Monday, October 24, 2005
First day of exams is over...
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 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.
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)
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
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?
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?
- I got involved in the organization of the Winter Ball. This is the semi-annual mega party in the most prestigious hotel of Singapore and I'm sure we will all remember this party for a long time.
- I started to dislike the Organization Behavior class. It is getting a bit more of the same and if you're not a girl the OB professor doesn't give you the same opportunities to speak (and no, this is not only the case with me)
- I started to like the Prices and Market even more. We had Game Theory the last two weeks (prisoners' dilemma etc) and also played a intranet based game against the other groups (also from Fonty). It's quite fun when you hear a whole group of grown-ups say: "if they screw us this round, we are going to screw them back so hard they are sorry they were even born"
- I spent a weekend in bed recuperating from some seriously spicy Indian food. The Indian guy advising me to take that particular dish was very happy, as he could now say to the whole class that he took me down.
- I've started giving dancing classes (Latin American and Ballroom) and the first lesson was a big success. Not in terms of quality, but it was fun nonetheless.
- We started with the organization of the Dutch Day and INSEAD will see a day full of typical Dutch rude and political incorrect behavior begin December :)
- I'm organizing an 'Assassin Game' for all the P1 students. In this game, each student gets a card which states his victim and the weapon that he/she must use (e.g. a banana). We've been playing it for a week now, and it's been a lot of fun (lots of paranoid students as well...)
- During all these non-study related things, I also pitched in the occasional hour looking through my books
- The list of electives for P3 till P5 is published and I spent quite some time checking out the classes I want to follow. We have some seriously interesting classes coming up
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"
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
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.