Economics Knight In Shining Armor: Professor Knight

There are plenty of interesting professors at the University of Florida, and Professor Thomas Knight is no exception. Professor Knight is a well-traveled economics professor at UF. He is a passionate teacher in his field, who views economics as the meeting point between social science and mathematics. His interest in teaching stems from his love of educating the brightest UF students and working with faculty who have acted as mentors and friends. Her Campus UFL recently sat down with Knight to ask him a few questions on his travel experiences.

Her Campus (HC): You’ve mentioned that you have traveled, so where to?

Thomas Knight (TK): I’ve spent a little over a month in a small city in Mexico, about an hour and a half south of Mexico City. I spent a year studying abroad in Barcelona. I think that’s where I got the bug of wanting to travel a lot. I also--after graduating from college--spent two years getting my Master’s in the Netherlands. I’ve spent a little over a month backpacking with my older sister through southeast Asia, spending most of our time in Thailand but also going to Cambodia and Vietnam. I’m going with my older sisters in April to Italy and then I’ll actually be teaching a class at a business school in Bogota, Colombia for the month of June. So pretty much any time I get the opportunity to travel I like to go somewhere.

HC: What advice would you give a student who wants to travel?

TK: I think that there are two general constraints that hold people back. One is money. And so you have to prepare for that. I think planning things out in advance and thinking about the financial aspect is critical. The other one, I think, is comfort. If you got a trip or if I go on a trip, we have to pay the same $500, but one of us finds it much more comfortable or uncomfortable than the other. Some people are totally fine traveling to a country where no one is going to speak English. Other people would have a meltdown in that environment. I do think that having some understanding of your own comfort level is an important question to ask yourself in traveling and studying abroad.

HC: What was your craziest foreign experience?

TK: When I went back to Spain for summer, I went with two friends, and one of them was going to fly directly. We were all in New York City right before leaving for the summer. One friend went directly from New York to Barcelona--very smart. My other friend and I decided that we worked it out with reasonable flight prices to fly from NYC to Dublin and spend three days there and then fly from Dublin to Barcelona. Everything goes great, Dublin is fabulous, we get to the airport in Dublin and our flight is wildly delayed. We were able to email our friend--because none of us have European cell phones that work--saying we are going to be  late. She tells us, ‘funny complication: The doorbell doesn’t work, but just call up (and) I’ll sit out on the balcony. So we get there, we call up (and) we don’t see her. We end up staying the night in front of the apartment building in Barcelona. We never fell asleep, staying awake all night with our suitcases. What had happened was the balcony faced the street behind the front door, not the streets with the front door. So she spent the entire night watching on the wrong balcony on the street behind us and we spent the entire night sitting on the street in front.

HC: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

TK: I have no idea. I gave up planning that, in a healthy way. I’m very happy with where I am in life. At various points, I would have said to myself, ‘this is what you’re working towards as a five-year plan.’ And I never was there in five years. It wasn’t that I was somewhere worse, it wasn’t that I hadn’t succeeded, it was because my preferences changed. If there’s one thing that I have learned, it would be the value of being a nice person. I think that if you are a nice person, and you work really hard, and you try to engage with meaningful experiences, you’ll have a platform from which you can find things that you want to do in life that you enjoy. So I don’t see a need to say where I’ll be in ten years. I think (that) rather the answer for me is, work hard over these next ten years and be open and flexible to opportunities that present themselves.


Photo Credit:

Thomas Knight