One of my priorities in searching for an ideal graduate program was to find one set in an international environment. This can mean many different things to different people, but to me the most important factor was finding a program that would allow me to meet, study with, and learn from a group of people with as many different backgrounds and experiences as possible. SSE, in particular, stood out to me because of the impressive mix of incredibly talented students with varied backgrounds who enrol in the program.
My interest in the field of Economics was sparked at a very young age by popular books like Freakonomics, so I had thought for many years that I would study Economics as my Bachelor’s degree before directly continuing on to a graduate program. Indeed, my initial choice of program for my Bachelor’s degree at Fordham was Economics. However, I ended up deciding that I would benefit more from studying an interdisciplinary degree program and obtaining work experience first before continuing on with graduate school. And so that’s what I did. I worked at KPMG for two years, which was a valuable and instructive experience in its own right, but my determination to continue my studies only increased over time. My interdisciplinary degree and work experience reconfirmed for me that my true passion was for Economics, and so it was a natural decision for me to continue my studies in that field. I believe that pursuing a Master’s degree will open up a wide range of potential careers and opportunities in Economics that would have previously been unavailable to me.
A number of things about my experience at SSE and in Stockholm so far have stood out to me. I was immediately struck by how bright and talented my classmates at SSE are, which I feel helps to create an ideal environment for intellectual growth. With regards to Stockholm, what struck me most was the contrast with New York City, where I lived most recently. I’ve loved my time living in both cities for different reasons, but Stockholm - with its clean streets, efficient and dependable metro system, and minimal noise pollution – seems to exemplify what a well-run city looks like. Perhaps not unrelatedly, one aspect of Swedish culture that I’ve been struck by and have found impressive is how aware and civically engaged people seem to be – about domestic and international issues, about the environment, about the well-being of others in society, and so on.
I was previously used to school life at a bigger university with a more traditional campus, so my experience has been quite different so far since SSE is a fairly small school. In particular, the Economics program is small enough that it’s possible to know everyone’s name and feel a real sense of community, which is very different from what I’m used to. Everyone in the Economics program has been incredibly friendly and equally eager to explore the city, so I’ve found myself visiting a new museum or part of the city almost every single weekend. In addition, with the number of events that are hosted by SSE, like banquets and guest lectures, it is easy to stay active and always possible to find something interesting going on at the school.
In terms of my courses, I’ve taken Advanced Mathematics for Economic Analysis and Advanced Microeconomics so far and have found them each to be challenging and interesting in their own unique ways. The most challenging aspect of the math class is also perhaps the most rewarding and will be the most useful for my future studies and career: learning how to apply the mathematical tools used in economic models by studying theorems and definitions written in formal mathematical notation. On the other hand, our Advanced Microeconomics course has been strongly focused on teaching the tools and applications of game theory. In particular, learning about the wide range of applications of game theory, from political economy to evolutionary biology to international relations, has been extremely interesting to me and has left me excited and eager to learn more about the field.
Like most students who study in the US, I had to take out student loans to be able to afford the tuition costs for my Bachelor’s degree, even though a significant portion of it was covered by a scholarship. I wasn’t eager to repeat this experience with a Master’s degree, although I knew that it would be worth it for the incredible opportunity of studying at SSE. And so I was extremely grateful to have been offered the AFSSE scholarship: I knew it would allow me to fully focus on my studies and on engaging with the student community at SSE without being distracted by the looming stress of student loans. This ultimately made the decision to attend SSE that much easier. I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for receiving this scholarship. The scholarship was immensely helpful in encouraging me to enrol at SSE and undoubtedly made my transition back to being a student that much easier.
I greatly admire the dedication to SSE that those who contributed to this scholarship have and am grateful to them for helping to make my experience at SSE as rewarding and enjoyable as theirs was. I would encourage those considering supporting the AFSSE Scholarship that any contribution you are able to make – whether it goes to supporting the school or scholarships to help future North American students attend SSE - really does make a difference in the lives of those students and the school as a whole. Attending school so far away from home can seem daunting for potential applicants from North America, so it is a real source of encouragement to know that the AFSSE alumni association is so supportive of helping those students succeed.