Monday, January 08, 2007

A tale of two Singaporeans

Day 1 on Campus. Singapore is welcoming a record number of MBA participants: 154 or so incoming, and us 280+. The building is gorgeous; I just love the auditorium, the library. Service is ok, but Fonty has nothing to be ashamed of. True, people greet, smile, and thank you using your given names over here, but they still managed to lose a fax from the machine to my pigeonhole...

P1s and P3s have not started to mingle. P1s are busy knowing each other, and we are busy wishing everyone a good year, and getting to know our hosts. There are some aliens too: Whartonians and Students from ACCD (something like Art College of Design). Right now, unfortunately, there's not so much exchange.

Day 1 we had the beginning of core courses too. I think I'm going to die... Information System Management was so-so. I hope the Prof. will be able to muster something more substantial soon.

As to Macroeconomics, well, I don't deny that it could be useful. But, people either have dealt with it before (I mean, if at 30 you don't have notions of GDP, exchange rates...), or it's too superficial to really touch us in depth. It's like, how useful can Mills and Boon of economic policy can be? Anyway, we'll see. Supposedly the Prof. got the best teacher award in 2006. So I'll wait and see, but it does not smell good.

Tonight, it's as if I learned more in the street that at School. I went to collect my cheque back from my previous landlady. We made peace -well, I'm being a network beast- I was too happy that she gave me back the full amount, and that we parted in good terms. She told me about her achievements, and how her MBA she got it from life, not INSEAD. As a proof, she showed me her connections (President of this, Minister of that..) and her achievements (a beautiful resort in Indonesia). She also shared her insights about her model: work with the community, her tactics with corruption-ridden countries (shhhhhh). There was something genuine in this Singaporean lady, some raw energy, only shadowed by some unnecessary selling and magnifying. A mix of Chinese dynamism and North American "push"ism.

After a good hour talking about Asia, business perspectives, Singapore and promising to meet up later on, I took a taxi back to School.

Singaporean Taxi drivers should be stamped as National Heritage. They are cheap, honest, and very "old Singapore". My driver told me about how Singapore changed from his youth up to now. How young Singaporeans changed, and sometimes turned their backs to traditional Chinese values. How life in Singapore was like in the 60's, when most people worked on ships or at the harbour.

He also gave you, future INSEADs, good advice on real estate over here. Agents should not charge you any fees, it's not the normal model. They are already paid on commission by the owners. That means, most of us have been screwed...

After this nice moments of 2 different Singaporeans, and a long day of classes, I jumped to bed. Tomorrow, there's a big P3 gathering in town, and well, electives start. I read through syllabuses, and it's full of assignements, group work. P2 seemed light, by comparison...

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