Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wow

I can't believe it has been nearly two weeks since I posted. Amazing how time flies.

The one thing about business school for which I thought I was really prepared was the amount of time it requires. Every b-school student I talked to warned me about it. The books I read discussed it. But it wasn't real to me until I got here. I spend 16 hours per day at a minimum working on Kellogg stuff. It isn't always classes, but clubs, conferences, and classes combined take up SO much time.

My wife is taking it well, thankfully. Two years isn't very long and then I'll have free time...unless I do investment banking or consulting. :)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

CIM Week Results

I'm afraid that our section didn't fare so well in our CIM Week competition. In fact, we might be pretty close to last in the final rankings. Today we had our CIM Week Olympics and - while we managed to do quite well in the relay races - we had a lot of trouble winning.

My pre-term class about Leadership in Organizations is amazing. The amount of work required actually surprised me. I expected a lot, but not this much. I can only imagine how much work we will have once classes really start this Thursday.

The classes that I will be taking this quarter are as follows.
Marketing Management
Finance I/II (a turbo course combining the first two finance courses)
Business Strategy
Decision Science

I'm looking forward to all of them. I was able to waive out of the first couple of Accounting classes since I have a business background. I also waved out of one Decision Science class and Finance I. However, I decided to back out of my Finance I waiver since I haven't used it recently.

My thoughts about Kellogg so far: more amazing than I thought it would be. What a great place and experience.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Much Needed Break

Yesterday and today have been a bit of a break from the rigors of pre-term. Yes, we did have class yesterday, but the day was otherwise was unobstructed. We had class today, too, but everything else was optional. Unfortunately, we are now in the midst of a leadership class and I spent much of Sunday and all morning today working on homework for said class.

So far, the comparison between graduate school and my undergraduate business degree has been striking. I am one of the very few Kellogg students (that I have met at least) to have attended a non-exclusive public school as an undergraduate. Interestingly, I haven't found the work to be that much harder, but I have found the instructors to be infinitely more competent. Our section was lucky enough to get one of the highest rated professors at Kellogg for the aforementioned leadership class and she is amazing. Very passionate, very competent, and very well connected. I'm very impressed.

We don't have many section activities this week as our focus is now on class and homework. Section activities will pick up in this weekend, however, and continue into next week.

Something that struck me yesterday: I know over 100 Kellogg students now. It certainly is not all or even most of the incoming class, but I'm amazed at how easily Kellogg has facilitated friendship building.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Famous Classmates

One thing that I have found fascinating (and intimidating) is the number of classmates that I had heard about before meeting them at Kellogg. Some of them are pretty famous for various things they did before business school. I won't mention any names since I don't know how public that information is, but it is certainly pretty cool from my perspective.

CIM Week

CIM (Concepts In Management) Week, which is actually closer to two and a half weeks in length, has started. After our one day Labor Day holiday, we got started at 7 am on Tuesday. After opening remarks from several people - including Dean Jain - we split off into smaller groups. At Kellogg, these groups are called Sections, and each Section has a name. Instead of a cooler group name such as the Big Dogs or Highlanders, I was placed in the Section called the Jive Turkeys. Each Section has about 70 people in it.

After we split off into our Jive Turkey group, we started the long process of learning names. Part of CIM Week is a competition between Sections, and one of the competitions is the Name Game. On Friday, one person will be randomly chosen from each section and she/he will have to name every person in their Section. I'm probably 1/2 way there, but I'm banking on the odds that I won't be chosen. :)

After lunch, we were given our first b-school project...something that I didn't quite expect. We had to create a Section Cheer. We actually managed quite nicely - even with my minimal input - and put on a pretty good show. We barely went over the 3 minute time limit, though, and were bumped to fourth place instead of first.

After a very brief reprieve to rest and see our families, we reconvened for the requisite CIM Week bar hopping. I made it to about midnight before I had to call it a day. Others - amazingly - lasted until 4 or 5 am.

Today (Wednesday) we started at 8 am. We had our keynote speaker and then broke off into our Sections to begin preparation for the next major CIM Week competition: the talent show. We've got some ideas, but nothing solid yet. The talent show isn't until Saturday, so we've got a little bit of time still. This afternoon, we had a group case dealing with diversity and how individuals act and react depending upon whether they are in the majority or minority. It was a really good exercise since Kellogg is so team based and so diverse. All of us will be spending a lot of time working on teams that have people from varied backgrounds.

Right now I'm on another brief break. Soon, Mrs. Majalo and I are heading back to campus for another night out, this time in Chicago. After that I'll get a couple of hours of sleep before we start all over again tomorrow at 8 am. I'm already exhausted and we're only on day two.

Monday, September 05, 2005

KAOS - Quick & Dirty

Wow. What a trip. My first trip to Europe was amazing.

The group was made up of 24 people. Five of those 24 were leaders (4 second year Kellogg students and one wife of one of the second years). Of the rest of us, 17 of us were first year students and two were the significant others of first year students. Some were strictly MBA students, some were JD-MBA, some MMM, etc. The group was also very diverse, which made for some amazing insights and discussions that would otherwise have been lost. I think it was about 1/2 male, 1/2 female and about 50/50 international students and US students, too. Perhaps amazingly, everyone was really nice, really cool, and we all got along.

Sunday, August 28

We spent the morning cleaning and working on a park in northern Chicago. After that, we met up and took a big-yellow school bus to O'Hare. (I've heard that you get to fall back in love with school buses while a Kellogg student.) The flight to Zurich was nonstop - thank goodness - and left around 5:30 pm. I was lucky enough to get stuck with a middle seat. When you're as tall as I am, this does not make for a comfortable flight.

Monday, August 29

The plane arrived in Switzerland at about 8:30 am. We took a combination of trains and buses to get from Zurich to Muren. Once in Muren, we hiked a short distance to our first hut. We had two rooms and there were about 15-20 mattresses in each room (on two levels) from which to choose. This hut had running water, a nice restaurant, friendly staff, and modern bathrooms. Also...SHOWERS! A great place to stay. We spent the night just hanging out and recuperating from the west-east plane flight.

Tuesday, August 30

Our first day on the trail. There were several first time backpackers in the group. (I considered myself a sort-of first timer. I've done a lot of hiking in the past, but never on this scale and never with so much weight on my back.) I don't know the total distance or rate of incline, but we spent most of the day moving higher. We had lunch at a hut along the way while all of the stragglers made it up the trail. The afternoon saw our first major obstacle, as we encountered a sheer hillside that took a toll on all of us. Once we made it over that pass, we still had several hours to make it to the hut for the evening. The hut itself was set on the side of a hill and had a great view of several glaciers. We arrived very late in the day (around 8 pm if I recall correctly). The hut had good food, outhouses, and no showers. Our sleeping arrangements were similar to the previous day. Very tiring day.

Wednesday, August 31

We hiked down from the hut and over the bottom part of a glacier. I had never touched a glacier before. This was pretty cool. The morning was not so difficult as we did a lot of down and then some up. However, I didn't eat anything for lunch. The lack of lunch, fatigue, and the unbelievably steep ascent in the afternoon really put the hurt on me. I stumbled and straggled to the top...but I made it. We were at our highest point at this hut (around 9000 feet). The view from the top was the best of the entire trip...or maybe I was just so tired that it seemed good. :) The people at this hut weren't so nice. At 10 pm, a lady came through with flashlights to see if we were all sleeping in the proper direction (we weren't). They did have modern bathrooms, but no showers.

Thursday, September 1

My favorite day in terms of effort as we went all downhill. One thing I learned on the trip: I'm really fast downhill, but really slow uphill. This hike was a bit shorter than the previous two days and we got to our destination (Kandersteg) relatively early in the afternoon. In Kandersteg, we stayed at a house with...SHOWERS! It also had modern bathrooms. The only bad news is that we had to cook for ourselves (the huts we had stayed at previously had fixed our meals for us).

Friday, September 2

I helped with breakfast. It only took about 3 hours to prepare. What can I say...I'm in b-school not culinary school. :) Most of us then took a chairlift up to a lake we had hiked around the previous day. We rented boats and paddled about a bit, but mainly just recuperated from the previous days of hiking. The perfect weather of the week was broken up by 10 minutes of sprinkles. I suppose I can't complain TOO much.

Saturday, September 3

We took a morning train from Kandersteg to Zurich. This was a direct train; much better than the train, train, bus, train, bus combo that we took on Monday. We spent the afternoon wandering around Zurich. The city has fabulous architecture, great cathedrals, and some great shopping (or so I was told). I'm always amazed when I walk into a building that is older than the United States. In fact, one of the cathedrals was built in the 1100s, so it was old before the US was even an idea. In the evening, we had our final dinner as a group and then went out on the town. We stayed at a decent hotel (showers, modern bathrooms, AND Internet access!).

Sunday, September 4

Back to Evanston. I lucked out and got to sit in an aisle seat. However, I spent almost all of the flight watching movies and talking to help get myself re-acclimated to the central time zone.

Overall, it was a GREAT trip. One of the hardest things I have ever done, but the people made it worthwhile. I'm in awe of the caliber of people with whom I will be attending Kellogg and I sometimes wonder how I made the cut. I think this is going to be a great two years.

I'd like to say that I would write more about KAOS later, but since the next couple of weeks are going to be extraordinarily busy, I doubt I will get to it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

And It FINALLY Begins

Well more than a year after I started working diligently to get my MBA, I finally did something b-school related with my classmates last night. It was only a happy hour at a local pub, but it was good to meet up with some of the folks that I had previously met at DAK in February. In fact, I've already run across a lot of people that I met at the first admit weekend. So far, it looks like the rate of return from DAK is pretty high.

In truth, I wasn't even invited to last night's event...Mrs. Majalo was and she asked me to tag along with her. She is involved with a group that is made up of the significant others of Kellogg students called Joint Ventures (JV). I think she's already made a group of friends through JV and she seems to be getting along well with her new teaching job (although the kids don't show up until Monday), so I think she will like Evanston.

The second official event of my career as a Kellogg student starts tomorrow night. We have a meeting to discuss the particulars of our KAOS trip to Switzerland...and then Sunday night we board the plane. It is going to involve a LOT of hiking, but I'm still really excited. Just to keep me on edge, though, my parents keep calling and reminding me about all the rain that Switzerland is currently getting.

Once we get back from Switzerland, the fun really begins. And by fun I mean no fun at all. We have two weeks of orientation, get-togethers, and classes called CIM Week. The schedule looks pretty daunting. We're busy from 8 in the morning until past midnight on most days for two full weeks. Including KAOS, there are three weeks in a row that we have "stuff" scheduled in such a way as to force me to miss church. This doesn't sit too well with me, especially since we haven't found a church home in Evanston yet.

I'm off to (hopefully) finish my packing for Switzerland. The bad part of the Swiss trip is that I had to purchase almost $500 worth of equipment to take with me. While a beach trip would have been less fun for me, it certainly would have been cheaper. I guess that in the long run, though, an extra $500 is a drop in the bucket compared to tuition.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I Have Internet Access!

We are finally in Evanston and we FINALLY have access to the Internet (more on that later). The trip up here was relatively benign, albeit much more boring than was the trip when we moved our stuff up here. The Majalo family dog - while a very personable and intelligent being in her own right - just can't keep up with the conversation as well as Mrs. Majalo. I really like driving - especially road trips - but driving twelve hours without anyone to talk to gets old.

We actually arrived last Monday (August 15). The past week has been spent getting the house in order and buying necessities. Our biggest purchase was a futon. I hate futons. I've always hated futons and I will continue to hate futons. However, our new place has very narrow doorways (28") and a hallway with a 90 degree turn. A couch simply wouldn't fit. So we now are the proud owners of a futon...I'm so thrilled. :)

The biggest hurdle of the week was getting our Internet connection activated. Other than DirecTV, who has to have the friendliest and most competent customer service department of any company with whom I've dealt, I've never been a huge fan of TV/Internet/telecom providers. The incompetence and unfailing rudeness of nearly every Comcast employee with whom I have dealt is astounding. We were supposed to get service on Wednesday, but the gentleman who was supposed to complete the installation went to the wrong house. On a whim, I went out and asked him if he was supposed to work on our house, too. He "checked" and said, "No, someone else will be out this afternoon." So I waited. Later, after approximately 5 phone calls to Comcast, I discovered that the technician from the morning had gone to the wrong house and had flat out lied to me about it. The said they would send out another technician. He or she never made it to our house, either. Somehow in this process, our installation was marked as complete, so I had to explain that caveat on all future calls. To make a long story short, after several days and dozens of calls to Comast, we are finally connected.

The summer sure flew by fast. I can't believe that KAOS is around the corner and that I'm only days away from classes starting.