Hmm, there’s a lesson to be learned here. Either I need to make more frequent entries about how things have been going or I need to write things down because sitting here this evening, I’m having trouble remembering what’s been going on.

My stream started off the second week with Business Statistics. The professor is really good but I confess it makes me slightly nervous–all very new to me and slightly intimidating. But that’s just me-I haven’t done any math since I was 17 which is fairly unusual here. Tomorrow is our third and fourth sessions and I’m hoping I’ve prepared enough to understand what’s going on!

Tuesday was our away day and I’ll leave the description of that to Rusgirl. A good time was had by most, if not all.

Wednesday was two Career Services workshops on CV writing and Networking. Neither of them were great revelations to me, but I did pick up some useful tips from both which made them worthwhile. Friday, we had a Self Assessment workshop which was by far the most useful of the Career Services workshops we’ve had so far. It was basically about looking into your “career anchors” and values as part of the equation for determining in what type of environment you’d like to work.

So that was last week. This week looks quite heavy with the exception of Tuesday which are individual appointments to review our CV with Career Services. My appointment is bright and early at 9am on Tuesday, but once I’m done that, I have the bulk of the day free (although it won’t be because I’ll be finishing up the enormous amount of reading that’s needed for Understanding General Management which takes up the rest of the week.)

In other news, the water coming through the kitchen ceiling had no long lasting effects which is a good thing. Virgin Media are stupid and I’ll let you know if they ever redeem themselves. With a little bit of luck I’ll have internet at home by Friday however I’m not holding my breath. Oh yes, and lunch at The Park is a good thing–for £4.10 you get a real meal, by which I mean the kind you never cook for yourself (one with a main course, lots of veg and salads). For readers outside of the UK, it is quite easy to spend £3 on a sandwich so £4.10 for a meal is pretty good value.

Well, it’s been a while but I’m back. Summer passed in a blur with finishing up at work and then 4 weeks of being really busy at home. And now I’m here at school.

I’m going to do my best not to repeat the oft-repeated sentiment of “time flies”, but I must say it really does! The first three days of school are over and yes, it did fly.

I first slept here on Monday evening-Thursday we brought everything to the apartment (getting a parking ticket in the process which” I don’t believe was justified because there was seriously inadequate signage, but there you go) but I decided to hang out with my hubby for the rest of the weekend. Monday afternoon was registration, where we found out our streams and study groups. We had a stream briefing then all assembled on the lawn for a class picture—I felt a little sorry for the tall people in the back because they had to stand a long time in the sunshine while the rest of us assembled. After that was a barbeque and lots of time to chat to people.

Tuesday was the first orientation day, with multiple speakers, each with something different to offer. An alumni from Credit Suisse spoke and amongst his other useful advice, counselled us to “ do the difficult thing first” (I think that’s how he put it, at least!). By this he meant that he believes it’s really worthwhile to leave your MBA and go work for a large bank or consulting firm, rather than jumping straight into working for a non-profit or starting your own business, because gaining the credibility and experience in these places will serve you really well in moving on to these longer term goals. I think this stirred up a fair amount of debate amongst my classmates, but I do see the sense in it, and he actually crystallized some of the vague thoughts that had been floating around in my head on the matter. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing what’s the right path for you, however. The last speaker of the morning, Mohan Mohan, was passionate and involving and I really wish he’d had more time, although he will be back on Friday evening.

In the afternoon, we divided for the only time into our national groups to devise a short presentation on our nationalities. There were some really fun and well done presentations and it was an excellent way to learn more about our classmates.

Wednesday was the second orientation day, which started with “Surviving your study group” and an introduction to case studies. So far I really like my study group but I must say, even from our brief work together, it’s clear to see why it’s useful to develop a group contract to abide by—it’s so easy to slip away from the topic under discussion, to lose track of time and so on. And it’s also equally important to have social time together and get to know one another!

The afternoon was primarily taken up with the Alumni panel and a presentation from two of the 08s. Both were very insightful and I’m going to take to heart the advice to write down one’s goals and review them every few weeks. I know what one of them will be for the near term—to figure out what I want to do after this degree! It’s not as though I was lacking for things to say in my essay, nor is it that I haven’t been researching, it’s just that with my background I’m not at a point yet where I truly understand some of the careers that will be open to me. I’m hoping that with some help from career services, other students, classmates, and alumni, I can get a better picture over the next few months.

One thing that has really surprised me is how many people 315 actually is. Even after almost 3 days of doing my best to chat to lots of people, I can still turn around and see people I don’t even recognise. Two years should be long enough to remedy that, however.

Tomorrow will be career services and getting our pictures taken for the directory. I can only hope that the photo is much better than my ID card where I look ever so slightly deranged.

And in other news, it’s raining inside. ☺ The flat above us has a drainage issue and it’s coming through the ceiling. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come—it’s only day 3 here!

Last weekend was Admits weekend.

Friday night was an informal meetup organised by (I think) the MBA Ambassadors at Belgo in Covent Garden.  First we went to a (noisy) bar to have a drink and then on to dinner.  It was a good way to start meeting people although a bit hoarse-making.  Some people went out after dinner was over (around 1130) but I didn’t have the stamina.  What really amazed me was the distance some people had travelled-lots of Americans, a few Brazilians and even someone from Seoul.  And some of them were here literally just for the weekend.  Made me feel like a real wimp for being tired whilst still in my own timezone.

Saturday morning started bright and early with registration at 9am and breakfast.  There were the standard expected speeches welcoming us and we set off in our two separate groups.  Mine was led by The Divine Miss N and the first session we had was with the Programme Office.  I found it quite informative because we were given a good outline of the program-some things I was aware of and some things that were new.  The next session was with Career Services which was also informative and energetic.  We did an exercise around one-minute introductions–I was actually done too quickly  but I think that might have been due to talking too quickly rather than not having enough to say. 🙂

We then had our school tour which was a bit funny given that campus isn’t very big.  Included in that was a visit to where the clubs were exhibiting.  I was so enthusiastic about what I saw that I didn’t progress beyond the first room and missed a lot.  Oh well, I figure there will be plenty of time next year.  In the mean time, I’ve signed up for the Engergy Club, the Technology Club and the Real Estate Club…well, they say variety is the spice of life, right?

Lunch was next which was pretty tasty and allowed us some time to network with our new classmates.  I foolishly didn’t read the info that came with our morning goodie bag-there were actually some presentations during lunch hour which I had no clue about until too late.  But no matter, the day was absolutely beautiful and it was great to meet more people.

The afternoon then proceeded with “A day in the life of a Student”.  I just loved the videos that were shown and it was a fun session.  If the experience is even half as fun as it appears I’ll be happy.  Then the last session for my group was a sample lecture with Bert De Reyck which very involving.  I’ll come out now and admit I have some catching up to do in the maths department but I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue. 

Dinner was a barbeque in the quad which was a great opportunity to spend time with ’07s and ’08s as well as my fellow ’09s.  What really struck me is the number of ’07s that said they wished they were in our shoes.  People genuinely seem to have had a great experience at LBS.  I have a tendency to be cynical about this kind of positivity but I really think I believe it in this case.

After the barbeque there was live music in the MBAr but I generally stayed outside to chat with people.  I did go downstairs to check out the MBA Band and I was impressed and slightly jealous.  Looks like great fun!  I left around 1130, I’m not sure how long it went on.

Sunday was a lie-in and then the WiB lunch.  Again, a lovely bunch of people and a great opportunity to talk to current students somewhere a little less noisy.  I also loved the decor of the deVille Restaurant.

The only criticism I have of the whole weekend is something I’m not sure can really be solved.  I just felt that we were often a lot of people in an enclosed/noisy space and it was difficult to speak sometimes and that’s what we all really wanted to do…and I really feel for people who don’t work in English because I know from past experience it can be pretty exhausting in that type of condition in another language.  But part of my issue is simply because I’m not accustomed to that kind of environment and I’m sure that as I get more used to it, it will become easier.

So that was the weekend.  On Monday I went back into the city to attend a workshop hosted by the Acting and Creative Communications Club on Improvisation.  It was great fun-although I’ve been on stage plenty I haven’t done improv since high school.  There’s nothing like having to be an angry dentist in a spaghetti western with a drill for a nose to get you out of your shell.  Also met up with some fellow ’09s afterwards for a beer. 

I feel both energized and slightly apprehensive at the same time.  It’s been a while since I’ve been at school and I’m daunted and excited by the amount of work and the amount of other things there are to do.  I think I’ll just focus on the “energized” part of how I feel and let the apprehension sort itself out. 

D and I went on a lovely trip to Sorrento last week.  And so I’m going to try to tell the story in pictures so I can remember it.  This is my first time doing an entry with photos so it may lack a little finesse.

We left on Monday night to stay in an airport hotel because our flight was (meant to be) leaving early.  Unfortunately, when we got there in the morning, we were informed by a smiling BA person that the Italians were striking and therefore a number of flights were cancelled.  We managed to get put on the last one of the day, so we trained into London and did some shopping and had some Chinese food.  It was actually really nice to be in the city on a weekday-MUCH less crowded.

We arrived in Naples airport around 10pm and picked up the car to drive to Sorrento.  Just for fun, the highway was closed for repair so we had to wind our way through towns.  Thankfully I had my navigator with me although it did insist that we should U-turn for quite a while.  But we got there and were shown to our room.  Next morning we wake up and it turns out we are right above a lemon grove and have an amazing view:

View from hotel room

That day we sat by the pool:

The pool!

and the next day we went to Pompeii.  It’s funny.  In Rome, there are stray cats in all the ruins.  In Pompeii, it’s dogs.  We had one follow us for the entire tour which I suppose means that they’ve learned that they get fed sometimes if they do that?  Anyway, Pompeii is fascinating but a guide is definitely recommended.  It’s the little things I find fascinating-the bits of paint, full mosaics on people’s doorsteps, wine vats and grooves in the road from cart wheels.  It’s difficult to believe that it was 79 AD when it was destoyed.

The next day we went to Amalfi and Positano.  It was an adventure.  Apparently I am more prone to travel sickness than I thought.  We took the bus there.  It’s an amazing route, and I think I’ve been on plenty.  Twisty and turny with incredible drops to one side and rock to the other.  And then into small towns where it seems impossible that a bus could get through.  But the bus was so full we had to stand, and the AC wasn’t working very well.  Shortly before Positano, I started feeling really rough.  But I lasted to Amalfi and staggered off the bus to go see a beautiful church and eat some good pizza. 

Church in Amalfi

We then took a boat to Positano (a much more pleasant way to travel!) and wandered around there for the afternoon and took the boat back to Sorrento before dinner.

Positano

The next day we went to Vesuvius-I’m really thankful it wasn’t that sunny that day-the walk to the crater is about 15 minutes uphill.  But the views are beautiful and it’s the first time I’ve ever been up a volano.  It’s not doing anything right now but apparently it’s overdue for a big eruption.  There are lots of people living right underneath it, though-I guess they have more faith than I do. View from Vesuvius   Crater view

We also went to Capri which allowed me to discover I’m also prone to seasickness!  In all seriousness, there had been a storm the night before and the Med was really stirred up.  I quite like waves and bumps but it really got to me.  When we got off in Capri I felt truly awful and we opted to take a tour of the island rather than try to figure it out ourselves.  Actually the tour was worth it-air-conditioned bus, funny guide.  Although his recommendation for a place to eat lunch was appalling and I suspect he must have been getting a kickback because no self-respecting Italian would ever have eaten there.   Capri was stunning, just like all the books say it is.  It was too rough to go see the Blue Grotto but that was ok.  The really fascinating thing was the weather.  As you can see from the first two photos, it was beautiful and clear.  There was no separation between the sea and the sky.  Capri 1  Capri 2

Then…well judge for yourselves.  Nothing has been done to this photo-it’s just the weather.   Weather

We’d intended to spend the last day lounging by the pool again, but the weather was too bad so we drove back to the airport early, left our bags in the left luggage and went into Naples for a few hours and did a self-guided walking tour of the centro storico.  I love Naples (what I saw of it, at least).  This might be because I had the best pizza of my life there (Ristorante Iris near the train station-looks univiting but is cheap and incredible.).  Seriously though, it’s very gritty, full of dark little corners, bits of roman ruins, superstitions, incredible churches, and just life.  It’s all just right there and fascinating.  I think I might get tired of the noise and bustle after spending more than a few days there but I definitely want to go back.

The only minor irritation of going to such a touristy part of Italy is that no one wanted to speak Italian to me.  (I speak Italian pretty well.) I think that people in service industries tend to just assume that tourists can’t speak Italian which is fair enough.  And for me it felt ridiculous to inisist on Italian when the conversation had been started in English.  It was better in Naples, though.

And now, back to the real world. 

This weekend I went on a “Start Yachting” course. This should be, as it sounds, a course for people who haven’t done any kind of sailing before to introduce them to the parts of the boat and do a little sailing and all that nice stuff.

WELL.

I’m not going to be able to convey what happened this weekend adequately, so whatever you read, multiply it by a factor of at least 2 in intensity and you might be getting close.

On Friday, the weather forecast for the weekend was pretty much sunny on Saturday and a little rainy for Sunday. Winds were medium. All in all, nothing to worry about although not ideal. Friday night I arrived, met the other students, ate an awful meal in a pub and went to bed on the boat. No one slept very well that night because the wind picked up and things get a little noisy. No matter, we woke up, had breakfast, did a speedy intro to the boat, then sailed out into the harbour to meet Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who was returning from a solo round the world race (he was third which is remarkable but even more remarkable is the fact he’s 68). We came back in and had lunch by which time it was pretty windy. By the time it was time to go, the winds had picked up and were 100% in the wrong direction. There was a coastguard announcement on the radio saying that they’d received a Mayday with “I’m sinking” and then nothing else (a little ominous). We tried to sail for a few hours but the winds had really picked up (gale force 8) and eventually had to motor to the Isle of Wight. It was just plain wet and windy the whole time and there was a whole lot of slipping and sliding and getting chucked about going on. But no huge big deal. Funnily enough, the evening was beautiful and clear.

Waking up Sunday morning it was raining and the wind was light. The weather forecast said there was a gale warning but not for “a few hours”. Suddenly the wind switches direction, almost 180 degrees so again it is completely wrong for us to go back to Gosport. Given that we needed experience sailing, the instructor decided we would put the mainsail up. We went over what everyone was supposed to do and for some strange reason I volunteered to the the one who hoisted the mainsail which means standing next to the mast in a moderately precarious position. Meanwhile, the wind is picking up. So out we motor and do a bit of a turn around into the wind and I start hoisting up the sail. Suddenly all hell breaks loose-the person on the helm (aka the person steering) can’t keep the boat into the wind. The person who is supposed to be taking up my slack isn’t. The winds are really strong and we’re facing in the wrong direction and the boat is doing what boats do and tilting to one side. I’m hanging on to the mast for dear life, but we have to somehow get the mainsail down and secure which is serious hard work–it’s huge and heavy. So the instructor climbs forward and together we try to sqish the thing down, which doesn’t work. The boat is still moving around like a fair ride, the rain is pelting down and yeah, I’m a little worried. She runs back to try to help the person steering the boat-then back to me. We try to feed sail ties through the sail which is almost impossible. The ties are big, the holes are little and the sail is flapping like crazy in the wind. Eventually we get a few through, so the sail is tied sort of 75% down. Throughout that exercise I’m hanging onto whatever I can/bracing my feet on whatever I can to not fall off. Finally I get back to the cockpit, winds are still picking up, it’s raining and we need to get the sail down more which means I need to go back up into my former precarious position. Someone has lost the rest of the sail ties. I’m supposed untie one of the existing ones but it’s knotted. Someone gets a knife the supposedly should help matters, but it doesn’t, I just can’t get it undone. One of the other girls comes up to help and promptly cuts herself so she’s bleeding all over the place. Eventually my instructor returns and while I hold onto the sail as much as I can, she wraps a rope around it. That’s the only time when I whimpered a little–I had no grip with my feet or knees, and I couldn’t really grip with my arms either because the sail was too big for me to wrap around it. Finally the sail is sort of dealt with, but the next three hours we just ended up battling the water. I’ve lost feeling in my fingers and it’s COLD. Looking on the internet the winds were actually up to gale force 9 which is “storm”. The rain was directly on our faces, like needles and it was impossible to look forwards. Eventually we got into port where again surprisingly it was calm and beautiful. I was so knackered I called D to come to the boat to get my bag because I didn’t think I could lift it. My legs look as though I’ve been to war with bumps and bruises and all my muscles ache. The instructor said once we were back that you don’t often get conditions worse than what we’d had.

I have learned one thing about myself.  I cannot stand sitting around.  So I’m actually glad I was the one holding on for dear life to the mast because I would have hated watching someone else doing that.  I’m not sure whether this is necessarily a good character trait or not.

So that was my first weekend sailing. Heh. I honestly cannot believe they even took us out in those conditions, but I also understand it’s a business and they probably couldn’t afford to lose the bookings for the weekend. And I’m still not sure how I feel about it all. On the one hand, it’s kind of cool that no one got hurt and I can tell the story, on the other hand, I think I might be having nightmares about this for a while.

Oh yeah, and I’m going back in July. Let’s hope the weather gods are a little kinder then!!!

I’m moving house in an attempt to exert some more control over the look and feel of my blog and also to get a fresh start.  Over the past three years I’ve been a lazy blogger and I’m hoping to improve.  There’s a lot going on in my life and it’s set to get even more busy when I  (hopefully, loan still pending) go back to school in September. 

As a former employee of a mobile manufacturer,  I feel a little guilty for my contribution to this phenomenon…
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2449968.ece