Monday, October 24, 2005

First day of exams is over...

First day of exams. This morning we had Financial Accounting. Almost everybody thought it was going to be a piece of cake and looking at the previous exams I sure couldn't figure out why the average score shouldn't be at least 80-90%. Not this exam. We had 80 multiple choice questions (exam lasts 3 hours) and there were quite a lot of tricky ones. My prediction: all that found it easy made a lot of errors, all that found it difficult saw the tricky questions and did fine. Let's see where I fit in.

Something about the grade system. The grades go from four (highest) to zero (or lower) with a mean of 2,5. All the grades are relative, so that means that if you did very well but the class did better on average, you will get a lower than average grade. For the people that know stats: the grading system is based on the normal distribution.

The afternoon consisted of a group exam in Organizational Behavior. We had to analyze a case by using concept of the course and advice an action plan. We did a short trial run before and developed an almost flawless procedure to get to a correct answer the most efficient way.... almost flawless....
Theory was great, but this is what happened in real life (don't you just hate real life?). Obviously not everyone wanted to stick to the procedure and lots of arguments arised. Quality of the produced material went down, blood pressure went up. Couple of harsh comment flew over the table and the show was now really on the road. In the end we handed in something, but definitely not in line with the quality standards I'd like to keep up. I sure needed some cigarettes and beers after the exam.
Next time I'll bring a baseball bat to group exams. Or maybe I would enjoy strangling people with my bare hands better....

On a happier note: the expected time when I see my girlfriend again is 55 hours, 4 minutes and 37 seconds (let's hope for a small standard deviation).

Tomorrow: Prices & Markets and Statistics.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What exams do to people...

We have exams this Monday till Wednesday. Everyone is studying hard and the library and break-out rooms at INSEAD are overflowing. Last night we saw the results of when people release that tension.

We had a barbecue last night and, as tradition prescribes, the person that had his birthday was thrown into the pool. Also, the person that won the Assassin Game (a.k.a. the top-killer) was thrown into the pool. These two decided that another person should also become soaked and from then on it became an exponential game: after about 15 minutes there were at least 30 people thrown into the pool. The guards at our apartment complex didn't like it, but we had a lot of fun :)

Also, we received the following mail from our Prices & Markets (Game Theory and such) professor. I think it is funny.


Hi everyone:

I forgot to mention one thing in the final session. Some of you may miss the final in which case you are entitled to a make-up exam. Of course that opens up possibilities of strategic considerations.

For instance some may think: "Let me take P&M and OB and I'll postpone Finance & Accounting. That way I can spread out the exams over 2 weeks giving me more time to prepare. That way I can jump to the top of the distribution." Evil laugh here!

Of course, this beats the purpose of the z-score and this would be very unfair to the rest of your classmates who show up on the allotted exam day. To discourage this behavior I always set much harder make-up exams. And I mean harder by leaps and bounds. Of course, this would punish those who are genuinely ill on that day which is again unfair - a double whammy so as to speak. Here is the signal I use to see if you faking: there are 2 exams everyday. If you miss one but make a remarkable recovery to show up for the next one I take this as a sure sign of faking. Then you get a very hard exam. If you miss both, then the makeup exam has the same level of difficulty as the normal final. But we'll make sure that both the makeup exams are on the same day.

A second and perhaps a more powerful incentive to not do this: while your classmates are swimming - in alcohol or otherwise - you will be working.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Singapore beats Fontainebleau again (warning: bragging)

This post will be full of bragging. If you don't like that I suppose you better stop reading now :)

The last two weeks we have been playing some intranet-based Game Theory games. In total there are 90 work groups at INSEAD in P1 (60 in Fontainebleau and 30 in Singapore). These work groups are linked to each other in groups of 3 (so 30 times 3 groups). During these games you compete with the other 2 groups for a bottle of champagne. Actually, everything at INSEAD is about champagne (phone ringing in class: champagne, win a contest: champagne, thank someone: champagne).

Today we got the results: 14 of the 30 bottles of champagne went to Singapore (so that's more than the 10 you would normally expect). However, since Singapore usually wins these games the professors clustered some Singapore groups to compete with other Singapore groups so the groups in Fonty would at least win some bottles. If you divide Singapore and Fonty in fair groups (so at random), we would have won 21 of the 30 bottles. To make it even worse, 5 of the top-5 performing groups are from Singapore and 8 of the top-10. And this happens every year.

Nobody knows why this happens. Are we more cooperative in Singapore (you tend to earn more that way)? Do the people in Fonty have no time to play the game? Or are we just smarter? If we are smarter that doesn't entail much good when it comes to the relative grading of exams (per campus) based on the Z-curve.... If you have no clue what I'm talking about now, just wait until we get back the results of our exams (next Monday till Wednesday) and I will further explain the Z-curve thing. Anyway, I will reward the person that gives me the answer to the question why Singapore always beats Fonty with a bottle of Champagne. You can pick it up at my place in Singapore...

Last bragging point (then I will stop for at least a few posts): if you type in "INSEAD" at Google Blog search this blog will be the first mentioned :) Thanks you all that linked to my website.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Birthdays are cool

Today was my birthday. I already had my first 'congratulation' from my fellow students when they threw me into the pool at last Saturdays' barbecue (it's kinda of a tradition). Check this link if you want to see me being thrown into the pool: Click here to watch 'CIMG2227'
This evening I went for diner with a group to celebrate and I must say I had a very good time. First some normal drinks and then, since there was a Mexican there, we switched to tequila shots. First one, then another, then some more and then the waitress came and said we better take the whole bottle since it would be more cost efficient. As we are all rational MBA students, we couldn't argue with that and took another bottle. Sufficient to say, we had a good time (but please don't send me comments saying that I make a lot of spelling / grammatical errors, as I just came home...).

Today was a good day. Next week will be even better as my girlfriend will come and visit me here :) :)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

So what happened in the last two weeks?

It seems like that some people actually read my Blog as I got a lot of messages saying that I should get out of that bar and start writing again. Ok, sorry, here we go....

Two weeks is a long time at a place like INSEAD, so I'll just give you the quick version. I'll end this post with all the things I heard and found funny in class, as I reckon that people enjoy reading it.

So what did I do?

So far the serious stuff, now here come the funny quotes I heard last two weeks:

In financial accounting


Student answers a question, but his pronunciation is a bit unclear

Professor: "Excellent! It's consolidation. That's what you said in another language, right?"


Professor asks question and a lot of students answer

Professor: "I heard 'yes' and I heard 'no'. I give you a tip: one of them is right"


Professor meets a student that is waiting outside for a taxi at 9pm.

Professor: "Hi buddy, how are you doing?"

Student: "I'm alive..."

Professor: "Don't worry, I'll kill you at the exam"

In Finance class


Professor: "Well, the guy who came up with this CAPM model was an engineer that turned an economist. So for all you engineers here, there's still hope"


Professor: "I'm gonna rely on a little bit of your memory. Hopefully, there's some of it"

In Statistics


Professor: "When making a regression on your weight, not only height, but also sex is important"

Student: "So if you have a lot of sex you will be lighter? And if you're a woman it's the other way around?"

Professor: "Next time, I have an exercise for that..."


Student cannot stop laughing in class.

Professor: "Are you sure you haven't drunk anything this morning? Here, let me give you some extra sample exams."


after looking at the after-MBA salary data from previous classes we found out that an increase in grade point of one will lower your starting salary by EUR 19,000


Professor: "I once had a very bad dream. I got a phone call from a woman with a very sexy voice and then, all of a sudden, she said 'hetroskedasticity'. I woke up sweating."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

120 euro dinner in Bangkok and bombings in Bali

Busy weekend. About 10 of us left the organized environment of Singapore for the total anarchy of Bangkok: awesome!

The trip was a good example of an impulse decision: flight booked at Thursday night, took off at Friday afternoon, found a hotel at Friday night and got totally hammered at a bar we didn’t even know existed.
The next day we walked around the city and saw some of the tourist hot-spots (no pun intended). Of course we also took a traditional Thai massage and I had the pleasure to be massaged by a guy (why did the other 2 get a female masseuse?) that used his elbows and knees to torture me. The last Thai massage I took was 3 years ago and I can tell you that the next one will at least take 3 more years; my muscles still hurt…

Part of the group (the part that already knew they were going to Bangkok a few days in advance) had reserved a restaurant to dine at on Saturday evening. Not knowing about the details of the restaurant, the rest of the group decided to join them. What an experience we got! The restaurant was on top of the highest building in Bangkok (a very fancy hotel) and the bar was outside. About 250 meters above the ground we enjoyed some very expense beers and listened to some easy-listening music. The restaurant is probably the most exclusive one in the whole of Thailand and we definitely discovered that when we saw the prices we were going to pay: a dinner of 120 euro per person. The food was excellent and the company as well (Roger Federer was eating at the table almost next to ours) but the price tag was a bit high. Anyway, you only live once and should have fun. One thing I also found out (again) is that I don’t really like some of the upper class. There were quite a lot of people that just went there just because they were rich and could afford it, but they didn’t have fun. They looked bored, lots of them had way too young girls with them for their age and also treated the staff like shit. “I am rich and everyone should treat me like a king”. Disgusting!

The next day we were just relaxing a bit and getting ready for our flight back to Singapore when something on the news caught our eyes: the terrorist bombings in Bali. We were not the only group of people that went away for the weekend. There was also a group of 10 other INSEAD students (I know all of them) that went to Bali, and also to the exact same place as where the bombings took place. I just found out that they are all safe, but there were quite some insecure hours in the mean time. Terrorist attacks are always terrible, but when it comes this close to your personal life it really affects you.

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