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Friday, April 29, 2005

R&R needed 

The bag hasn't turned up yet, so I'm contemplating having write it off and claim on my insurance. Fortunately my tendency to either be really organised and file things or completley disorganised and not get round to throwing things out means that I seem to have receipts for most things. Yesterday I survived the twin embarrasments of turning up to a meeting of our Board of Trustees in jeans and doc martins (my meeting clothes being in the lost bag) and almost leaving another bag on a train. My excuse for the latter was that I was briefing a journalist by phone as I got off the train, so was a bit distracted (and I'd told the colleagues I was travelling with to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn't forget anything!).

Fortunately, an extended weekend starts in half an hour (Monday is a public holiday) so I should have an opportunity to get my brain working again, along with starting to sort through my stuff and decide what to take with me, what to store and what to find a new home for.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Adult supervision recommended 

There are some days when staying in bed and pulling the duvet over one's head would have been the best course of action. today is one of those days for me.

I have three back-to-back office based days and so am spending the next two nights in a colleague's spare room. For a variety of reasons I really wasn't with it when I was travelling in this morning and I managed to leave my weekend bag sitting on a station platform. I didn't realise until I was getting off the train, thought 'I musn't forget my bag', and then thought 'I didn't put my bag on this train' - one of those horrid sinking-feeling-in-the-stomach moments.

There aren't any news reports of a security alert, so I'm hoping that means it hasn't been subjected to a controlled explosion, and I'm currently waiting for a phone call to let me know if it's been found and is available for me to pick up later today. If so, I'll have a 2.5hr round trip this evening, if not I'm going to have to do a shopping expedition tonight to get some essentials, and hope that I'm able to be reunited with it at some point.

I'm now going to go away and kick myself very hard.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

First time for everything 

I just had a doorstep visit from a political canvasser, the first, I think, in the fourteen years I've been entitled to vote. We keep being told that the female vote is considered as key in this election, and if that thinking was behind deploying this chap on the campaign trail I wouldn't be at all surprised. What my mother would call 'a very nice young man', which is a type we seem to be well supplied with round here (a combination of the demographics of the local population, schools and the university intake). The concert I was stewarding at last night had an audience full of the younger versions - looked liked heavens knows what but said please and thank you and did what they were asked when addressed in a firm tone of voice.

I've just re-read that last sentence - I think I'm getting old.

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Why I'm not taking 3 months off 

As it's aroused some curiosity, I thought I'd comment on why I'm working right through to July. Like lots of other people, I've heard the 'take as much time off as you can' line, but I've decided it's not for me. Maybe this is a good sign that I'll be able to avoid the herd menatality during school, maybe I really am missing a huge oportunity - who know's? But for anyone who's interested, these are some of the reasons behind the decisions.

As with so many things in life, one major issue is money. I'm not in the situation where working for another three months just means adding to the savings in the bank. Working for the next three months means that I'll have money to live on for those three months and, hopefully, have the wherewithall to cover the 10% contribution I have to make to my student budget this next year. I'm pretty confident that I've got myself to a position where needs and means will match, but there isn't sufficient slack to stop earning for three months.

There's also the issue of my responsibilities to work. I officially have a six-month notice period, although I'm sure I could have negotiated that down if I'd wanted to. But I work for a small organisation that's going through a big period of change at the moment. Staying means that I can continue some work that will stop once I leave, put somethings in place for once I'm gone and take a bit of weight off my colleagues' shoulders. I've had a huge amount of support from my boss and colleagues throughout the apploication process and it would seem rather unfair to dump them in it now that I've got in.

Then there are other responsibilities. I'm currently flat-sitting for a friend, and disappearing off travelling would cause him problems. My sister's wedding in mid-July limits when I can head to Philly, and the need to have dress fittings etc, not to mention being there on the day without sunburn, insect bites or tropical diseases, also somewhat restricts heading off for any length of time beforehand.

Maybe most importantly though, I think my biggest priority for the next few weeks is spending time with people that I won't see a whole lot of for the next two years. I've seen a chunk of the world and I know it will still be there to see, realtively unchanged, in the future. But come 2007, who knows where I'll be heading or where other people will have gone. So right now, staying here and enjoying friends is a higher priority than spending more time on aeroplanes. And as I can do that while continuing to do useful things at work and earn money, why not?

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Time out? 

In his most recent post, missing presumed busy blogger bskewl was musing on overcommitment. Having barely stoped since I got back from Philadelphia last week, it's an issue that's also been on my mind. I'm not sure that it's been a case of overcommitment, more reasonable commitment that then had a load of unavoidable extras piled on top. I've met up with some people I hadn't seen for a while, heard some great music and had an interesting conversation about the physics of the musical tuning of vacuum cleaners (don't ask!), but that doesn't change the fact that it's Monday morning and I feel desperately in need of a weekend. The fact that this week isn't going to be much better doesn't help. Still, I guess it's all good training for August onwards.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

In case it's been preying on your mind . . . 

Delisile's post had me worried, so I thought I'd better report that, as of yesterday afternoon, I am the proud owner of a pair of silver sandals.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

The beginning of the downward slope 

Three months today will be my last day of work (yes, I am pretty much working up until the end) and I'm really beginning to feel the leaving process cranking up. Yesterday was my final meeting for a trustee board I sit on and last night I said goodbye to the friend who's flat I live in (he currently lives in France and is unlikely to be back on this side of the Channel before I go). And earlier to day I got an e-mail from someone wanting to know when I'm leaving so that they can organise a "proper send-off". I suspect the next thirteen weeks are going to go horribly quickly.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Seeing ourselves as others see us 

I picked up a copy of the latest edition of US Marie Claire for my journey home on Monday (my brain not feeling up to dealing with the book I'd concientiously taken out with me). There was an interesting article in it where they'd got this guy to correspond with three women via e-mail and to draw what he thought they looked like based on those e-mails. He then met up with each of them and compared his impression of the 'virtual' them to the reality, and the women compared his e-mail impression of them to their impression of themselves. It finished off with a couple of paragraphs about how little things you say can significantly shape people's impressions of you and how e-mail was a great opportunity to show yourself off at your best (this being a glossy women's magazine, it was of course being looked at in a dating context, because that is obviously our major concern sigh).

The article was an interesting read, especially having just being through Welcome Weekend and met a number of people who I'd been e-mailing or exchanging messages with on the boards, and having met up with a few fellow bloggers in recent weeks. Personality I think comes through very strongly, especially when you read enough things from people over a period of time. Appearance less so, although personality indicators might mean that you rule some things out and decide that others are highly likely. And I know that I've made incorrest assumptions about people based on things they've said, and that some people have done the same about me. As for showing myself off at my best, I've pretty much taken the approach here that this is me, like it or lump it. I'm too long in the tooth, and have had too much experience of someone getting upset/angry with me because I didn't conform to their view of what I should be, either to play games and pretend to be something/someone I'm not, or to get upset if someone doesn't like who and what I am.

Having said that, I have found myself pondering the whole issue of anonymity/identifiability that I know lots of the mba blogging community has struggled with. I knew when I started out that my most obvious characteristics, indeed the ones that led to my name here, would put me in a pretty small pool and make me pretty easy to identify to anyone who wanted to make the effort. As it's turned out, it'll need minimum effort ( as far as I can ascertain I'm currently the only British female in the Wharton class of 2007). And I've always taken the line that I wouldn't share anything that I wasn't comfortable with people knowing about me when they encountered me in either human of application form. But it does feel a bit odd to be greeted as 'britchick' by someone that, afaik, I haven't actually met (and when I haven't even opened my mouth and potentially identified myself by accent). Sort of like having a flashing neon sign above my head. And, if I think about it too much, it's strange thinking that people know things about me without me having the sort of reciprocal information you generally get through 'real world' interaction.

How all this feeds through to blogging as a student, and blogging about what will be the main part of my life, rather than the isolated aspect of it that applying has been, I'm not sure. Something to think about, I guess.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Forms and their functions 

When I got back home yesterday there was a letter waiting for me with details of how to set up my PennKey, which basically seems to let me access a variety of Penn's on-line services. On Monday I got an e-mail to say that my I-20 was on its way (if I'd known it'd be processed so quickly I'd have picked it up in person), and I've just arranged for it to be redelivered to me tomorrow (DHL's on-line tracking showed that they'd tried to deliver it today, but there was nobody at home). This means that I'm all set to start filling out the paperwork (if you can call an electronic form that) for my visa. I'm beginning to think that I should go and plant a tree or two somewhere to compensate for the volume of paper that this whole process is consuming.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Home Sweet Home 

I left the "should've brought sunscreen" weather of Philly yesterday and arrived back to the "now where did I pack my umbrella?" weather of the UK today. I was sat at 30th Street station yesterday afternoon waiting for my train to EWR (flew via there rather than Philadelphia International for frequent flyer related reasons) when it dawned on me that the next time I'd by in Philadelphia it would actually be home. It was a slightly odd but also exciting and welcome feeling. And then as I got the bus from Heathrow this morning I started thinking that the next time I was there could well be when I'm flying out. That left me feeling ever so slightly panicked. I'm looking forward to everything, I'm well on the way to having a place to live (two buildings identified - one a front runner that I'm actively negotiating on and the second a back up) and I know it's going to be a great experience once I'm there, but there's still a bit of an apprehension. I think it's just that change can be unsettling ( as well as exhilarating) and also that moving on means having to leave some things behind that I'll be sad to let go.

Speaking of moving on, the Wharton Admissions Blog announced yesterday that Alex Brown of the Adcom is leaving to pursue other opportunities (although continuing to support the admissions office in a consulting capacity for a few months). Alex, you'll be missed!

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Monday, April 18, 2005

WWW 

Wharton Welcome Weekend ended yesterday, but I'm still in Philly enjoying the sunshine and looking at apartments (I see the last one in a couple of hours). It was a great weekend, much bigger than Winter Welcome which gave it a bit of a different feel because of the logistical needs of an event on that scale, but just as fun. The amount of work that must have gone into organising it was phenomenal, and the energy and enthusiasm from everyone involved was just a knock out.

I won't post a blow by blow account, because I don't think i could do the weekend justice, but I will strongly recommend that everyone go to the welcome events for the schools they're admitted to if they possibly can. A good proportion of this weekend's events overlapped with the ones in February, so I don't think I'd have missed out on much in concrete terms if I'd opted not to make the trip again, but from a social and fun point of view it was worth it, even if I didn't manage to stay out and party as long as I might have wanted. (In typical fashion, I spent the fist few days battling to stay awake in the evenings on account of jet lag, and have now pretty much adjusted to the time difference in time to go home. But hey, I'm sure an overnight flight will help to mess things up nicely in the other direction.)

I really enjoyed meeting up with people I'd first met in February, putting real names and faces to electronic aliases, and getting acquainted with lots of people for the first time. Managing to see fomer blogger Riter and current blogger Iceman were particular highlights. And I met another Brit to add to our small band and a third fundraiser (having met a second via E-talk) which was fun.

OK, now I have to go and see if I can fit my WWW water bottle into my rather overfull bag.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

On the way to Welcome Weekend 

I suppose I’m officially in transit to Welcome Weekend. I had to be in the office today and fly out tomorrow, so going home in between didn’t make much sense. I was at a seminar in London this morning, so decided that I’d dump my bag at the place I’m staying tonight rather than drag it round with me. Slight problem when I got to the hotel and found that they didn’t have any record of my booking, but they let me leave my bag anyway, and it turns out that I’d gone to the wrong hotel – I’m at one from the same chain a couple of streets away.

Having left the bag I then had the joy of a rush-hour journey across to London to the seminar. On the days when I think “I could really live in London again” public transport is always the thing which makes me have second thoughts. At least today the man whose armpit my nose was stuck in had showered and used deodorant and the person breathing in my face was sucking mints, so it could have been worse. I don’t think the seminar could have been though. Not only was it not really about what it was meant to be about, it wasn’t even a very good session on its actual topic. So I left early and headed to the office to get things tied up for while I’m away. It looks like it’ll be a latish finish here tonight, before heading back into London to get myself to the right hotel. Then tomorrow, I’m getting my hair cut before setting out for Heathrow.

PS For your amusement, humorous Wharton Jornal articles on WWW here and here.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

We're shopping 

Spent a good chunk of Saturday touring shoe shops looking for a pair of silver sandals to wear to my sister's wedding in July. Now I know a day of shoe shopping would sound like heaven to a lot of women and I like shoes as much as the next girl (unless she's Imelda Marcos), but I don't enjoy the process of shopping for them that much. The problem is that I have very wide feet, which rather limits the available range of stylish yet reasonably comfortable footwear. This means that I have very few pairs of 'f*** me' shoes, a sizeable collection of 'don't f*** with me' boots' and a real problem when being a bridesmaid requires me to conform to a certain set of requirements. If anyone can suggest places in Philly that might stock strappy silver sandals for someone with feet of Hobbit proportions, please let me know and I'll have a look next week (for Welcome Weekend). Failing that, there's a localish shop that specialises in clothes and shoes for transexuals/transvestites that may well do delicate footwear for those with less than delicate feet.

The amount of available time for shoe shopping when in Philadelphia is going to be largely dependent on the amount of time taken up by apartment shopping. I sent off e-mails a couple of weeks ago to try to set up appointments to see some buildings and responses were either practically instant or non-existant, so I've also spent some time this weekend following up the non-responders. I'm hoping that by the time I leave on Monday evening I'll at least have a couple of buildings that I know I'll be happy to live in, and then I can sort out the details via phone, e-mail etc if necessary. Hopefully finding a suitable roof for over my head will be somewhat easier than finding suitable shoes for my feet.

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Still not a clerical error 

I got another change of status e-mail yesterday, which confused me somewhat as I didn't think there was anything left to change, but my record had indeed been updated to show that my officila transcripts had been received and my employment verification completed. I think that is now everything done.

Spent yesterday evening having great fun (what is the emoticon for sarcasm?) filling in my CFRE application forms. This is the standard US qualification for fundraising. After discussing it's benefits and relevance with a US fundraiser who's also a Wharton/Kellogg admit I decided that it was probably worth shelling out the $how much?! and as there's only one London presentation of the exam left before I move, and the deadline for applications is next week, I really needed to get the forms done. Compared to B-school applications the forms are really unclear and badly laid out and I seemed to spend ages scrolling forwards and backwards transfering points from one section to another and trying to check that my addition was right. (You have to detail your activities in the areas of Education, Professioanl Practice, Professional Performance and Service, with different types of activities getting different numbers of points, and there's a minimum points requirement for each section.) Assuming the application is OK I get to sit the exam in the middle of June. Hopefully this shouldn't be too taxing - it's marked on a 200-800 scale rather like another test that we're all too familiar with, but, judging by the sample questions ,considerably less demanding.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

And they're off 

It's now official and we're having a Generla Election on May 5th. An announcement had been on the cards for yesterday but was delayed because of services to mark the Pope's death. With parliamentary business to be finished in the next couple of days, the Papal funeral on Friday and a hastily rearranged royal wedding on Saturday I expect there are going to be an awful lot of diary managers who will be glad when this week is over.

I feel like I ought to burn some shoe leather on the campaign trail, especially as the constituency I live in is a three-way marginal, but I think I should consult my own diary and be realistic about what I can fit in.

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Your admissions status has changed 

Fortunately in a 'we have received your deposit' way, rather than a 'we realise we made a clerical error back in December' way. So I am now officially a matriculate, which is a nice feeling :)

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Almost there 

Got an e-mail this morning (sent yesterday) to let me know that my Verification has been completed and is all OK. So as soon as my cheque, forms, transcripts etc are safely received and OK'd I guess I'm official.

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Barefoot with lions 

I actually made it into work yesterday and my brain didn't start to shrivel up until late afternoon, which was quite remarkable given how little work it'd done in the previous week. In the evening I went out to the Wharton's UK Alumni club monthly drinks, which last night was an 'admit special'. The E-talk admitted students board had been very very quiet from UK based r2 admits, to the extent that I was beginning to wonder if there were any, but I need not have worried. There were about eight or so r2's last night (plus some partners) of whom a couple were British and a couple were women. On the off chance that anyone is reading this, it was really gret to meet you all.

I survived through till about 11pm, which was relatively remarkable given the time I'd got up that morning, but was finally defeated by my boots. They have extremely hard soles, and I hadn't got round to replacing my padded insoles, so after several hours of standing around talking to people my feet were killing me. I ended up having to take them off and walk 'home' in my stocking feet. I'm not sure that I've ever walked through Trafalgar Square barefoot before, and it felt theat it was rather too early both in the night and the year to be doing so, not to mention that I think it's an exercise best performed when one is significantly less sober than I was.

Today is a lovely spring day, but I've spent the morning stuck inthe office trying to catch up on some of the stuff that got left while I was ill earlier in the week. Passing through Waterloo station this morning the though of jumping onto a Eurostar and heading off for a day in France or Belgium was very tempting, but I resisted and have dutifully made some in-roads into the backlog. Another hour and then I think I'm going to escape.

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And just one more 

I think my favourite 'fool' from yesterday was an ad campaign BMW ran for a 'steeringwheel-less' car, to circumvent supposed new EU regulations banning the use of right hand drive cars on the continent. According to The Independent the press campaign cost £70,000 and generated 295 e-mail enquiries, as well as 3376 calls to its "customer liaison chief Herr Huhr-Huhr".

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Friday, April 01, 2005

Check the date 

Great story on inter-galactic blogging from Bloglines and some intriguing changes from the B-school world highlighted by the guys at ClearAdmit . Must see what my newspaper's come up with.

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