In late July 2010, I arrived in Toulouse a freshly (or, judging from my rumpled travel attire, not-so-freshly) imported tabula rasa from the other side of the Atlantic. I had only a vague notion of what it would mean to study in the Master 2 program at TSE, and even less of an idea about what to expect from life in southern France (I had neglected to bring a winter coat, for example). When I departed from Toulouse in early August of the following year, the city and the university had left on me an indelible impression: rigorous preparation for my future work, fond memories, and cherished new friendships.
TSE's M2 program impressed me with three aspects in particular. First, the program presents a solid foundation of the fundamental concepts in modern economics. It is (almost surely) impossible to internalise everything the first time around -- especially given the furious pace of the M2 year -- and our specific academic backgrounds and study habits will affect the benefit we can derive, but the ideas presented and the training we receive will invariably serve us well. Second, TSE exposes even the most bookish among us to diverse cultures, ideas, and experiences. Finally, TSE enables us to study among brilliant minds. You have been granted access to an élite environment: At the blackboard in front of you, current leaders in the field; in the chairs surrounding you, future academics and practitioners.
Following my year at TSE, I was accepted into the economics Ph.D. program at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where I am currently pursuing my studies and research. With Rice's qualifying exams safely behind me, my immediate academic goals are to write the strongest doctoral thesis I can and to serve as an inspiring and useful resource to others as colleague and TA. Ultimately I aspire to serve as a university professor, continuing the tradition of conducting quality research and extending knowledge to a wide audience.
Allow me to end with a few pieces of advice, what the present me would have told the rumpled-clothed incoming student that was me two years ago. (1) Work hard, work together. At TSE, courses are rigorous and standards are high; steel yourself for a challenging year. Studying with your colleagues will make the year less overwhelming and more rewarding. (2) Look for ways to share. Contributing to the education of others and to the TSE community will enrich both your own experience and the experience of those around you. (3) Get to know your peers and professors. The people at TSE are unequivocally its greatest asset. (4) The secretaries -- for my year, Mmes Schloesing, Grizeaud, and Delorme -- are among these people. Thank them for their work. (5) Take advantage of opportunities outside the classrooms and library. Yes, you are at TSE to study economics and to study it doggedly. But it would be downright un-French to pass the entire year without a little joie de vivre. Some of my fondest memories include running along the Canal de Brienne and the Garonne, singing with choirs at Université Paul Sabatier, attending the weekly visites-conversations for students at the Musée des Augustins, mixing with M1 and DEEQA students in the Saturday-morning French language course, and learning how to dance in one of the UT1 sports classes. (6) Enjoy the TSE experience. It will be demanding. It will, at times, seem futile. And with a supportive group of friends, a strong work ethic, and committed determination, it will be worth it.
This year you find yourself among brilliant and interesting people who share your passion for economics and your desire to enjoy life. Profit well from the year ahead, and bonnes études!