Jun 27, 2007

Changing of the guard

Today is an historic day. I remember being in London ten years ago, gathered around the kitchen table with my flatmates and bottles of champagne, celebrating New Labour's victory in proper student fashion. It was a time of idealism and excitement and, even though I don't vote in England, the optimism was contagious and I cheered as loud as the next guy when Tony Blair's beaming smile filled the TV screen. Now, Tony has handed in his notice to the Queen, a little greyer, a little sadder, and it's almost like he's taken my youthful innocence with him. Good thing I'm going back to being a student again, so I can seek to recapture it; the youthful bit, I mean, my innocence having well and truly disappeared down a dark street corner eons ago.

On a personal, slightly less historic level, I met my first group of INSEADers last night. True to statistical form, between the five of us there were four nationalities present and the girls were outnumbered 3 to 2. After a few awkward introductions, we happily debated the pro's and con's of attending the Business Foundations Course, the best way to approach the recruitment process, and where the good parties were likely to be held. I was pleased to learn that my fellow admits shared my anxiety about the level and amount of classwork waiting for us come P1 and that, like me, none of them had started the pre-reading yet. A very promising start, I think... So now I can happily run off to the beach, books in suitcase, knowing that there will be at least a few familiar faces at Orientation.

On that note, dear readers, I leave you for a couple weeks while I catch some sun. Be good.

Jun 25, 2007


After having gratuitously posted about Natalie Portman, DTLF is now seeking to increase blog traffic by publishing rather uninspired song lyrics. This is clearly unfair competition. And like any self-respecting lawyer, I will immediately stoop down to his/her level and do the same, although, I believe, with more panache. Hark, my friends, the most MBA-appropriate song to have hit the charts in recent rock history:

Change everything you are
And everything you were
Your number has been called

Don't let yourself down
And don't let yourself go
Your last chance has arrived

Best, you've got to be the best
You've got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now.

I take this opportunity to nominate this song as the official "Dean's List" theme tune for the J'08 class. (For those curious about the Dean's List, check out the youtube video posted by fellow blogger necromonger.)

Jun 23, 2007

La Familia

Big family reunion today; 15 people spanning 3.5 generations and a couple more by skype (ah, the modern, international family). We managed to finish lunch before 5pm, which was a bit of a record for our particular clan. Seems to me to be a cross-cultural truth that, when you stick a random bunch of people together of different ages, with nothing more in common than a few strands of DNA, they usually end up ingurgitating a lot of food. And making slightly unpleasant comments about whichever poor sod hasn't managed to get married yet (that would be me). You gotta love them, though (and I do).

There is a rather interesting study published yesterday about families, notably about the relative IQs of siblings. Apparently, first-borns have, on average, an IQ three points higher than that of their younger brothers and sisters. Something to do with the extra attention lavished on them by their parents before the rest of the brood comes along. According to the article in the NY Times, first-borns also have a tendancy to be responsible, disciplined high-achievers; whereas their siblings learn how to play the guitar, have more friends, start political and scientific revolutions and generally are way more cool.

This begs the question: how many INSEADers are first-borns?

On an entirely unrelated note, I did a little jump for joy when I looked at my spotted visitor map today. Not only are the little spots spreading faster than chickenpox on a kindergartner (don't want DTLF putting me to shame), but there is a new spot hovering above Alice Springs. Having spent some time in that "straight out of the far West, got to see it to believe it" community but a few months ago, the fact that someone there would read my blog tickles me pink. Dear Alice Springs reader, I don't know who you are, but thank you.

Jun 20, 2007

Reality hits back

London was incredible (it's funny how much fonder I've grown of the city since I don't actually have to live there); three days filled with vodka cocktails, mimosa brunches, a few too many cigarettes (oops), lots of tea and an unexpected visit to an antiques show, where I was given the in-depth history of the howdah created for the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace. Apparently a similar one was sold to an American woman last year, and she now uses it as a bed for her beloved pooch. I love that: the epitome of not taking oneself too seriously... Here's what doggie beds look like these days:

But it's back to the real world of pre-MBA life now. Pre-reading books arrived in the mail today; they are filled with bizarre mathematical equations with incomprehensible acronyms, and one of them doesn't even have any pictures. Groan. The new Harry Potter is coming out soon, though, maybe I'll read that instead (hey, you never know, quidditch could be an essential skill for INSEADers...)

Speaking of the real world, I overheard this from renowned intellect, David Hasselhoff, while zapping through the TV channels: "If our show (Baywatch) had moved there, it would have put Australia on the map."

Australians must be bummed that, because they said no to the red-suited babes, people think the big blob of land with kangaroos on it is actually New Zealand.

(and can I just say to DTLF who thought he/she was oh so clever: HA! I like my beers German, please)

Jun 15, 2007

London, baby!

Off to London this weekend for three days of debauchery... well, mostly catching up with friends, really. Unfortunately, instead of going from Friday to Sunday as I planned, I'll be travelling Saturday to Monday; this was the only way to nab Eurostar tickets that were even remotely affordable. It's crazy how expensive and over-booked the Eurostar has gotten over the past couple years. I remember when I first started taking it, 12 years ago - it was practically empty and I systematically was sat next to an American tourist who asked me if we were going to be able to see the fish. Those were the days of sweet innocence...

On an INSEAD note, I still haven't received the pre-reading books I was hoping to skim through on the train, I have no idea if my first deposit to secure my spot has gone through, and am still undecided as to whether I should buy a new computer (hey, if I win the Lottery or something, I'll have to do something with that extra cash). I have, however, secured a spot on the "Vestibule" and eagerly checked out all my future classmates. Also read through some old posts discussing housing (how much easier would it have been if I'd had access to this two weeks ago), admin and social events. I'm struck by how friendly and eager to help everyone seems. Wonder if this outburst of generosity and love for their fellow man will wane somewhat after the first week of school...

Jun 13, 2007

Moving forward

I've been pretty productive these last few days (had to, really, classes start in two months). As of this morning, I am the proud tenant of a small, over-priced room complete with ADSL line (a blogging necessity!) Following in a proud INSEAD tradition, I will be living in a gigantic house filled with way too many MBA students, partners, electronic gadgets and endless supplies of alcohol. I don't know who any of my housemates are yet, but I do know some of them are from the D'07 Singapore class. Maybe they'll let me borrow their notes... So anyway, if I'm about to live with you, just wanted to say "hi" and "I promise not to hog the bathroom".

Also checked off my 3-mile list of things to do before I run off on my pre-MBA holiday ("Holiday?", I hear my friends shout, incredulous, "but you haven't worked in a YEAR????!!!!!") is my loan application. It's official, I am in debt. A lot of it. And all it took was hours spent in traffic in the sweltering heat of my non-airconditioned car (yes, a Renault), and a casual, 30-min meeting which ended with me signing away my first-born. Ah, the joys of private post-graduate education...

Having gotten so much done, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Until my anonymous friend, "A", mentioned that I was probably one of the "older" INSEAD-ers. And so the panic rises again. Does that mean I won't get invited to any parties? What's the age cut-off between old INSEAD-ers and young INSEAD-ers anyway? Should I frantically start plucking grey hairs? Are my chances of getting a job with Bain after graduation inversely proportional to the number of wrinkles I have?

Jun 11, 2007

At last!

Nothing like a nice long run with ipod blaring followed by Sunday brunch with a friend to perk a blogger up. (on the subject of running: I am signed up for the Paris 20k in October, if anyone wants to join me and form an unofficial "INSEAD" team, let me know)

And then, today, I finally got the news I was waiting for: Fontainebleau it is! I am now officially an INSEAD J'08 admitted student. This means I can get started on all the fun admin stuff and finding either a loan or a great wad of cash under the sofa cushions... First step, though, before I end up spending P1 in a tent on the chateau grounds, is sorting accomodation. I have about 5 minutes to decide whether I want to live 20k from school and brave wild boars on winding country roads at 3am every day or if I'm prepared to spend a bit more to live in the town center - decisions, decisions.

Jun 9, 2007


The purpose of this post is mostly to thank the fellow blogger who kindly sent me a copy of the welcome pack so I wouldn't feel totally left out and could get started on pre-INSEAD admin and class prep. Nice to know this is the type of school where students will make an effort to help each other out, rather than rip out key pages in library books...

Thanks to my very own Artemis (edit: thanks for catching the typo, that was supposed to be Aramis, of course), I now know that I am two weeks late to apply for the Business Foundations course, I didn't budget enough for books (having dropped my first €150 on pre-reading alone) and I need to purchase a variety of gadgets, the instruction manuals for which are longer than War and Peace (what the h&#% is reverse polish notation and why do I need it on a calculator?) And then there's that nagging feeling in the back of my head that perhaps those fancy degrees I obtained by waxing poetic on the intricacies of 16th cent. property law and other non-calculator-requiring subjects have not adequately prepared me for the challenge I am about to face. Hopefully I'll still be able to count on my fellow Mousquetaires once classes start...

Jun 8, 2007

Don't panic, don't panic, don't -

Still nothing. My stress levels are through the roof. Probably without reason, but still... I realise that my classmates and fellow bloggers do not understand what is happening to me, because they were clever enough not to wait until the last application round (I did have my reasons, namely, before the final round, I had this whole other life going on, one in which I was actually a productive member of society...) So let me explain.

Last week, I get the call that I've been admitted. (Fantastic!) After going on for 10 minutes about how wonderful my application was (really?!) I am told that it would be very nice if instead of starting in Fontainebleau, I went to Singapore. (Oh?) Apparently it's for my own good. (Ah.) Well, not actually, it's a question of there not being enough room. (Thought so.) So, what do I think? (Honestly, what I think is something along the lines of "Akgrstyapàidng%*$?????")
I hesitated, really I did. But then, I figured that since I was paying a not insignificant sum of money to this school, I should maybe stick to my guns on the preferred campus thing. Especially because I totally fell for the whole "we can't force you, it's completely your call" speech. Super, my call is Fontainebleau, then.

And that's where things all of a sudden got tricky. Lots of humming and hahing, well, we'll see what we can do, calls have to be made, stars checked for proper alignment, a few sacrificial lambs slaughtered, you understand... But we'll get back to you very soon, in a couple days, don't worry about it.

And still nothing. Hence the stress levels. Initially, it was just stress about how this would delay my loan application, my search for housing, my introduction into the NV holy land, my ability to get through any of the pre-reading (I don't even know what the pre-reading is yet? Fellow bloggers, help?!) Well, now the stress has escalated to: "oh jeez, I should have just said ok to Singapore, now they don't like me, I've messed up their numbers, they think I'm not a team player, that I have an attitude problem, they're going to change their mind about my admission and I'm going to have to go back to the job I was doing before and my former colleagues will look upon me with pity and disgust and my life will end...". They can't do that, right? Right????

(please excuse this interruption in our programming while I hyperventilate into a paper bag)

On a happier note, I was treated to culinary heaven yesterday by my (perhaps prematurely?) proud parents, AND I passed right by Raphael Nadal on the street. That made me feel better. Especially the dessert... and the foie gras... and the wine... and the close presence of a major tennis star... Well, it made me feel better yesterday, anyway.

Jun 6, 2007

Poised and ready, but...

...I still don't know which campus I will be on come August. By some incredible stroke of luck, I've managed to find fantastic (although outrageously over-priced) accomodation in Fontainebleau, but I'm still waiting to hear back from the admissions office. So I'm just keeping my fingers and toes crossed the accomodation will still be there for me by the end of the week, if I start in Fontainebleau; if I start in Singapore, I have the start the whole stressful house-hunt all over again...

So, while I twiddle my thumbs waiting for something INSEAD-related to happen, I figured I'd post a few pics of my Venezuela camping trip, which I know some of my office-bound friends have been clammoring for!

The trip started with a hike up the Roraïma tepuy in the Gran Sabana region of Venezuela. Took us three days to get close to it, and finally up it. The view from the top was well worth it, though, like something from Planet of the Apes or Jurassic Park. We half expected a couple raptors to come charging out at us from behind the massive black rocks. No wonder Conan Doyle got so inspired. As it turned out, the scariest living things we had to deal with were carnivorous plants and black frogs the size of a thumbnail. The 800-meter drop off the edge of the cliff face a few strides from our tents was a whole lot more terrifying!

We then made our way north to the Delta del Orenoco, stopping along the river's bank at Ciudad Bolivar, which felt like a Marquez novel prompting me to immediately fall in love with it (and this despite the fact that I had a bit of a mishap causing some nasty scars I still proudly display on my legs...)

The final part of the trip involved four days on a boat roaming through the delta and sleeping (yeah, right) in hammocks. The delta is famous for its birdlife, which is very impressive, except I'm personally not all that into birds... I was more interested in the contact we managed to have with the local Warao tribes, which explains why my favourite pictures from the Orenoco do not feature feathered and winged creatures in flight, but shrieking children playing in the water.

So, there you have it, my Venezuela escapade in brief. Hopefully there will be some concrete news re: campus to post soon, otherwise I'll just tell you 'bout the time I went to visit my grandmother and - ...

Jun 4, 2007


Quick note to greet my future classmates and fellow bloggers who inspired me to join the fray... Links to their blogs on the left.


Welcome, readers, to this humble blog, yet another clamoring for space in virtual la-la land but happy to be counted as a meager addition to INSEAD's J08 blog-world. After the unexpected success of my oz diaries, it is with pleasure that I once again put keyboard to screen to update and (hopefully) entertain friends and family with news and gossip from my life as an MBA student.

A few kinks to sort out before that life can begin, though. I finally got news of my admission four days ago, but I still don't know if I will be headed to Fontainebleau or Singapore in September. Not ideal, since as a R4 applicant, I'm already far behind my future classmates on obtaining loans, housing, a clue as to what is about to happen to me... I don't even have the sacred intra-net (NetVestibule) passcode yet. Feeling a bit miffed, excluded and slightly stressed, therefore; although honestly, even that can't put a damper on my good mood because, hey, I got in!!!