If You Are In Columbus Over the Holidays…

If you are spending your winter break in Columbus, campus can seem quite empty, so here are a few ideas to keep you occupied and entertained during the rest of December.

1. Zoo Lights (Pictured Above)

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been hosting “Wildlights” for 23 years now. It runs every day in December other than Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As you can see from the photo above, it is quite breathtaking. Perfect for a date or a family trip.

2. Easton Town Center

This is not a specific event, but, in my opinion, Easton has some of the best Christmas atmosphere around. If you are not familiar, it is an indoor/outdoor mall/shopping center in New Albany. They string up a crazy amount of lights, have decorations all throughout the grounds, and of course, you can see Santa there. I could not find a picture to do it justice, so here is the link to a clip on their website of the lighting ceremony. Actually, even if you are not going to go, I would still watch the video. If you can make it through without getting psyched for Christmas, your name might be Ebenezer.

3. Go to a Columbus Blue Jackets or OSU Hockey game

I have been to one of each this year. If you have never attended a hockey game, I recommend giving it a shot. I am the first to admit hockey gets pretty boring on TV, but the live action is worth the price of admission (especially the OSU games – only $11 for a lower bowl seat last week). You can check out the Blue Jackets schedule and the OSU schedule.

If nothing else, take a stroll downtown or through the short north. There are always holiday lights, decorations, and specials.

Also, there are a few New Year’s Eve events such as First Night Columbus as well as various hotel celebrations, but that is more personal preference.

Grading Myself

While waiting for all of my grades to be posted this week, I decided I should be in charge of assessing my own performance. The way I see it, this quarter was broken down in to three large challenges for me. How did I fare…

1. Don’t go broke
Everyone has a different financial situation, so this one is more personal. To summarize my financial life, my dear sweet mother (God bless her) supported me for 22 years, then I worked and supported myself for two years. In both scenarios, inflow and outflow are constant. Now, with loans, I received a lump sum in September, and that’s it. Scary thought for an admittedly (semi-) irresponsible spender. Bank account looks great in September. After that, it falls fast. I am happy to report that I still have enough money to last me until January when we reset the clock and play this game all over again. I might even have enough to buy my family a Christmas present or two.

Grade: A-

2. Don’t Flunk Out (But Don’t Lose My Social Life)

This was probably my biggest concern coming into the year. I have enjoyed free weekends for the last few years, and really for most of my life (read: I have watched as much football as possible during the fall). With grad school, I knew the demands were much higher and weekend work was possible. Class work vs. socializing is a tough battle to fight, but I knew I had to find a balance. Three months later, I am quite certain I did not flunk out (grades aren’t out yet!), and I was STILL able to watch the Browns and Buckeyes disappoint me for much of the year. SUCCESS!

Grade: A (I may or may not have been convinced to go out when I planned to stay in and work a few times, but not too often)

3. Don’t Get Addicted to Coffee (or Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster, NOS, etc.)

If I had a nickel for every time I had the following conversation in the last year, I would not have to worry about point 1:

Self-proclaimed know-it-all/psychic/pessimists: “Do you drink coffee?”

Me: “No.”

Them: “You will.”

Well, doubters, I win. As I watch some of my classmates strung out on coffee and energy drinks during midterm and finals week, I am even more proud of my self-discipline. My humble advice: get some sleep, exercise, eat an apple… anything to avoid a caffeine addiction. I promise, you’ll be happy.

Grade: A+

Straight A’s. Mom will be proud. However, I will probably keep checking those actual grades. I have a feeling some people will be more concerned with those results than my own.

Meeting the Master of Master’s in Finance

Last October, I made the decision to pursue a graduate degree in finance.  I was an agricultural economics major, so I did not really have any faculty members or advisers from the field of finance to provide suggestions for potential programs.

…and then I found MSFHQ.com.

Anthony DeAngelis, the founder and editor of MSFHQ.com, created the website to promote and provide information related to the Masters in Finance degree.  As the most comprehensive online resource on Master’s in Finance programs, MSFHQ offers detailed information on admissions, curricula, tuition, and much more.

A few weeks ago, Anthony visited Columbus to meet students, faculty, and admissions staff and learn more about the program.  I had the opportunity to go to dinner with him … what a cool guy!

Choosing a Masters in Finance program is a major decision.  The investment in time, tuition, and hard work required by the degree justifies a thorough exploration of all potential options.  By leveraging the insight and information from MSFHQ during my program search, I was able to choose The Ohio State University/Fisher SMF program with the utmost confidence in my decision.  I would encourage anyone exploring various Masters in Finance options to do the same.

 

How to not bust your entertainment budget in Columbus OH

Ever tried to find cheap movies in Columbus? I recommend two to you die-hard movie fans~

1) The first one is Cinemark Theater, which is located at a shopping mall at 2570 Bethel Road. I went there to see the extraordinary “The Smurfs.” It tells a story where the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village. Unexpectedly, they tumble from their magical world into New York City. It was really an amazing experience of watching a 3D animation picture with the special 3D glasses. And we could even bring those glasses home! The ticket is priced at around one dollar and there are usually recent released movies (but not the “most recent”). However, for the price, I think this Cinemark Theatre is definitely worth checking out.

2) Another wonderful cheap movie theater is at Easton Town Center. Though it’s not one dollar, it still cheaper than most other theaters, and it has the newest movies. I saw the film “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt in that cinema, which tells the story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.

How is that? Spending one dollar on a movie!? Terrific! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s take a well deserved break from classes and see one dollar movies~

Cinemark

My Favorite Professor

I’d like to talk about my favorite professor in the SMF program this term, Professor Pinteris. I enjoy his classes so much and I think he is a really scholarly mentor as well as helpful friend. His teaching style embodies his ideology of incorporating teaching into action.

As a conscientious and dedicated teacher, Professor Pinteris has always been generous with his time and energy in exchanging ideas with students. When it comes to his office hour on Tuesday or lunch session on Thursday, there are always many students speaking with him. His patient persuasion and education are a testimony to my horizons, learning, growth, and also benefit from more accumulated financial knowledge and experience. I love the way he explains problems and all of those wonderful stories!

Professor Pinteris always has each student’s individual growth at heart. At the beginning of the term, we all feel it is quite difficult to choose his/her own major specialization from Corporate Finance, Investment Management, Real Estate and Risk management. Professor Pinteris not only clarified the basic situation of each specialization in the financial industry, but also gave his own advice for every student according to the skills and interests of each individual. I made my decision based on his advice and I think I do choose a specialization which I’m most keen on and skilled in.

Instead of simply teaching formulas and theorems, Professor Pinteris often invites experts in the financial sector to give lectures to us. We’ve learned a lot from the lectures on hedge funds, corporate finance reporting, etc.

“Career path is not linear.” That’s Professor Pinteris’s philosophy! We cannot predict the next stage in which we’ll be. So try to listen more, learn more, think deeper. It can help us adapt ourselves to the changing circumstances. Survival of the fittest always applies and especially applies to the competitive financial industry.

It’s not too late! Or too early!

The first month or so of the SMF program has brought about an interesting dynamic between the students. Many were concerned that they have too little work experience for a graduate program. Most MBA programs suggest 3-5 years of work experience for candidates, and many of our classmates are straight from undergrad. Another portion of the students (including myself) have been concerned about getting back into the swing of school after some time in working world. My time lapse is only two years, but a handful have been out of school for up to six or seven years. Regardless, the schedule, mentality, and status of your bank account are all turned upside down. However, after the initial concerns, I think everyone is settling in and realizing that the dichotomy is what makes this experience unique and worthwhile. It’s much like a “Just for Men Gel” ad – the perfect combination of experience and potential! (Let’s be honest, the best Just for Men commercial is the one with Emmitt Smith, Walt Frazier, Keith Hernandez, and the Big Unit, so here you go.)

After completing a handful of interviews, I have realized that there is a great tradeoff between the two. Some interviews focus on technical concepts that we may not have covered in class up to this point. It is difficult to reach back to my undergrad education for specific topics, especially the ones I have not used in my jobs. However, what I lack in technical analysis, I make up for in actual work experience. Many interviews discuss behavioral questions, and despite what anyone may believe, this is a huge aspect of succeeding at any occupation. I felt as though my work experience was relatively useless until I started interviewing and compiling a sizable amount of “tell me about a time when…” answers.

To summarize, wherever you fall on the spectrum from directly entering grad school to going back after working the better part of the last decade, there is a spot for you. Just at look at how welcoming Emmit, Walt, and Keith are to Randy. This could be you.

Ice Cream Lover? Go to Jeni’s

When I came to Columbus for the first time, lots of people recommended me this brand of ice cream. Jeni’s, which is a local brand in Columbus, is an awesome place to enjoy ice cream and hang out with friends. I want to recommend it to you.
Jeni’s

There are 3 Jeni’s shops in Columbus, and the one that is closest to OSU is at 714 N. High Street, Columbus, OH 43215. You cannot miss it because there is a reproduction of a distinguished printing, American Gothic by Grant Wood, on the wall outside.

 

 

Are you excited about the ice cream? If so, then you won’t be disappointed. There are numerous sorts of hand-made ice creams with different flavors. The most popular one, which is also my favorite, is salty caramel. It gives a mouth-watering salty sweet balance. It seems that every customer who comes to this shop will have a different preference. And there are many other splendid flavors, such as, beet cake with black walnuts, brown butter almond brittle, cherry lambic sorbet, gravel road, lemon & blueberry frozen yogurt, the buckeye state, etc. Are you still undecided? Can you decide which one to have? The shop assistant will give you little spoons of every flavor you want to try.

menu

 

If you are starving, there are ice cream sandwiches as well for you to consume. The sandwiches are all in the most popular flavors with delicious cookies outside.

ice cream sandwich

The popular Jeni’s shop is often crowed with her fans. On weekends’ nights, especially, there is always a long queue, and people even line up outside Jeni’s shop. So it is better to come here on weekdays or early on weekends.

Comments on the Rationality of Human, and their Behavior in Finance

I’ve heard way more things about the behavior economics recently in class, on TV(CNBC), during lunch at Fisher, and even in a conversation in my dream (just kidding).  Economists, Psychologists, and Financial managers spend years and years trying to figure out their own behaviors-“why are we humans making so many irrational decisions which deviate so much from what they expect them to be, or what they could benefit from?” They want to find some sorts of laws, rules, or some patterns that could explain such phenomenon well.

Scholars make this even more complicated. So far, they could only say “some” of those activities and decisions are just irrational. I’m not going to explain what the behavioral finance is since you can Google it, right? All I want to say from my observation on behavior rationality is that: that people are irrational or making irrational decisions is because there are three things happening that distract them from realizing their target or goals. These things are:

  • Concerns over what other people do in a similar situation
  • Events that are in favor by the people but twist the outcome
  • Incorrect interpretations of problems

“Concerns over what other people do in a similar situation” refers to that people would chose the solutions that are not optimal or even are opposite when taking other people’s solutions into account.  For example, when you wanted to buy Apple’s shares but you found out that everybody else bought Google’s shares, so you bought Google’s share instead even though your 10-hour homework made you believe that Apple is going to blow out after tomorrow’s earning report.

“Events that are in favor by the people but twist the outcome” refers to that things that are happening within the processes of achieving goals are what you preferred but change your optimal solutions.  For example, you had a car accident because you saw an attractive person walking down the street which distracted you. In this situation, looking at the attractive person is what you preferred. But it increases the risk of car accident, twisting your optimal solution which is to drive safely to your destination.

“Incorrect interpretations of problems” leads to wrong decisions that what you know already.

If you are interested in behavior finance and want to discuss it, contact me.

Taking a Spin Around Columbus

Map of Existing and Proposed Bicycle Trails in Columbus

 

As I packed my truck prior to leaving for Columbus, I faced the harsh reality that I would not be able to bring everything.  After fitting in a bed, dresser, furniture, and clothes, I had to decide which items would get to spend the year in Ohio and which items would stay in Kansas.

Included in the junk that did not make the cut was my road bike. Over the past few years, I have developed a very amateur passion for cycling. One day, while watching the Tour de France on TV, I decided to order a road bike online.  It opened up a whole new world, where I could ride far enough to explore new places but slow enough to take in all of the scenery.  As an added bonus, cycling offers a great endurance workout.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Columbus cycling community.  There are a series of paved bike paths that wind through nearly every part of town.  The streets are also very bike friendly, and drivers seem to be cautious around cyclists.  Even at football games, there is a free bicycle valet called Pedal Instead that allows Buckeye fans to bike to the stadium.  Three weeks into the quarter, I realized that I needed to invest in a new bike.

From a buyer’s perspective, the great thing about a bike-friendly town is that there are numerous new and used bicycle shops.  There are at least seven stores on High Street alone.  I spent one Saturday morning visiting many of these stores, and I found almost every store to have great service and a high level of expertise.  I ended up returning to a store called Handy Bikes, where I found a hybrid bike for $160 (I later discovered the same model used bike was selling online for around $300).  The advantage of the hybrid is that it offers the strong frame needed to bike on city streets, but it is light enough to take for a long road ride.

Although Columbus has one of the best systems of bike paths in the region, it is only going to get better.  There is a project right now, called the Ohio to Erie Trail, that aims allow cyclists to ride from Cincinnati to Cleveland (through Columbus).  When this project is complete, we will have a “Tour” of our own right here in Ohio.

Can the football team affect your grad school experience?

Grown men crying
Buckeyes football - Bringing grown men to tears since 1890.

Ok, let me get this out of the way, I promise this is not a “The Buckeyes lost two games in a row, the Mayans were right, the world is ending soon” post. And I am not suggesting that the SMF program or Fisher in general is an expansion of the football team. However, the SMF program provides the unique experience to spend only one year (read: one football season) in Columbus. For the regular Buckeye fans (ok, I may be a bit past regular), this is just a sad season, and everyone will deal with it using their own levels of mourning, denial, and anger. I am talking about the out-of-towners, whether they are from Boston, Beijing, or Bombay.

There is an undeniable connection between Columbus and the Ohio State football team. This is sewn into the fabric of the city. So what if that huge chunk of the experience is missing for a season (like so many of our players are “missing”). Saturday, October 8, was one of the strangest “Football Saturday’s” I have experienced in my seven years in Columbus. Regardless if the game is home or away, campus is flooded with fans ages 8-80 decked out in their scarlet and gray, with as many Buckeye necklaces as you can find. Even on Fridays, all around Columbus and in the surrounding suburbs, businessmen and women don their Ohio State attire to show support and excitement for the upcoming game. After the game, it is commonplace to wear your attire out the local watering holes where throngs of your counterparts are either celebrating or drowning their sorrows along with you.

This was not the case a couple of weekends ago. This year – no national title talks, no College GameDay invading campus at least once, no January bowl trips giving us a great reason to extend our winter break just a few days longer. Maybe it is because I live off campus now, but I lived off campus last season and I did not seem to notice a big difference. It is certainly not depressing around campus this year, just different. I was out before and after the game. Jerseys were scarce. Buckeye beads were nowhere to be found. It might as well have been April. Maybe with only one year here, outsiders would never know what they are missing. Or maybe they don’t care. But part of the fun of a new country, city, or school is the local nuances.

So explore the arts district in the Short North. Gorge yourself with a Thurman’s Burger or a Dagwood from Ohio Deli. Watch out for the basketball team to make a Final Four run. And certainly do not lose sight of the top notch academics offered at Fisher. Those will always be here. I’m just saying, if you are on the fence about coming to OSU, ask any of the 105,000 people below. I can safely say that most of us (yes, I am in there somewhere) will never forget this day or this season. I hope our visitors will be able to say the same.

 

Fans rush the field after "The Game" in 2006