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a baker-holic, choc fanatic, dessert-freak.. yeah and i'm south asian :). A happy member of the Fuqua Class of 2011.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What Fuqua's all about...

I remember when I was applying to Fuqua, I had a hard time finding current student's Fuqua blogs, and not being able to visit the school as I was international (and the ticket was steep!), really left me wishing I could get a glimpse of a current student's life :) So, if any of you are in the same situation, here's a collection of my random thoughts on Fuqua, what makes it stand out amongst other B-schools, and what I've enjoyed about it so far.

Some common topics that you always wonder about:
1) School culture.
"Team Fuqua", yea baby, that's what its all about!

For me, Fuqua's greatest strengths are its focus on Team Fuqua (collaborative, team culture) and diversity. Roughly 40% of our incoming batch is international - and quite diverse - from nationalities, backgrounds, work experiences - everything. We get quite a few people from "non-traditional" backgrounds as well e.g. some of my batchmates are professional sports players, some have done non profit work in Latin America and Africa, some have had their own businesses, some have been school teachers. My favorite so far? Our batch is quite sporty- a professional (ex) NFL player, NBA player, and a tennis player too.

So, what really is Team Fuqua? Well, it basically means that you think as "we", not " I", to put it very simply. It means you should think globally, you cannot succeed individually - have to be able to benefit from and help others along your career and personal growth. The school prizes itself on its team-oriented approach - it's a close knit school. Probably this also has to do with the location - Durham's a small(er) city, sort of like a college town (but not quite), it's very different from the big city life you would get in NYC for example - as a result, you get to socialise with and see more of your classmates much more than I would expect for a larger city.

My favorite? Almost always see a classmate at Super Target when I do my quick 10 minute sprint of picking up some basic groceries or buying folders for the heavy course packs :P

2) What is student life like?
Student life is fast, crazy hectic, diverse, social, stress, fun, food, corporate presentations, friends, cultural activities, blur. It's all that, and much more. Why I find this question tough to answer, is because you really can't put down on paper (oops, blog), the whirlwind of activites that encompass a typical MBA student's day. But anyway, I'll try to be more specific.

One of the things I have enjoyed has been "Fuqua Friday" - basically every Friday, we have a 2 hour social event at school - with a theme. So a few weeks ago, as part of INDUS (South Asian MBA Club), we organised a Diwali Fuqua Friday; other Fuqua Fridays have also been done by other student clubs such as Chinese New Year, Jewish New year, Eid, Oktoberfest etc. It's a great chance to just socialise with your classmates and seniors (its open to 1st year and 2nd year MBAs, plus their families) who you may not have seen on regular weekdays due to the work load. It's also an amazing way of just learning so much about different cultures. The INDUS Fuqua Friday saw a lot of us teaching bhangra to our class mates :)

3) Some cool things?
Okay, so I find these things cool - its pretty subjective.
1) The GATE / GCP trips - I'm doing a GATE (Global Academic Travel Experience) trip to Latin America in March - other locations this year which you could choose from were S. Africa, Russia, China, S.E.Asia and Middle East.

2) Love Durham's greenery. Very pretty.

3) Mentored study opportunities.

4) Habitat for Humanity - any weekend, or whenever you feel like, you can help Fuqua build houses for H4H ( above) - it's pretty cool, plus such a good way of distracting your mind from the usual academic talk.

More later, I guess. Thought I'd throw this out in time for those of you eyeing the R1 deadline in case you had any queries on Fuqua!

Happy to help on any last minute queries, just leave a post.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fuqua - first month!

So , I finally found a free half hour in between events and thought I'd update y'all (apparently y'all is a very Durham/N.Carolina/ Southern-ish phrase, so i'm going to use it!) on life at Fuqua.

To all prospectives, hopefully this should give you a better idea of what b-school is like just as you're approaching your early-D or other deadlines.

So, after orientation, we all had a compulsory 1 month pre-term called "Global Institute" - which basically consists of two courses: Leadership Ethics & Organisations (LEO), and Global Institutions & Environments (GIE). So primarily, we had classes of LEO and GIE every weekday from Mon- Fri (at least thats what I can remember - seems so long ago!)

In a nut shell, what do you learn from the Global Institute?
Well, it's one of the only times when you pretty much get to see the WHOLE of your batch i.e. 450 people, so you can interact with people from other sections as you're all on similar schedules and courses.

In LEO, we learn about basic concepts that managers / employers consider when building organisations such as decision making, motivation, organisational culture, how to have constuctive discussions etc - it's a great course to build up your skill set prior to the "real" b-school classes/ world. We had some fun activities in this, such as Triangle training day - a day where you get to go to an outside resort of sorts, do rock climbing, role playing, balancing on ropes, and other physical activities that really build your knowledge of how working in a team is. e.g. in rock climbing, you (4 people) are all linked to one another from a rope, and so the leader can't move on, because he's limited by the people beneath him (his team) - lesson learnt? one person can't move ahead while others lack, you need to develop as a team. it was also a great opportunity to get to know your team members i n a non-academic setting.

GIE course is more macro- and teaches you concepts of efficiency - how to view different ideas, markets and economies based on their institutions, the level of efficency of institutions etc. i found it quite interesting.

So after the Global Institute, we had a few days break (not really, they had some compulsory career days in between!!), and what ensued was the blur, haze and speed of life, i like to call "B-School".

let me just say one thing - it is SUPER fast. I mean i thought i knew what a hectic life meant, what it means to be busy all day long, but honestly, this is a new level :) it's fun though - as we're just now building onto the summer internship recruiting/company presentation/ student clubs info sessions.

We have team assignments due almost every class, so make sure you have / build a good rapport with your 6/7 member first year team during the Global Institute. This team is the one you will work on for ALL courses and ALL team assignments until Jan of your first year. The teams are formed randomly, and they try to ensure there is diversity of background, work experience and academic experience in each team.

e.g. in my FY team of 6 people, there are 3 Americans and 3 Internationals. Our cumulated work experiences and backgrounds span the US, Latin America, Japan, Europe, China, S. Asia and parts of Africa as well - now that is what Fuqua really is all about - diversity.

So that's me for now - i'm off to run an info session with Second Years to learn more about what their summer internships were.

By the way - in case any of you prospectives have any specific questions on Fuqua or life at Fuqua, feel free to write a post and I'll reply to your queries.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fuqua finally!

Just wanted to let you know (provided I still have blogger readers :)) i'm still alive, and very much living through orientation O-week... not just that, but i'm loving it so far!! The past 2 days (orientation is 3 days long, so we have had the first 2 so far), have been crazy, fun, hectic, partying, and well, even more hectic. it's really been amazing - my initial thoughts on Fuqua, Team Fuqua, the resources, the expectations, and what orientation has to offer are to follow soon ( i promise!).

I'm surviving on 4 hours of sleep per night (for the past 2 nights), so it's difficult writing all my initial thoughts right now! Hoping to put forth something in a few days (or once i get a good nap), on this blog! 
Stay posted, and Fuqua rocks :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Coming to America :)

In our part of the world, America is oft thought of as 'the land of opportunities' or the 'greener side' of the grass :) And so, as time has just flown by , I am now in the US! The last few weeks had me overwhelmed and so caught up with packing, shopping, packing, sleeping, learning how to cook basic stuff, getting my driver's license updated, buying cds of my favorite music, and basically packing once again!

And so, the weeks really sped by, until it came to my departure flight, and I realised it really has been long since I blogged the updates of my journey. And for some odd reason, the murmurs of 'Going to America' by Neil Diamond flashed through my head as I boarded my flight. Corny, eh? :d

For now, I'm spending a vacationary week in New York, before I head to Durham. the few days in Durham before classes start should be good enough to settle in, buy furniture, basic apartment stuff and all. 

I've been to new york about twice before, for 2-3 weeks, so I'm not doing the typical touristy stuff of going to statue of liberty, and seeing the museums. but boy, I really do love the museums, particularly the one on natural history. Anyway, so this week is more about relaxing, spending a rainy day at a small cafe in brooklyn with a good book, walking around, enjoying some of the sales at macy's :P , and taking life a little slow. Any suggestions on fun stuff to see while I'm here though would be much appreciated!!

Things on my list for now are seeing the new Highline park in Manhattan and seeing a play at Broadway.

Stay tuned for my life in Durham, Fuqua, and the MBA-life as it engulfs me only next week!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's been a while...

It's been a while since I last blogged. 2 weeks almost i think. Wow, so much has happened in these 2 weeks.

For starters, the panic mode is starting to kick in a little. Not a lot, just a little. Not really panic either, more of the realization that henceforth starts my last month at home, in this phase of life. :)

Other than that, the past two weeks have had me both elated and grieved. Elated, i say, because we won the ICC 20-20 World Cup, and in doing so, we won our first major cricket trophy after 17 years. Wow, that really was great. It was actually amazing seeing how sport (and at that cricket!) seems to unite people and give them something to be happy about!

In other news, Michael Jackson passed away. And with his death, he took away a generation's childhood. As I watched the TV programs re-living his life, his songs, his legend, I related each of his songs to a phase of our lives, of the times when we first heard his songs. I wish I could have heard him live in concert though, I'm sure he would have been phenomenal. Despite all the controversies and scandals that engulfed his life in the past decade or so, I do know this - he truly was a legend. It's really not often that you come across an artist, a musician, a singer who can make his/her mark across the whole world. MJ did just that. 

:) More later!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ain't nothing but a Summer Jam...

This ain't nothing but a summer jam....bronze skin and cinnamon tans....ohh...

Man I love that song (yes i know it's gotten old, but every summer i still feel like listening to it!!). And so it's June already - the *almost* peak of the summer. I'd say mid June - mid July starts off the worst time - the unbearable heat, the stifling heat, the long afternoon naps that are so hard to resist. But with the heat, the sweat, and the passing of another season, something good does come. And not just good, but heavenly good. I'm talking about the mangoes.

Man, I could write a whole blog series on the mangoes. The mangoes of the sub-continent are famous for their rich aroma, their addictive sweetness, the soft pulpy flesh, and the varied kinds that exist. So that's what summer signifies for me.

On other fronts, my MBA preparations are still going. I'm learning to cook the food's I'll miss most. I'm expecting a CD in June, which will have a pre-course work program (Math and stuff) we're all supposed to do before starting Fuqua. So, yea, looking forward to that - i really need to get used to this study routine! After such a break from studies, getting used to the work routine, I'm wondering whether it will be easy to adjust the back-to-school (studying) life. Hm, well only time will tell.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Celebratory MBA chocolate cake!!!

There are various kinds of chocolate cakes - there's the kind you crave for at midnight, then the one you crave after lunch, the one you crave when you're feeling low, the kind you crave when you want to reminisce about your childhood... and finally, there's the one you crave while enjoying your pre-MBA celebrations :)

So here it is! For me, this is it - the cake I'd have (and have had...yummm!) to celebrate my MBA. I can just taste the rich chocolatey icing, the nicely textured cakey slice, the intense chocolate after-taste, and the ensuing feeling of satiety. 
This is a tried-and-tested recipe. I (and many others) have made it for many many years now - it's a safe, chocolate bet. Follow the recipe and trust me, you won't go wrong. Oh, one more thing, i hate cake recipes that use 'xox cake mixes, instant puddings and so on'.  I like cakes that are made from scratch - you feel a greater sense of achievement :D
So, without much ado, here it is:
(Source: Hamlyn's cookbook)
4 oz. plain flour
1.5 tea spoon baking powder
0.25 tea spoon salt
1.5 oz. cocoa
4 oz. butter
4 oz sugar
2 eggs, blended
1 tablespoon milk
For icing:
1.5 oz butter
1 oz cocoa
3-4 tablespoons milk
4 oz. icing sugar
(The picture I took of the cake I made, utilized 2 times this recipe). 
Sieve together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs a little at a time, beating well. Fold sieved ingredients into mixture with milk. Mix well. Turn into greased tin. Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 170-180 C/ 375 F until centre of sponge springs back when lightly pressed (you can stick a fork in to test if done - if fork comes out clean, then cake is ready). 
Icing: Melt butter for icing. Add cocoa. Cook over low heat for 1-1.5 minutes. Add milk and sugar, and cook over low heat until you get a creamyish icing. Note: Add the sugar to suit your taste, as 4 oz may be too excessive. I usually go with about 2-2.5 oz  sugar for the icing.
Spread the slightly warm icing on the relatively cooled down cake. ENJOY!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A new phase...

So I had my last day at work, and it's now finally all fitting in...but what is it about last days (anywhere) that just makes them so weird! That unexplainable, almost conundrum-ic feeling you get, knowing this is the end of an era, a phase of your life...whether it's your existing job, your college, or even saying goodbye to a friend who's moving to another city or place.. you know things will have to change inevitably.  so that's pretty much the same for me. My last day made me realize I really have learnt quite a bit from my recent job, grown personally, and enhanced my professional network. 

The initial feeling was one of exhilaration as I felt I was a free bird, no longer a captive of the corporate slave-hours! Hehe, this feeling was short-lived though. My fourth day of being free and I'm actually wondering how to kill time.. there is quite a lot of stuff i have to get down to doing, such as immunization, sorting out what to take along, what to shop, filling out some Fuqua forms et al, but this lack of a daily routine is making me oh-so-lethargic!

Oh well, tomorrow's another day right. I will not procrastinate tomorrow. haha. i've been reading a book, one which is claimed to be a book you HAVE to read in your life : One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's not the book, i guess it's me, but i just haven't been finding the motivation to read it/ finish it. I need a fast paced, action thriller, un-put-down-able book right now. any suggestions? 

I read Grisham's "The Associate" a month or two ago. enjoyed it - i actually read it while at an airport, and i have to say Grisham's excellent for airports/ long journeys. 

I've been getting a few requests for a celebratory MBA cake recipe. :) i have taken heed of that and promise it in my next post! yea for chocolateness in life :)

this has turned out to be a random non-MBAish post, but then i guess this is the start of my new job-free-until-MBA-starts phase!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Lost Generation...

I have a lot of free time on my hands (yes, i've resigned from work, and am just serving my notice period).. i get done 31st may! you would think that since these are my last few weeks, i would be swamped with work, leave late and have a stressful life. Not at all actually.

Surprisingly, work has slowed down a lot, i actually have a little too much free time now. Not that i don't enjoy it - my gym-ing activities have started again. Although i have realised something, the free time you value when you're working in a rigourous 9-to-6 or whatever time routine (unofficially) you have at work, that feeling of high on the weekend is just unbelievable. .. I now have a whole two months to enjoy and plan, before the journey starts on 1 Aug.. actually the journey will start much earlier, what with immunizations, visas, accomodation, pre-coursework and planning on living in the US, i'd say the journey is already on full swing :)

Anyway, so what with the free time, my mind finds itself wandering and pondering various random thoughts... what's been bugging me for some time, is what i like to call "The Lost Generation"....here's how i define them:

See when all of us grew up, we had hobbies. Now, the way i see it, a hobby is an activity that you indulge in for leisure. It's an activity you take up in your free time, something to look forward to, a passion even. Some of the common hobbies are taking up sports, reading, collecting stamps or coins, painting, learning a craft, cooking, baking and so on. But for the generation of today, the kids who will grow up (or have already grown up prematurely), it all boils down to one thing - FACEBOOKING. Urgh. Facebooking is a hobby? Is it really? I mean seriously!! But honestly, if children/teenagers today spend all their free time on Facebook, chatting, joining x group, thinking whether to accept xx friendship request, what else would you call it? A hobby. A very sad hobby though.

Sigh. As much as I love technology, the Internet, Youtube, Facebook and the world of cell phones, i can't help but look back on my childhood. To start off with, none of us had cell phones. The world of missed calls, sms-ing, rejecting a person's phone call didn't exist :P It had a charm though - a certain freedom. You could do what you liked, unwatched, unaware. Now, it's just plain creepy - the stranger next to you on an aeroplane or bus could be google-ing you or facebooking your account to see who he(she) is sitting next to... or worse, they could be taking your picture with the oh-so-sleek camera of their cellphone and you wouldn't even know it!

So here it is - an ode to the lost generation; the kids of today who will never know the joy of playing CaromBoard, Risk, Cluedo, cards with their family; of meeting a stranger and knowing nothing about them; of reading books, painting on a summer afternoon; of calling your friends on their home phones; of not knowing who is calling you when you pick up the phone; of technology-innocence and simplicity.

:) Magical, the times we used to live in, eh?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Long distance Apartment-hunting...

So finally I won't be sleeping off the pavement in Durham :) I decided on an apartment and submitted the holding fees! Phew - what a relief! Honestly, the pre-apartment research was grueling (and might i mention a bit stressful). Here's why :

Majority of Fuqua students live off-campus. Apparently Durham is not really a city you can explore by foot - you do need a car to get around. So I weighed the options - the standard apartment complexes 8 minutes drive from campus, or the pricey complex within walking distance, but known as party central? Anyway despite being not able to attend the Blue Devil Admit Weekend, and do the apartment tour they had that day, I feel like I already know what it would look like. The magic word - the Internet.

The 2 or 3 areas I had shortlisted, provided me with complete information such as amenities available, 3D views of the rooms, floor plans etc. The Facebook group for the incoming students has also been pretty useful as seniors have given their thoughts / experiences on the apartments as well.

I'm all set now - decided on a roommate, exchanged a few emails with her to see if our living habits would match, and seems pretty good till now :) So now that I know i'll be staying somewhere for my Fuqua days, I feel like i'm finally going.

I do plan on cooking a bit (provided there is time), perhaps on alternate weekends or something.. I don't know. however, i've decided to refresh some of the recipes i'll be needing the most and the ones which I know i'll miss the most!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Preparing for Takeoff !!

So the way I see it, going (abroad) for an MBA is pretty much like a pilot preparing for takeoff. The feeling of nervousness, last minute butterflies in the stomach, excitement, restlessness... it's pretty much what I would expect a pilot to go through before a flight. Hm.. then again perhaps I wouldn't really want to be sitting on a plane where the pilot is feeling jittery and slightly nervous :D hehehe

See I always thought that the hardest part would be the MBA apps.. and so, when I completed those, was lucky enough to be admitted, I thought, wow this is it... now I can sit back and relax..welll... I just had a big laugh at myself for actually thinking this. For now, as the destination has suddenly become oh-so-clearer, I'm swamped with things to do, preparing to go abroad and much much more!

I don't know if domestic US students are going through all the paperwork, housing worries and preparation that international ones have to. Perhaps, perhaps not. You see, for an international student I guess the process is a bit longer as it's about relocating your stuff, belongings, thoughts, view on life, social network, support structure to a new place, a new country for 2 years. It's part of the process, the MBA journey - and that's also what makes it so exciting!

Here's a short list of to-do things that I guess would help international applicants (especially those for whom its going to be the first trip living in the US).

1) Branching out, Finding out: Once your'e admitted, and have decided to attend school x, start networking. Find out as much as you can about the school, the location, surrounding locations, airport, facilities available as you can. It's going to be a long process, so it would be best to start soon. In my case, I've started contacting current 1st year students, alumni, my MBA interviewer, International Housing staff, Facebook groups, other MBA applicants, and have really learnt quite a lot about Durham and Fuqua from them. The web can really be a great resource - I haven't ever been to Durham, North Carolina, and yet I have a great image of how I expect it to be from:
1) The University website
2) The town's official website - in my case, Durham's official website. Even got a free magazine from them about things to do, where to shop & dine in Durham! Cool :)
3) Facebook - ah, finally I like Facebook again! Here's why - by joining your school's MBA Class of 2011, or the International Student's Class of 2011 and so and so Facebook Group, you can sit wherever you are, and discuss housing, living and everything with mentors, future friends and other people in your situation.

2) Vying for Visa: This is probably one of the biggest headache's - visa. It's ok though, really. We're all in the same boat. We will all get it :) But it's good to speed up the process (if you can), figure out how long it's going to take you, and yes, always have a plan B.

3) Housing: Most business school's don't really have on-campus graduate housing. I may be wrong, but at least at Fuqua, 99% or so of the students live off-campus. So here are things you need to start figuring out right away: What kind of housing do you want - on campus or off campus? What locality? What location - do you want a family friendly housing or a party place? Do you want a single room or a roommate? When should you start booking in advance? How much rent are you willing to spend on the room / apartment? Will the housing have live-in facilities such as laundry, furnishing or will you need to do all this yourself? What kind of roommate do you want (if so)?

4) Immunisation Incentives: Make sure you get all your immunisations done. Fuqua's pretty good about this and has a whole list of immunisations required from international students on their Duke wbebsite. Check with your school in advance - if you're free, might as well get it done now.

5) Health care / health insurance: Needless to say, if you fall sick, you need to know where to go :) Sure the home-made remedies of chicken soup, Joshanda, or herbs could work for a flu. But in case it gets prolonged, you should be prepared.

6) Planning a budget and arranging for finances: Look at living expenses in detail. The universities usually provide an item by item estimated expense. See if your budget would allow for this. Else, figure out how you're going to manage it. If you intend on saving or living with spouse/kids, you need to make provisions beforehand.

7) Cell phone / connection: Decide which cell phone / connection to get. This is also an aspect where current students could help you out.

8) Computer Cruise: After browsing Fuqua's recommendations for computers, I just realised that my Mac may not be such a great option for Fuqua. Oh damn. Apparently, not all their softwares are Mac workable, or even workable for Windows installed in Mac. Figure out computer, laptop, internet options.

9) Transport tour - Decide what you're going to do about transport. Are you going to have a car? Are you going to rely on public transport or car pool? In this case, housing becomes important - perhaps you want to look at an apt near the bus routes / or parking spots.

10) Gearing up your Goals: Figure out what you want from your MBA - See once the MBA starts, you'll be too caught up to realise how it's heading. Decide in advance, what you want to get out of your MBA - for some it could be a job in Pvt equity, or Financial Services, for others it could be about the global exposure, for even others it could just be about networking, or making new friends. I'm sure we've all done this in detail for the actual MBA essays / apps, but hey, it doesn't hurt to re-visit the goals.

11) Pre-course work: Fuqua has a Math Software that we're all supposed to revise / refresh before school actually starts. Check with your school if there's something similar.

12) And finally.... RELAX!! This is the pre-best time of your life :P Quit work, resign, travel, do what makes you happy, enjoy the me-time, hang out with friends. You've done half the work (getting admitted) - now enjoy - you deserve it!

All the best, till my next post! and yes.... before I forget... a big Congrats to all fellow winners of the Clear Admit's BoB contest! Thank you Clear Admit, Judges and fellow voters for making this
Number 7 in the best of blogging applicant category and others!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Last day for BoB voting!

Last day for voting for Best of Blogging is 24 April, 09, so do be sure to get your votes in! (no matter whom they are for! although my blog would feel honored to receive some votes :)).. i always believe one should participate actively - whether by voting or making a choice depending on the situation.. so fellow bloggers, if you have been chosen as one of the lucky 50 nominees (25 applicants, 25 students) for Clear Admit's BoB awards, do be sure to make your voice heard :)

In other news, work is starting to drag now. What is it about change that suddenly makes time go by slowly. I mean time really flew by when we were all busy with the B-school applications.. And then things got slow at the time of results.. then things picked up again once admissions were done.. and now things look a little slow once again :S

However, I know this is just momentary.. this precious time will also fly by and before we know it, we'll all be starting our MBA experiences!

We will probably look back on this free time, so here's how to make the most of it:

-Read.. read books, magazines, fiction, travellogues, news headlines, editorials. Whatever makes you happy.
- Eat.. hahah okay I know I know, we will get food there, but what I meant was: Eat food which you have wanted to have and never got around to .. like your aunt / mom / grandma's food or something. or even food you make yourself! now is the time to learn new recipes, cook, eat and enjoy!
- Stay fit - we will all need to be mentally and physically alert to tackle the gruelling coursework and ofcourse the myriad student clubs out there! so go gym, swim, play tennis, badminton, even table-tennis is a sport after all :D
- Follow sports - The IPL has just regained momentum, for all the cricket fans over here..
- Blog: I hope we'll all spare time for our busy lives to stay up to date.. I for one, would love to keep hearing about what my fellow bloggers are doing, and what activities they are busy with.
- Sleep: Who doesn't need their 8 hours of sleep? Actually, I think the whole 8 hour sleep theory is really a myth - it's totally subjective. For all you sleep-needers though, sleep all you can..

Hahah! So yea, thats my list of to-do things.. could do with some suggestions though :)

Good luck voting!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A snapshot of Ghana!

As promised.. here's a recap of my trip to Ghana...

1) The people: Okay, so what striked me most - was the fact that Ghanians are extremely friendly. Everywhere you go, they will say ' Hello, my friend', and 'Hello, how are you'.. in markets, in tourist areas, almost everywhere I went. There are a lot of foreigners in Accra (the capital of Ghana), who are working in the telecom sector, and a lot of NGO crowd as well. Ghana is considered the NGO hub in West Africa, as its one of the safest countries in West Africa.

Second thing that struck me was the security. Not lack of it - but the fact, that our views of Africa are just so brainwashed by what see on TV. Ghana is one of the safest places in Africa - whether nationals, or foreigners, you would never see any one complaining about crime.What I did find very interesting is that in the huge open markets, particularly, when they see a non-African person, they call them 'obruni' - white man.

Interesting, how despite globalization, and liberalisation particularly in the US, all foreigners - whether from China, Australia, Canada, or even the Sub-Continent, are simply referred to as obrunis.From my short interaction and observations, I did notice one thing remarkable about their culture - they are genuinely happy-go-lucky. I really do think its an art - learning how to stay happy and actually remaining happy. Whether it was the massive open markets of Makola, Agbobloshie or Kneshie, or the roads of Osu, it's easy to notice how festive and lively the people were. Music and dance are part of their culture. In fact, I even saw a funeral (they call it fyuneeyaah), where they were dancing and celebrating the life of the person who passed away.

Another interesting observation - the women tie the babies on their backs, and all the people who are selling something on the roads / markets, carry the commodity on their heads.

2) Food: Well the most common food items present everywhere I went were pawpaw (papaya), plantains, and yam. The pawpaws are truly heavenly - I loved the orange peach color, the texture and the lovely fruity aroma that just adds so well to the overall experience. I saw roasted rats, bats, cow skin, had some local fried plantain chips.. didn't have quite the heart to try the bats, rats and other stuff though... phew.

3) Wildlife / Scenery:
Wow. Not only is Ghana really green, but its landscape is just so diverse. I spent time on beautiful beach resorts of Busua beach, Axim beach among others, with a lovely view of the greenish Atlantic Ocean. The facilities were superb, got extremely tanned though! And in complete contrast, while heading to the Volta region, I was surrounded by valleys, lakes, mountains - simply amazing. Lake Volta is massive, and runs through the Volta Region. We saw Akosombo Dam, and did some nice speed-boating as well.

The highlights of my trip would definitely be:

1) Re-living the Ghanian/ African history by going to Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle - these two slave castles are a bone-chilling experience. We had excellent guides, saw the doors of no return, went inside the male and female dungeons, saw the punishment rooms, and even saw the wells where the slaves were given water from. They say mroe than a million Africans were shipped to North and South America in the 16th-18th centuries in exchange for cotton, rice and other commodities. It's really quite an expereince to walk through the same doors, look at the castle and try to imagine what those people must have gone through.

2) The canopy walk at Kakum National Park - saw some beautiful butterflies, animal species and just loved the canopy walk in the rainforest.

3) Wli Falls: Tucked away in the Volta Region - these waterfalls are beautiful. After a long drive from Accra, and then a long walk to the actual waterfalls, you really feel awed. If you look up, you see literally millions of bats, as its also a bat sanctuary. I was lucky enough to see my 1st rainbow at the Wli Falls. Simply stunning.

These are just a few of the highlights from the Ghana trip - I'd definitely recommend it. I guess what I really valued about it was how different it was when compared to vacations in the U.S or Europe. No big flashy billboards. No McDonalds, Starbucks, big multinational brands. Just pure, pristine scenic and wildlife beauty.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back from Ghana and Nominee for Best of Blogging!!

My blogger friends,
I'm back back back! Well the excitement says it all - just got back yesterday from an amazing trip to Ghana - with visits to Accra, Cape Coast, Elmina, Volta Region, Busua, Axim and much more.. I can't believe the 2 week vacation sped by so quickly, although I must admit - I did miss my blogging!

My detailed travellogue, experience and things I noticed about Ghana, their people, their culture, their arts, music, dance, nature and wildlife will follow in the next post or so (once I recover fully from the long flight's jet-lag). However, I can safely say .... It was great!! Did quite some adventurous touring, took a lot of pictures which I will also try sharing here for the benefit of fellow bloggers / tourists aspirants to Ghana.

In other news, I'm all set for Fuqua. My seat has been secured via a healthy tuition deposit :) and now's the time to start thinking about housing, visa, etc etc and the list goes on.

Oh yeah, and more news.... My blog got nominated for ClearAdmits Best of Blogging 2009!!!!! Wow!! It was quite a surprise, considering I'm new to blogging, but I must say, I agree with MissionMBA on the thrill one gets in seeing their blog named in Fridays from the Frontline and getting recognition .. Let's hope this blog gets its first win as well :)

It's been great blogging, sharing the woes and wins of MBA apps and stressful waiting with other people... More to follow soon, keeping fingers crossed!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

waitlist at chicago

yup there it is..waitlisted at chicago booth :) so i think my decisions are more or less made.. i like the clarity of knowing where you're going.. duke fuqua it is. 

looking forward to my vacation now starting in just 2 days. woooohooo can't wait. one of the best parts is the movies you get to see on the long emirates flights :)

viva la ghana!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

V for vacation and W for waitlist..

So the W part first.. i got waitlisted from Cornell Johnson. no biggie though as I feel Duke Fuqua is more my type compared to Johnson. What I did find a bit strange / impersonal was that there was no email notification of your status. Nothing. You had to remember the notification date (yourself) and log into the system and check your status. Really, after the application fees and all the effort, I would have appreciated it on email at least!

and now for the V:
Vacation time! With 1 admit and hopefully (if all goes well) financing and other issues resolved, I feel it's time to vacation.. okay so there's still a lot of stuff going on, but i decided to take an early vacation.. and so I'm heading over to Accra, Ghana in a few weeks.

Am very excited, as it's the first time I'm heading over to Africa. Any suggestions / feedback from fellow bloggers who have been to Accra are much welcome! Any must-sees that are recommended?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cornell Johnson Interview..

So get this.. Johnson's results are announced on March 18th (i think), and they are apparently interviewing up til March 17th! wow! anyway so I was just notified last week of an interview invite, and I scheduled it.. here's a re-cap:

I had my Johnson (Cornell) interview last night, which lasted for 40 minutes. It was on the phone with an ad-com representative, and was a blind interview. The questions were pretty routine:

-Why MBA, why now, what are your post-MBA plans
- Discussion on your career to date, what roles you have had, skills learned etc
- example of a time when you had a conflict in team and how you reacted to it
- example of a leadership situation - where you had to convince a colleague or team about something they disagreed with
- Why Cornell.. this I feel is the most important aspect for Johnson. They really want to see how motivated you are to attend Johnson, whether you'll be a good fit, and whether you actually have an idea of what they prize themselves on
- What 3 adjectives would I use to describe you to the Admissions committee 
-What student clubs are you interested in
- What Immersion Program will you join
- Any questions for me

Basically, I spoke to a few friends who are current MBA students / alums before my interview, and also got a feel from them regarding the community, culture, opportunities, Cornell's strengths etc. Made sure to mention this in the interview, and the ad-com person was quite happy to hear that I actually knew people studying there.. I think they really want you to know as much about the school as you can at this stage.. 
A few points I think any Cornell prospective should consider discussing are:
-it's extremely collegial, small, collaborative community. average class size is roughly 260 only, so you know everyone on campus. you don't feel lost.
- Strength of immersion programs
- Cornell connections - you benefit from overall Cornell University's resources, curriculum, activities etc.
- Brand name
- Strong alumni network

:) Good luck to other prospectives!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Accepted at Fuqua!!!

So remember my Duke result was (much) awaited.. well I finally got it, and here it is: ACCEPTED!!!! woohooo! am really happy now that it's finally sunk in!

The tension before was almost unbearable, got a weird nervousness, butterflies in stomach and all that... the Businessweek forum suddenly became quite a happening place as all of us in the same boat, tried to pass time and bet on when exactly the result would come out :P lols..

anyway so yeah , somewhere around 12.00 noon ET (night time where I live) I got an email from Fuqua telling me to check my status .. in the email was another link, and finally I clicked to see a nice-looking admissions letter open!! :)

Went a little numb initially so it took time for the words to get absorbed in the mind :) many congrats to fellow-Fuqua admittees, and best of luck to all others... here's to the 1st woo-hoo of this MBA process..

Monday, March 9, 2009

Time after some Time...

I used to love that song.. 'Time after time' by Cyndi Lauper, when I was a kid. .. somehow the 80s songs are just so unique, don't you guys think so? And that ever-favorite classic 'girls just wanna have fun'.. anyway, so i saw another great program yesterday on the travel channel. its called planet food, and it basically links great scenery, great places with great(looking) food. yum. my kind of program!

anyway so yesterday they focused on greece, and particularly 'cretan food' which is supposed to be one of the healthiest diets in the world, due to the reliance on olive oil and fresh veggies. pretty interesting.

in other news, i just realised yesterday that i have been more-or-less dinged by Johnson (Cornell), as their final decision is released on march 18th, and all admitted people have prior interviews. Considering the fact that i still haven't been called for an interview, i think it's time to put the missing pieces together :) anyway thats okay. there's really no way of figuring out what clicks for x school vs x school. I guess they do have some kind of deciding factor, although i believe that to a certain extent, it all comes down to luck. fate, or kismet.

As you all know, the d-day for duke-dom is approaching. 1 day away as i speak. yeahh :) finally the wait will be over, and i can either cross another one off the list or make a nice :) next to it. hehe.

I've lined up a 2 week vacation in end March. Phew!

Fellow bloggers, would love if you can predict which continent & country i am going for on a vacation :) HINT: its not easy! but still, bring on the comments and guessing!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Post-application stress reliever

So I have nothing much new to report (since my last post was just a few days ago), yet I still felt the urge to write. The recent sporting fiasco vis a vis sub-continent cricket has put me in a bit of a downer-mood and that's having an impact on my thought process :P I guess I am trying to mentally prepare myself for the 'ding' (or was it ring?) awaiting me in a few days... sheesh, I wish this tension would just go away! 

Tried watching ' Doubt' and man is that one slow movie. So here's to a stress-free tomorrow. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

And then there were eight...

I had a flashback of that murder mystery today.. 'And then there were none' by Agatha Christie.. funny, huh, how counting the days till March 10 (D-Day for my Duke Fuqua app) reminded me of that book... so yea, here it is. 8 days to go till I get my 1st 'decision'.

It's been a long walk though. Still remember the Duke deadline and how I was so relieved when I submitted the application. phew. that kind of relief is just phenomenal. i guess what follows stress is often relief. who can forget the stressful days of thinking of what to write in applications, mulling over how to write it, how to make it look /sound good, and how to edit it...oh man, am i so glad that's over!

anyway so despite this anxious sounding blog, i guess it's okay. if i've waited 54 days already (jan 7th onwards), then i guess 8 more really can't hurt. 

in other news, I had a fun-filled weekend.. meeting old friends, gym-ing, snoozing, movie-watching, organizing a surprise party and yea, relishing some yum desserts!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crawling Towards Spring!

it seems like spring is in the air..there's a light chill, sporadic winter rainfall still going on.. the weather's still slightly cold, but i can sense the change. it's spring.

i wonder who named the seasons we have. it's actually quite interesting if you sit and start wondering about the origin of various things. you'd reach at conclusions that would surprise you for sure. saw a great program on tv yesterday, on travel channel called planet food. it highlighted how 'spices' have changed the way we live, and have made us truly global. chillies from mexico, saffron from spain, vanilla from mauritius..amazing! recounting the days back in the 15th and 16th centuries when the world was actually fighting over spices, and comparing it to what the world is fighting over now... quite a stark contrast.

let's hope the changing weather, trends of globalization and what not bring good news for all of us this spring..

on a light note.. have you guys ever wondered if talking about the weather was banned or made taboo, what would happen to conversations across the globe! happy thinking ;)

Friday, February 20, 2009

no news is......what news?

So yale and cornell still haven't gotten back.. and here's where i'm questioning the age-old wisdom of "no news is good news".. ah, well, the people who coined that phrase definitely weren't mba applicants!

oh well, there's still plenty of stuff to do while waiting i guess. met a client today who thought an mba degree is useless. its funny though when you run into people like that. you start to doubt yourself when people tell you mbas have flooded all the markets, and that its no longer a distinguishing factor. hmm. 

came across something new today. isn't it great discovering new things? 'kinesis routine' is what i learnt today from my gym instructor. it's the new routine to make muscles, tone yourself and the works. pretty interesting stuff... although i have to admit, i think i prefer the good ole treadmill, stepper and cycle... :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Boothing the Booth

So I don't know why I chose the subject as that, but i guess it kind of goes :)

So here it is, my recent Chicago Booth interview experience!

As I'm an international applicant, and Booth could not find any available alumni in my country, I had a phone interview with an admissions representative. We set up the time and date well in advance.. and here's what the conversation was like (about 35 mins long); no surprises, usual MBA interview questions -

-Why MBA?
-Why Now?
-Tell me about yourself starting off with early years.
-Why did you switch from x job to x job?
-What surprised you when moving from x job to x job?
-Why Booth?How would you contribute?
-What do you outside of work?
-Why do you want to come all the way to America? :)
-ST and LT goals?
-What student clubs are you interested in?
- Any questions for me? (I had quite a few)

Some interesting questions I remember are:
- How do you think the work environment / work culture would be different in the US compared to x country (where I am from).
- Where else have you travelled in the world?

We even had a brief discussion on New York, as a city :P so all in all, was quite interesting..
the interviewer was friendly, relaxed and an easy conversationalist..

My advice to any future applicants / interview awaitees would be...have smart questions to ask at the end..be well prepared, re-read your essays and app.. look up previous interview experiences from accepted.com and clear admit.. the most important thing is to be yourself and know WHY you will be a great fit at Chicago Booth! :)

ciao :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Ever since i got done with the writing part i.e. ESSAYS of the MBA apps, ive started feeling so free! its like i have lots of time at my hands to do all i wanted to do when sacrificing time for the mba process... ah it sure does feel good having some free time!
here's some of the stuff ive re-started / indulged in since Jan:
-Reading a lot of books
- catching up on my long list of movies.. speaking of which, what did fellow bloggers think of slumdog millionare and curious case of benjamin button? i really do get why both have been nominated for best movie.. my bet's on slumdog millionaire!
- swimming! aahh what ayy life :) its the most relaxing activity
-gym-ing: this is how my waiting-for-decision-frustration is taken out!
- baking: new recipes, lots of time, good fun..
-...and lastly, work...sigh going to office seems so hard every morning..what is it about winters that just deem sinking into a warm quilt the best thing to do...

:) so thats one way of spending the time until waiting for the MBA decisions!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend prep

spoke to a Booth alum to find out more about the student life at Chicago.. sounds fun... the city seems great, very diverse. i visited it this summer, and really found it to be just that - very multicultural.. apparently there are quite a few cool student / extra curric activities out there..nice!

in other news, am waiting on my booth interview now, which is scheduled for later this week. lets hope that goes well. the weekend went by so quickly though, what is it with times these days, its running too fast!

Friday, February 6, 2009

wiling away the days..

Time seems to be passing by so fast.. its actually a bit strange.. other bloggers speak of how time has slowed down after the app process, but for me it's just the opposite! i can't believe its already february and we have just 1-1.5 month to hear back on final decisions! yikes! things at work are also quite busy, hence the busy-ness.. no complaints though, its much better than being free!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Fuqua interview experience

Had my interview with a Fuqua alumni today.. lasted about 40 mins.. overall, was pretty much what I was expecting.. no big surprise questions...

The usual stuff.. Why MBA, Why x school, Why finance (thats what i want to do), How has your experience been working at x and x firms, how did you find a change in work culture between x and x (i switched to a new place recently). what kind of a role do you take in teams, tell about a time when you faced a conflict, how will you contribute to Fuqua, if your friends were to describe you in 3 sentences, what would they say..

Some interesting questions i remember are.. if you had a free day to spend, how would you spend it.. outlook for financial industry in the next 12 months, what was the last book you read and what did you like about it :)

My advice to any prospective Fuqua applicants is to know thyself - know your strengths and weaknesses.. re-read your essays, application, resume.. read up on past interview experiences on Clear Admit and Accepted.. it really helps!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

preparing for interviews

so chicago booth got back and said they dont have any alumni interviewers in my country.. seems like it will have to be a phone interview then? as for the fuqua one, its coming up this week, and i still have to really prepare for it well..

fingers crossed...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Interview invites!!

So here goes... I got interview invite from Fuqua last week and am really excited about it! Been reading up a lot on it, and hope it goes well..

On another note, received an interview invite from Chicago Booth just a few minutes ago!! :) The system is acting up and not showing any interviewer in my country...wonder if any one else is facing the same problem? Any tips, people?

My 1st blog

So, i'm new to the world of blogging..have been reading up quite a bit on others' blogs and finally got inspired to try my own!

just some stuff about me and my voyage to an mba :)