A room with a view

On the left a pic of the view from our living room, which I took today. My housemates and I are lucky enough to live on the 9th floor of a building, facing west, south and east, and we can see all of London, all the way up to Canary Wharf (although that doesn’t show from this pic)(but if you look closely, you can see some of the skyscrapers in the City). That must be the best thing of this place: the view. Although I must admit, the kitchen, living room, my bed and my housemates ain’t bad either ;-)

One of the things I love about being a graduate student is that it’s so much easier to do things during the day, instead of being bound to the evenings as I was before (and then I was mostly too tired to really do anything). I’ve decided to start volunteering this year, and Young Enterprise came on my path. They run a Company Programme at a secondary school close by, in which secondary school students set up and run their own business for one academic year. I function as an advisor and mentor, and I *love* doing it. ‘My’ kids are great, they’re enthusiastic, feisty and spunky and run their own events-organising business, and pretty succesful too.

Another London Business School 2008 blogger has reported for duty: welcome Patxi! It’s getting busy on the blogger-block, the more the merrier :-)

Au revoir

Au revoir crepes. Au revoir Louvre. Au revoir yummie croissants. Au revoir strolling in the rain (ok, so maybe that’s one thing I won’t miss. And I don’t have to miss it, it’s raining in London too!). I had a blast in Paris, visited too many bookshops (although I didn’t buy a lot, I kept on thinking about the fact that this year alone I’ll have to move twice), museums and chocolate shops and was fascinated by Fashion TV (we don’t even have a telly in our house).

I’m back in London for two days, and this Wednesday I’m off to my parents til Sunday (can’t wait!). I haven’t seen them in three months and I can’t wait to catch up, give them a big hug and eat some of my mum’s fabulous food. Three months without a visit to parents also means I haven’t had a haircut in three months and I can’t wait to fly over to get that hair out of my face and get it dyed again.

Next week’s the start of the last term from our first year and our final set of core courses. We’ve got Markstrat (marketing simulation) for the first five weeks, and the full ten weeks of Information Management, Management Accounting and Macro-economics. On top of that, I’m also taking two electives, Understanding Entrpreneurial Management and Advanced Marketing Strategy. So I guess I’ll have my work cut out for me next term.

Last Friday the R2 admits came out, and I want to send my warmest congrats to all the admits: well done gals and guys! Speaking of R2 admits, there’s a new LBS blogger on the block, give a big hand to EHFM :-)

PS Sadly enough, I didn’t get through the lottery for the Clinton speech… but I’ve got a friend who’s going and who might be a guest-blogger to report on the speech.

PS2 I want to share a couple more pics of my trip (all taken with mobile phone, apologies for the quality):Pantheon [edit: taken on the one morning the sun was shining]Dutch bar in the Marais (see the Grolsch bottles? That’s from my hometown!)
Well, this is ONE way of selling chocolate…(7.70 euros per 100 grams)

PS 3 I’ve started writing at length about my recent travel and food experiences on a separate blog for those interested in more detail, click here.


Paris part deux

Il pleut en Paris. [translation: it rains in Paris] Somehow, being surrounded by all these native French speakers, my secondary school French (the full six years of it) is coming back and I can get by reasonably well shopping and getting into museums. Apparently, I look so Parisian that some American tourists asked me the way in their best French… they were quite surprised I answered in fluent English with an English accent.

My love affair with Paris is continuing. What is there not to love (except for the weather)? I went to the Musee National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet and was very impressed, both with the building which is very light, airy and feels serene and with the collection of Asian art and the large amount of buddhas. The audio guide was good, but to my taste there were too few items that were covered. On the way to and from I did some shopping at some of Paris’ excellent food markets, which offer some delectable foodstuffs. Later on this week the Quartier Latin is on the schedule, and the Marais, and to finish off some more Louvre. Ah, Paris mon amour :-)

Bonjour Paris

Blogger’s been a bit wobbly lately, something to do with a wonky server. Please accept my apologies if you’ve been trying to read the blog but couldn’t because of these problems. One of the issues that doesn’t seem to be solved yet is the upload of pictures, so they’ll have to wait for a bit til they get that up and running again.

I’m writing this blogpost from Paris, woohoo! I’m here for a week, rented an apartment near the Centre Pompidou and I’m having a blast. Today I walked to the Louvre, for which a friend very kindly gave me two free tickets (which means I’ll get to go again later on this week, yippie!) and it was fabulous, what a great museum. I think I must have been one of the few tourists that didn’t head over to see the Mona Lisa first stop, my big love is Rubens, so I went to see his paintings (see left for a picture). Wow. I was so impressed and awestruck. Next stop were the Napoleon III Apartments, which give the words opulence and decadence a whole new meaning. Last stop within the Louvre was an expedition to find Zurbaran’s pictures, but I couldn’t find them on display, and I lingered a while in the Italian painting section, where I inadvertedly caught a glimpse of the Mona Lisa.

I’ve done some great food shopping (including a chocolate lollipop from Jean Paul Hevin)(the pump on the left is also one of his chocolate creations, for 45 euros it could be yours), and I think I’m falling in love with this city ;-) Don’t get me wrong, London is still my number two (my hometown will always be no 1), but Paris is making a good third. There’s something about the way Parisians park (bump the car behind you, bump the car in front, et voila, there’s a parking space where there wasn’t one before!), the way Parisian women smoke (so elegantly, makes me almost jealous I don’t smoke) and the lovely architecture of cream coloured buildings and churches.

Pictures to follow when Blogger gets its act together again.
[edit 1. Blogger lets me put up pictures, so I’ve added a few. All of them are made on my mobile phone so I apologize for the poor quality.]

Guess who’s coming to town?

The dude on the left!!! He’ll be coming to London Business School to speak (one of the advantages of having Dean Tyson as our Dean… I’m so sorry she’s leaving, I wanted her to be the one that gives me my degree!) on Tuesday the 28th, slap bang in the middle of our Spring Break. I’ve just signed up to go, and I’m hoping I get through the lottery, I’m sort of banking that most of my classmates are off to West-Africa, Guadaloupe, Egypt, or some other exotic location. Keep your fingers crossed!

What do these have in common?

Quick popquiz: What do a Big Mac, Tsjernobyl, the Magic Bullit, photochemical oxidant formulation and milk in a bottle have in common?

A. Nothing, you’re hallucinating
B. There are all excellent examples of something that I don’t like
C. They were all discussed in an OTM lecture

I was going to do this really clever thing where you have to turn the page upside down to read the answers, like they do in magazines, but I have no idea how to make that work (or better yet, I’m too lazy to put in the time to figure it out). So I’ll just let you guys guess, and post the answer next time. Although, that’s kinda lame. And knowing my memory, I’ll probably forget. OK, so the answer is C. What can I say? It was an ahum… interesting lecture.

This is our last week of the second term, which means we’re 2/3 of the way through our first year. Time flies when you’re having fun ;-). Tomorrow we’ve got our final assignment for Marketing due (no exam for that subject), and this Saturday sees our final two exams for this term: Decision and Risk Analysis (aka Excel for geeks)(good thing I’m a bit of a geek), and Operations and Technology Management. And I’ve been too busy working on the Marketing assignment to really start studying, so that means I’ll have to work a little bit harder the rest of the week.

I think I’m not the only person who’s already mentally halfway on spring break (starting this Sunday, a whole two weeks!), there are trips being organised to Peru, Japan, a sailing trip to Guadaloupe, a trip to West-Africa, and many more that I haven’t even heard about. Hope everyone comes back safely with tons of pictures!

Bright Lights, Big City

NEW YORK CITY!!!! After a whole day of anxious email refreshing, late yesterday afternoon came the news: I’ve been offered a spot on the exchange with NYU’s Stern School of Business! Yippie! I’m going to live in New York for three months :-). The first book I ever bought was a Berlitz travelguide to New York, so I’ll try and dig that up from the mountain of boxes in my parents’ attic and take that with me. New York, baby, here I come! I’m so excited, I was literally jumping up and down. Now I’ll have to decide when I’ll go: autumn or winter, depending on when which courses are taught where and if I can bring myself to spend time in a fr**king cold NYC winter.
Congrats go out to RsR too, he’s got a place at Columbia, well done my man!

Another piece of trememdous news is the B I got in Finance. For some people that might be somewhat disconcerting, not to get an A, but for dedicated followers of this blog, you know how much I struggled with Finance (see here and here). So I’m so glad I made it in one piece!

Yesterday turned out to be a bit of a weird and strangely cosmpolitan day. With my application for a dream internship due (tick), waiting for the exchange results to come out (tick), doing a lot of research for our next assignment on the Adventures in Management Innovation course (tick), doing a lot of research for my upcoming Paris trip (8 days and counting down) (tick), going grocery shopping in the Japanese Store on Piccadilly with a Japanese friend (tick) and going out for dinner at an Iranian restaurant with my studygroup to catch up (and hearing that some of them have secured great jobs: congrats guys, I’m so proud of you! For those not so lucky: the best is yet to come) (tick) it was kinda cosmopolitan. I think I touched, experienced and was exposed to at least half of the United Nations countries yesterday and I spoke four different languages (one of them, Japanese, poorly). What’s that saying again? ‘Variety is the spice of life’ and it’s true!

Irony of ironies

[I wrote part of this post last night, and somehow didn’t have the guts to press ‘publish’. So I slept on it for a night, and decided I do want to publish this, even if it is only because of the great pic that I found. And even though it is one long rant. So if your tolerance for rants or whining is low, you should probably skip the next paragraph.]

For someone who loves to write and normally has no problems whatsoever coming up with story ideas and then crafting a nice couple of paragraphs for this blog, it’s remarkable how much I struggle with my cover letters for internship applications. I get caught in this official job-seeker language and I can’t make the letter reflect me or my personality . Isn’t that odd? The pinnacle of saying-nothing-using-a-lot-of-words is ‘I have excellent analytical and communication skills’, which is such a hollow phrase it makes me cringe. Anyone can say that. In fact, mentioning you have great communication skills but then writing a crappy cover letter sorta contradict each other. When my writing matters (for example to get an interview), I struggle to deliver something I’m happy with. And then I start to procrastinate. In fact, you could argue that this whole blog is one big excercise in egotistical procrastination from my side.

[so much for the bit I wrote last night, here’s the addition from today.]
OK, so it wasn’t quite that bad. I slept on my letter, and today the world looks much brighter. And I scrapped the analytical/communication skills sentence. And sent the cover letter in. So now I’m typing with my fingers crossed.

Today is also the day on which the decisions for the exchange schools come out. I applied to three schools, and I’m hoping to get one of them (although I couldn’t choose between the three, so I’m quite happy to let someone else make that choice for me). From what I know, a third of the class usually goes on exchange and most people get one of their three schools they applied for. And yeah, I’m kinda nervous. Because I’m so excited about all three schools I applied for. I feel like I tell you guys yet which ones I applied for, I don’t wanna jinx it. But as soon as I find out, I’ll post about it.

[edit 1. Right after I posted this, I found this incredibly cool job post (too bad I suck at making videos). Diesel is looking for a junior lucky bastard. What would you do as a lucky bastard?
‘This year 55DSL is offering an exciting opportunity to two unique individuals. This job involves traveling around the world for 55 days looking for the best our little blue planet has to offer. We want to see you running with bulls, swimming with dolphins, drinking with strangers and generally enjoying life to it’s fullest.’

end of edit 1].

For sale

I dunno why, but marketing is usually a rich hunting ground for me when it comes to blogpost ideas and today was no exception. We were talking about advertising and positioning statements and it dawned on me that you could use that exact same model when selling yourself (ehm, I mean, hunt for an internship)(it just dawned on me that it also works when writing essays for the MBA… I love models I can apply everywhere. Sorry. It’s the consultant in me). Here it goes:

1. Define the target market. In career/mba-speak this translates into: What industry do you want to work in? And specific companies? What MBA schools are you targeting? And once you know that: who will be your audience reading your application, or doing the interview.

2. Find your point of differentiation. Translation: make them want you, because you offer something that no one else offers AND you can articulate what the something is.

3. What image do you want to project? Translation: what do you want them to think of you? Any particular things you want to highlight or hide?

Useful stuff, but too late for the very first internship application that I sent out this morning, to be closely followed by another one tomorrow. I’m following my own advice (see Fools in Love) and am only applying for jobs that I’ve got my heart set on. Keep your fingers crossed!

Alright, enough procrastination, back to our Decision and Risk Analysis assignment or else Al, my DRA partner-in-crime, will kill me.

OMG OTM

What is it with OTM and acronyms that even the coursename is an acronym? Here’s an example from a slide from this morning’s lecture (although by no means typical, I think it nicely illustrates the point):

Evolution of process management: from AMS, to SM, MRP, JIT, TPS and Lean Thinking [editor: why hasn’t this last one got an acronym?]

Why the use of acronyms? Is it because of efficiency? The acronyms take less space on a slide. Or is it because of laziness? It’s just easier to use the acronym than type out the full word. I dunno. Someone should do some research on this, I can feel a dissertation coming on :-)

Another thing that I thought about during OTM, completely unrelated, yet I feel compelled to write about it: DIY fruit and my aversion against it. Let me explain. There’s a certain category of food that you can eat with minimal preparation, like say apples or pears. There’s a second category of fruit which requires slightly more preparation, like a banana (needs the outer thing peeled off) or strawberries. And then there’s the DIY fruit. The fruit that takes forever to peel, undo of ugly white bits and cut or chop. I’m talking oranges, kiwis and nectarines or worse, fresh pineapple. And they’re always so messy to eat as well. Needless to say I’m an apple/pear kinda gal (and I adore canned peaches). Or the ready prepped, overpriced, no longer fresh fruit you can buy in the local supermarkets here. So don’t be offended if you offer me anything that falls into the DIY category. I like you. Most likely. I am just too lazy for your fruit. My one big foodie sin. I don’t like DIY fruit.

One thing that my odd-news radar picked up today: an article about a group of Singaporean students that claim they can make a plant that lights up when it needs water. Now that’s a useful invention!

PS The picture top left has nothing to do with this post, it’s shameless and utterly pointless self promotion since it’s a photo that I shot last weekend.

I *love* London :-)

Having a friend over to come and visit is always a treat (especially when it’s a dear friend like MW), ‘cause it makes me feel like a tourist in my own city, and I rediscover how much I love London. I spent the last few days chatting and catching up, drinking copious amounts of tea, walking through London, visiting Westminster Abbey (see left, it’s my own photo), taking pictures (both of us are avid photographers) and doing lots and lots of shopping. We had a blast, and it felt like I was on a mini-holiday too, like my friend.

Here’s a list of our favourite shopping places:

* Borough Market. Add a few cute guys, some nice books and this is my idea of heaven. The food stalls sell the most amazing things here, it’s a foodie’s heaven. We bought cookies at Konditor and Cook, tasted so many wonderful cheeses, olive oils, almonds, chocolate that my taste buds are still jumping up and down for joy and lunched on German Bratwurst with Curry Gewurz Ketchup (if you’ve never had it, you’re missing a great culinary experience). If you love food, this is a definite must and I can highly recommend it;

* Muji, a Japanese chain of stores selling everything from stationary, bags, clothes to cooking utensils, all in minimalist design (branches on Oxford Street, Long Acre (in Covent Garden) and Tottenham Court Road) and I just want to buy it all. The coolest buy are fold up cardboard speakers for your MP3 player;

* Fortnum and Mason. If you’re serious about your groceries (especially tea, coffee and chocolates), this is a great place to shop. It’s quaint, quintessentially English, an institution in London and another foodie must;

* Bureau, on Great Newport Street in Covent Garden. This is a stationary store extraordinaire and I could spend hours in this place. Great place to get notebooks, pens, diaries, greeting cards. I saw something called PaperPC there, a digital pen combined with digital paper… it looked fab and I would’ve bought it then and there (my big dream is having a tablet Mac) if I’d had the money.

For all of you that like taking Cosmo-style quizzes, this might be interesting (and no, I didn’t rig the result, I actually do belong in London!):

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique woman like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.

Gone fishing

I am christening this week ‘JOBWEEK’. As a collective year of MBA2007 students, what we will do over the summer seems to be the one question that really matters at this time of the year. Some of us have job offers and poke others’ eyes out, some of us have offers and can’t seem to decide which one to take, some of us haven’t applied for even one job yet (that’ll be me). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m looking to spend my summer lying on the beach, but the kind of jobs I’m after in industry are a bit slower to get started, since a lot of industry-companies don’t know in January if and if so which projects they’ll have in June. I’m working hard at securing a kick-a** internship, I took a competency interview training workshop held by Career Services earlier this week (which was really helpful), I went to the Summer Consulting Team presentation today (interesting stuff) and I’m setting up informational interviews with alums (which is where LBS’s great alum network really comes into its own) and contacts through friends. It’s the long and slow way compared to the Milkround jobs, but I have good hopes my dreamjob will be mine in June. Heck, I’m actually even applying for two positions over the next week ;-)

I’m going fishing for a few days. Well, not literally fishing (I’m waaaay too impatient to actually sit down to fish)(plus I’m a girl and squaemish (spelling?)), but figuratively. I’ve got a good friend coming from the Netherlands to stay with me for a few days and I’m going offline until Sunday to spend some time with her, take some nice photographs and chat to my heart’s content. And as you can tell from the last blogpost, I’m ready for a little downtime. See you guys next week.