My Graduation Address

I’m very late in adding this, but such has been the case with all of my blogging—especially throughout the duration of my Master’s studies. In fact, I debated whether or not to post this at all. We always want our best to shine through. I think my graduation speech was just one of those occasions in which that simply wasn’t the case. Nonetheless, as my own harshest critic, I know that expectations I hold for myself can be too ambitious, or even unrealistic. From the very moment I was asked to speak, I felt tremendously honored and couldn’t pass on this unique opportunity. Despite preparing it while concurrently juggling final exams, completing my thesis, transitioning into a new job, and reuniting with my parents for the first time in about a year, I still had fun with it—even though, if you notice my anxious demeanor in the video, “fun” might not be the adjective that comes to mind.

A broader graduation ceremony recap can be found here.

As economists, we try to model reality. But the most important model we’ll ever construct is that of who we choose to be and what we desire to become.

—BJA

Miscellaneous Happiness in Barça Life

Life in Barcelona can be as fast or as slow as you want it to be. Since classes have started, the pace for me has been more of the former. However, I do pause and appreciate throughout my day. With a mixture of big events and many elements of simple life all converging in the same city, people here are living their lives their way. Instead of chronicling a big event or major attraction, I’ll focus on detailing a few of the little things that allow me to slow down! Here are a few small miracles I appreciate the most:

  • The beckoning scent of croissant con xocolat wafting out of the bakeries during morning jogs,
  • the bursts of laughter among friends echoing up to the apartment from the neighborhood tapas bar at the corner of our pedestrian street,
  • the feel of the fresh, cool Mediterranean breeze coming off the water, ruffling through the palms in the park on the walk to class,
  • the energy and excitement of the children playing various games in Plaça Barceloneta well into the evening,
  • watching the diversity of people passing by from my favorite bench looking on to the beach; some exercising, some en route to a destination, and some with nothing to do at all,
  • the tranquility of the streets before the sun rises over the sea,
  • the resounding roar of the lions feeding in the zoo while I, too, eat my lunch in the campus courtyard,
  • the determination and energy of the countless runners, cyclists, basket-ballers, cross-trainers, skaters, roller-bladers, and walkers,
  • the glow of the moonlight over the sea as commission-less artists craft sandcastle masterpieces in the foreground while wind fills the sails of boats in the distance,
  • the looks of amazement from tourists as the emerge from the underground metros in perhaps their first view of the city.

These are just a few of the things that make life special. Perhaps this is also just a small list of reasons why people seem to enjoy their lives so much here, despite any negatives! In Barcelona, regardless of your preferences, it seems to be easy for people to find what makes them happy in this vibrant, diverse world.

Happiness is a virtue, not its reward.

– Baruch Spinoza