to Emirates stadium and see their final home match of the season. It was a scrappy game, but arsenal won 1-0. The fans were great singing and chanting the majority of the match. Ask me about the lack of creativity of the songs some time. After the match they walked around to recognize their fan's dedication for the year.
I also went to Fulham FC's stadium, the Craven Cottage, to watch an international friendly between Mexico and Ghana. Mexico won 2-1, but Ghana were the more fun team to watch.
My brother and his girlfriend Jackie came to visit me in London. It's an all to rare treat to spend time with my siblings these days. In fact I calculated that I'd not been with Anthony for a week and a half since the last time the Darrouzet-Nardi boys hit Europe.
In February I visited New York for the first time. I flew over for a government test on Valentine's day. A special thanks to Anna Carlstone for providing me with a couch to sleep on. I spent three full days there. Each was much different.
The first full day I had to take the examination which involved three hours of standardized testing. I arrived about an hour early just to be on the safe side. When I got out I was rather jet lagged, and so kept touring to a minimum and then returned to Anna's.
The following day I took New York by storm. I started in St Mark's Place - well known for New York counterculture - because the cover of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti is an apartment building from the district. I then proceeded to walk north on Manhattan Island seeing Strand Bookstore, the Rockefeller Center, the Met, the Natural Science Musuem, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the MoMA. Exhausted I returned to my friend's flat. When I got there one of her roommates, a student at Columbia named Mika, invited me to come hang out with Columbia students. After a brief nap I decided I ought to go. We went to a pub, then to see a hip-hip act from Seattle called Blue Scholar, and finally to a club playing hipsta music. I completely missed that scene. I didn't know any of the songs; I didn't quite 'get it'. Above is a collage of pictures mostly from this second day (click to enlarge).
In the morning I woke up feeling nauseated. An hour later I threw up. It was probably food poisoning. But what made the situation worst was that my friend Anna, whom I hadn't seen since high school, was flying to Mexico that day, leaving me her vomiting friend on her couch to be dealt with by her roommates. About midday I crept into Anna's room and just slept. Overall, though, I'm thrilled to have seen New York. It deserves its reputation.
Section IV: What Else?
All that and I still had time to jet set ridiculously, pose ridiculously in front of Harrods (yes, the Harrods), and dress ridiculously for an 80s parties.
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Updated December June 16th, 2008