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This blog is for MBA applicants who want to know more about life as part of the London Business School community. The site is managed by the MBA Admissions Team with content provided by students and alumni.

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Goal! Goal! Goal!

Posted by Melanie on 19 November 2007

I think it's safe to say that at least 25% of the MBA class was on a sports trip last weekend. The guys football team, and girls rugby and football teams were in Barcelona last weekend for our own tournaments.

For me, it was less about the winning than it was about building up the team spirit, learning how to play better football, and having fun. There were 10 of us playing for the Women's Football team - coincidently all from the Americas - except for Sandra - my German study group mate who had lived in Barcelona before. I'd say it was the first time we've actually played as a real team - we had previously only practiced periodically on Sunday mornings. And thanks to the support from our coach, Guy, from the Men's Football team, we saw each player shine in her own way.

As for me, having never played team or contact sports before, the whole experience was exhilarating. There's something so real when you feel the pain in your whole body the next days from the intense strain of the games and the cold. Favorite memory: Simone roaring out the taxi window back at the hustlers on the way to the club Saturday night. Worst moment: discovering that we were all shafted by the budget hotel: no heating and no hot water. Oh, but in the end, it was a trip totally worth it.

Ah yes, and the results were a draw:

IESE 3 - LBS 2

INSEAD 4 - IESE 1

LBS 1 - INSEAD 0

The best game was the friendly match to the ones who wanted to play one more. Thanks to the partners who refereed for us, cheered for us, and played goalie for us in the last match.

Cheers to the 2007-2008 LBS Women's Football Team!

Acting & self-reflection

Posted by Melanie on 13 November 2007

The last two Fridays I missed my Acting 1 classes run by the Acting and Communications Club due to the Energy Summit, visiting friends, and the twelve hour strategy grind. I'd be missing this Friday as well due to the Women's Football Team trip to Barcelona. So I made an extra effort to do the make-up yesterday, even during such a busy time.

Only 5 out of 10 or so people made it - but we made very good use of the extra time & space understanding status. The activities consisted of selecting a card from 2 - 10, and acting out how we thought a person of that status should act in different scenarios. Then variations of wearing the card on our foreheads, having the other actings treat us a certain way.  It's amazing how well we were able to understand so quickly where were we placed in comparison to the other. Leo and I were a duo - interacting in an interview waiting room, going on a blind date, and waiting for our kids on a park bench.

The improvising is fun - but the take-aways are the most important. How does acting a certain status make us feel? How does it feel to be treated a status that you know you aren't? Where does status play a role in our lives? How do we perceive ourselves? How do you adjust your first impression of someone's status to the new information you find out about him/her? These classes are more about self-reflection than they are about acting, and are just brilliant.

Fuzzy Good Feeling

Posted by Melanie on 30 October 2007

I left my laptop power cord in a study room on Friday afternoon and didn't realize it till I needed it on Saturday. Stopped by the lost and found on Sunday and again today. Nothing turned up. I was ready to fork out fifty pounds + twenty for speed delivery. Before purchasing, I sent out a simple email to the Campus Community and I got an almost immediate response.

"I am sure I saw it in AG02/03 today morning about 11 a.m. We were in the meeting room and thought it was one of our study group mates'. Sorry, I did not collect it assuming the person who lost it would come and pick it."

Not sure how it migrated to a different wing on campus, but nevertheless, I got it back. Thanks Campus Community.

Another weekend has flown by

Posted by Melanie on 21 October 2007

Our weekends begin on Thursday afternoon, when our Economics professor sends us off at twelve noon.

Thursday lunches are for practicing Mandarin - I've started a series of lunches where native speakers are volunteering to coach those want to improve their conversational skills (strangely enough, I'm the only ethnic Chinese taking this course). I spent the afternoon working on the finance assignment and catching up with a friend over hot chocolate at The Windsor. Met with a group to discuss possibly joining the JP Morgan Good Venture competition. Ran late to meet another friend for tea in the Quad before he went off for the full-time AT Kearney dinner event. Attended the Alumni in Consulting event feeling cynical about the profession, but coming out in the end inspired by the passion and energy of some of them. Home late and hungry again.

Friday, up early for the Women in Business Conference - more inspiration from Entrepreneurs and CSR sessions - plus plenty of good take-aways from the Fashion workshop. Acting class. A couple of Guinesses at Sundowners. Then running off to the National Film Theater to catch the London Film Festival (and shamefully consuming McDs on the way). Home late, not so hungry and exhausted.

Saturday morning was meant to be easy before I meet two friends (a Croatian 08er, and my Estonian former flatmate from Delhi) at the Interdependence Day event at The Royal Geographic Society. But then got a spur-of-the-moment invitation for brunch at Le Pain Quotidien to celebrate the sunny weather. After the seminars: Starbucks at Knightsbridge; minor window-shopping to put the business fashion skills to practice. Then back at Baker Street to meet others for the Navratri event in Chiswick. Wiki says:

Navratri (Sanskrit:नवरात्रि) is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava - Nine and Ratri - nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti (metaphor for goddess Durga ) i.e. female divinity are worshipped.Navratri (Sanskrit:नवरात्रि) is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava - Nine and Ratri - nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti (metaphor for goddess Durga ) i.e. female divinity are worshipped.

So dance the night away we did indeed.Garba_4  

...till 1am. Home with friends at 2. Chatted over midnight snack and a glass of wine till 3:30. Pass out.

There was no way I was going to make it to football practice at 10 on Sunday. Got a call asking where everyone else was anyhow. Finally arose out of bed at noon. Made pasta for lunch. Touched base with team at 2. Read through my pigeon hole mail in the sunny quad - played with the daughter of one of the Japanese 09s. She's quickly learning more and more English. Dove into the computer lab to upload photos and finish Finance and Accounting reading. Greet the same familiar faces. Hour-long tea break on Baker Street as everything else around campus is closed on Sundays. Pass a djembe class in the Fairbairn room. Back to basement to finish Accounting and reward myself by allowing time to blog. I promise myself I will give myself enough time to cook the spinach in the fridge and be in bed tonight by midnight.

More Tattoo!

Posted by Melanie on 16 October 2007

What a treat! African food, pisco sour, bhangra AND salsa dancing all in one night! Not to mention all the cute kids at the Halloween Party during the day. It was quite tiring as a volunteer photographer for the day, but I had a great time. Can't wait till next year! (As Kajra Re is stuck in my head...)

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Where has everyone been?

Posted by Melanie on 11 October 2007

I'm sure all the applicants have been checking back every other day wondering, "why aren't there any new posts?" We have been, technically speaking, swamped.

09s have been inundated with at least one assignment, plus one-plus hours of reading per class. Not to mention all the new club kick-offs, and for some asians interested in banking, already interviewing for summer internships. (Bain China has already completed their interviews last month!)

08s have just returned and been drowning in the milk round.

I've been through two of each course now. It's amazing to see how the ability of the professor to hold the class' attention reflects amazingly on how much I feel like I'm enjoying/learning from that course. Accounting regulations was never more entertaining! (The assistant professor just finished his Ph.D. at The University of Texas, my alma matar. And he did say, "I've been here one month now. I hate it. It's expensive. I miss Texas.)

And microeconomics, which I remember from my senior year in high school being extremely dull and senseless, has become very relevant to my everyday encounters with business, culture and politics. (Plus it was a perk that fresh bagels were offered right before our discussion about the bagel and cranberries case.)

It's Thursday afternoon. The sun is shining. I need to go buy football cleets. And Tattoo is coming up in two days. I'm outta here.

Our first day of "real" core courses: Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted by Melanie on 01 October 2007

Stream B has the luxury of starting our Mondays for the next 5 weeks with Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility, a course which has had extremely mixed reviews. The cynics think it's a waste of time, while the idealists lap it up. I've always been the liberal-artsy-type person, and getting a taste of psychology, philosophy and sociology in a business course is a treat.

What I find comforting immediately is that the professor has stated immediately that she's not here to judge what is right or wrong for us - that is purely based on our beliefs and values. What I'll take away from this, is how to make the decisions right for me when I come to those ethical issues.

What defines an ethical issue? 

"Any decision that will positively or negatively influence someone else is an ethical issues," she tells us. Not every issue is a plainly-in-your-face-Enron-sized issue. It can be as simple as deciding on whether or not to go out late and effecting your ability to contribute in the study group meeting the next day.

"People tend to weigh too heavily on the short-term and too lightly on the long-term."  This course is great even beyond the workplace. Knowing this fact might help one stop and think over the options a bit more. Can you think of examples where this might be applicable to your life?

And finally, as one of my goals here is to pick up more English idioms, I've learned today that "deep throating" refers to the Watergate scandal - an anonymous whistle-blower.

They're kidding, right?

Posted by Melanie on 24 September 2007

Contemporary Strategy Analysis: Concepts, Techniques, Applications, With Cases     by Robert M. Grant      (Paperback - 31 Aug 2007)
1 Used & new from £285.24

***FYI***Response from Lecturer***Phew!

Here is the link for the Blackwells copy:

http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/display_product_info.jsp?isbn=9781405163095

And here’s the relevant Amazon copy:

Contemporary Strategy Analysis by R.M. Grant (Paperback - 19 April 2007)

Buy new: £29.99 £23.99   

Sore body and a full stomach

Posted by Melanie on 23 September 2007

Yesterday, my Spanish flatmate D was singing Manu Chao’s Me Gustas Tu and since our American flatmate hadn’t heard of him, we let him listen to it (from my ipod) and showed him a video from his Mano Negra times. Seeing a young boy dancing on the video reminded me of the girl from Madonna’s Hung Up video. And this in turn had me jumping up and down to the beats, ready for a run – or better yet, for yoga. I was told that Triyoga in Primrose Hill was where Madonna goes for yoga so I looked their schedule up and found a Yoga 1 course at 15:00.

Invited my best friend to come along (she has been battling allergies all week). I ran to campus to pick up my bike and we cycled to the studio – one of my new favorite places in London.

A cute café up front, smells of incense, warm wood floors and furnishing, and racks of super-high-quality yogawear. 20% student discount. Yeah. Mats, polsters and blocks were all provided in each room. The main one had a little stage up front for the instructor, and colorful window panes. Sunshine pouring in cheerfully. I hadn’t done yoga in over 3 months, except for the Kundalini session I went with S to at the International Youth Hostel last week. It was wonderful to feel the down and up dog stretches again – building up the heat through deep breathing and holding simple poses. I’m plenty sore today.

Heavy drinking before and during our Karaoke session at LuckyVoice might’ve added to the pain.

Now though, my stomach is happy – full of a wonderful Chinese lunch-dinner and mooncakes organized by a Singaporean and a Malaysian to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. The best part was debating over the "right" versions of the holiday legends. Apparently my versions have been Americanized.

Planning ahead

Posted by Melanie on 22 September 2007

I just bought my ticket home to Houston. Four-hundred and fifty pounds. It’s not so much the money that has me torn inside, but the indecision on what I want to do with those precious 3 weeks over the holidays. There were just too many options.

- Treks with classmates to the Middle East, Africa, or South America, for me to finally make it to those regions of the globe
- Spending time with alumni and contacts in China to get a better foothold there for possible summer internship leads
- Backpacking anywhere with a old friend
- Doing smaller trips in and around Great Britain and Continental Europe
- Getting ready for the milk round (not!)

Okay okay, those were the options because in reality, the most important thing for me over winter holidays is to be home with family. Sometimes I think the reason why I’ve been able to handle being nomadic for the last several years is because I still have home base waiting for me. I know that my thirteen cousins will all reconvene for xmas dinner – whether or not we do it for religious reasons.

So yes, this Christmas season, like every year (except for the year I spent in India), I will be shopping with my younger brother and sister for presents, wrapping them up at the last minute. I will be having a bowl of Vietnamese beef noodle soup (phô) the afternoon I land home. I will be staying up till morning playing uno (house rules) with my cousins. I will be home for just a few weeks of the year, but I’ll be home.

(Perhaps, very indicative to my choice for work-life balance... can I really handle the consulting world?)

Apple's Banana

Posted by Melanie on 14 September 2007

With regard to working our study groups, 2nd to the Away Day in terms of fun so far was the PeopleExpress computer simulation that was used in our Understanding General Management course yesterday. Task: take an airline start-up and report the quarter with the the lowest stock price in the last year. There were five variables. Simple enough, no?

So picture the six of us in the war room - scrambling through the help notes, scribbling key points on the white board (I'm obsessive with this), naturally dividing out roles and developing a mini-strategy. Through the last 40 minutes we watched our stock price sore to $68 in Q4 of 1989. We held the highest score in the class. Celebration.

Take two involved us developing a strategy then having another go. Piece of cake, right? Just replicate what we did before and be slightly more aggressive. We ended up with a lower stock price than the first time. I was deflated, knowing that the champagne prize and recognition went to a much more successful group. What happened? More than losing, I was disappointed that we didn't learn anything.

Or did we? We were so stuck on our first method, we forgot to expand our minds beyond it. We were framed! And after hearing the strategies from the other groups, we realized we were playing much to conservatively and reacting too quickly to negative numbers in our charts. Our group was majorly risk averse (despite the fact we mostly had no problems leaping off 10 meter high wooden poles and trapezing across steel tightropes).

Now will we be able to overcome it in the next year? We shall see... meanwhile, our 3rd favorite activity together has proven to be writing on a banana with a ballpoint pen. It's all about the texture. Try it. I dare you.

B is for brilliant breaks

Posted by Melanie on 12 September 2007

B is for best. B is for Barrick. B is for busy busy busy.
Jessica has just sent out the autumn term calendar for Stream B and the first thing I see is that the most of the column under Friday is left white. This means long weekends to travel. Late Thursday nights - be it till 3am dancing salsa or studying french. I'm with Stuart about being baffled about juggling social, career and academic events. After last night's stream pub crawl all I can think about now is bed.

And this is how it begins...

Posted by Melanie on 11 September 2007

7:30 Wake up in the midst of a warm new duvet
8:20 Leave home, bike to school
8:40 Lock up, dart to locker to pick up name plate
8:45 Business Stats lecture
10:30 First break, grab a cup of hot water for my green tea. Chat with stream-mates about Stream B Pub Crawl next night - and how it might clash with drinks with the new Dean. Head back to Stats.
11:45 Lunch break. Look for a fork for my homemade stir-fry noodle lunch. Eat in the quad with classmates in the sun that still lingers.
12:30 Head to stats tutorial sessions.
14:00 To the computer lab for the stat excel workshops. Check emails and invite other stream members to our Pub Crawl. (Informally known as the Pub Crawl Crashers)
15:30 Have a quick "coffee" break in the quad.
15:45 Programme collaboration briefing. Content is a bit dry but G makes it fun.
16:30 Quickly check emails and online errands.
17:30 GLDP Briefing. Room is full. Good to see people from other streams, will miss that. Work on some Chinese character memorization.
18:00 Search from Singaporean restaurant with Chinese-Indian F. Give up search and settle for yin-yang fried rice, which turns out to be quite a good portion to share.
18:55 Rush to Women in Business intro meeting. Impressed with their research initiatives. Chat over the quiche about hiring practices and maternity leave laws between different countries.
20:35 Realize that I've got two missed calls from the same strange number. Turns out to be an old Chinese-Brasilian friend passing through London for an interview.
20:50 Read cases for Understanding General Management.
21:30 Bike home.
21:45 Finally attach the front headlight to the bike. Porter claims I'm hiding from him.
22:00 Home. Laugh with flatmates about youtube videos. (I think I'm the serious one out of the three)
22:45 Blog. On standby for drinks with friend passing through...

R mentioned that if ones schedule isn't like this...  precious time here is being wasted.

Around the neighborhood

Posted by Melanie on 03 September 2007

After the first day of real class: Business Stat - I flew home (by bike of course, easily escaping the tube strike that started today) and picked up my dry cleaning (26 pounds for three pieces) and picked out a new orange phone - which they have back order on - I should really just go to another store that has what I want. Orange closes at 6pm. After a quick ramen noodle dinner - with gyoza, organic lettuce and an egg on top (my mouth is becoming parched now) - I walked to argos, which, along with everything else on the swiss cottage high street, closes at 6pm, except for the family owned hardware store, which closes at 7pm. What's left open are relatively cheap HK chinese, thai and indian restaurants for which I've picked up take out menus for - and will probably never use. Taking a loop around the area, I passed by a nice, swanky singaporean place which has a 15 pound minimum for free delivery. It's nestled in between some up market furniture places like ligne roset (which I will forever remember passing everyday I drove home from work in Graz) and bo concept. I kept going and passed a cute little Korean hair salon - Ho hair - 30 pounds a cut and style. I might come here for the sake of supporting local businesses.

Then up a block of row houses and on the corner opposite the waitrose which is under construction are two competing small supermarkets: one korean, open till 9; and one japanese, open till 8; both open on sundays. There are tasty looking eel rice boxes, and individually wrapped nigiri sushi in the fridge. As well as a small selection of medium to high end sake, and a section for green tea and buckwheat soba. Oh, and I finally found that black sesame flavored pocky sticks: 2 pound 58. Maybe I'll save those purchases for a dinner party - when I really want to impress someone with my pan-seared tuna steak and wasabi sauce dish. The fish shop is parallel to St. John's High Street and I haven't checked what time it closes yet.
The internet cafe next to the high end fairfax kitchen store opens and closes, it seems, whenever they feel like it - but they've got a fast connection and it's a five minute walk from home. Only, when I sat down, I realized that I had left my USB stick in the reception room next to the MBA office. Might as well go home and pick up my laptop and go to campus to retrieve it. The ride back and forth is getting easier - I've found a way to go home along regent's park to avoid making a right turn at the weird roundabout at the top of park road.

I like it here when it's quiet and peaceful. It will continue to get busier and busier as the year goes on. At some point, I imagine myself camping here...