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Saturday, September 10, 2005

V Bad Blogger 

It's been almost two weeks since I last posted, and I'm worried I'll get out of the habit if Idon't post soon, so here's an early-Saturday-morning summary of the last twleve days or so.

So, my last post was on th elast day of pre-term classes. The day after that was my 'learning team retreat'. 400 of us (half the class went on Tuesday and Wednesday, half on Wednesday and Thursday) had to get ourselves out of bed in time to get on a bus by 6.30am and take a 3 hour journey up to a summer camp site in the Catskill mountains. The main purpose of the retreat, we were told was to meet our learning team and start to build a strong foundation for working together during the year. (To explain, a learning team is a group of five or six people who work together during the first year, particularly on group projects for lots of classes. Teams all come from within one cohort(the group of c66 people we take all our first year classes with) and are apparently formes by random selection, which is then adjusted to ensure that there is sufficient representation of women, non-US nationals, and people from different proffesional backgrounds.) Over the two days we did a range of activities, from riddles to rope swings, spent a lot of time trying to keep dry (the weather was not good) and generally 'bonded' with our team and cohort members. I actually enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, but was not too distressed to head back to Philly once it was over, taking with me a pair of very sore arms and a bashed up finger from my failure to manage a rope swing. And I'm very happy with my team. We seem to be a usefully mixed bunch in terms of backgrounds and skills, but with a lot of shared interests and goals, which bodes well for the year ahead.

Coming back from a couple of days from relative isolation to see news reports of the devestation caused by Katrina was a huge shock. That the power of nature is sometimes unstoppable is hardly a revelation, but seeing the impact it's had and the problems that the richest naion in the world is having with dealing with the aftermath is something new. Needless to say, thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

The day after the retreat was 'diversity training'. The issue of living and working with diversity is one in which I'm very interested (and was pretty much the topic of one of my application essays) so I was quite looking forward to this, and it pretty mush surpassed my expectations. We started with a group of actors who performed a numbr of scenes that were used as the basis for a group discussion (I realise that this may sound cheesy, but it wasn't) and then broke up ito cohorts to have a discussion led by an alumnus/almnae. The performances in particular were very thought provoking, and it was intersting to hear both the opinions that were voiced and who they were voiced by. One thing that becomes very apparent once you get people into the realm of serious discussion is that people don't necessarily think and react in the way that you might expect from their 'social persona', and the things you hear about being with a really intersting group of people and being able to learn from them start to feel very real.

Then it was the weekend. Hurrah! I went to the US Open with a group of peopl eon the Friday. It was very hot, but great fun, and provided an opportunity to discuss economic (just how do they get us to pay $5 for a litre of water) along with watching some great tennis. The rest of the weekend was whiled a way in pottering around, cooking, shopping, seeing a bit of Philadelphia, and generally re-grouping before the start of classes.

And then this last week has seen everything begin to start up properly. Tuesday was 'case day'. We had three case discussions (I only had to go to two, as one was focussed on marketing which I succeeded in waiving), designed to introduce us to cases, learn a bit about what is and isn't useful in case discussions, and, in the 'ethics' case, discuss the Wharton ethics code. In the evening we had 'Convocation', which consisted of us having to get togged up in business atire and sit and listed to speeches from the Dean (why the teaching v research arguement is bogus and why business schools are about much more than teaching people how to be good managers), one of the faculty (the phenomenum of student grades becoming less open while faculty assesments have become more open and why we should take advantage of all the opportunites we'll have to learn) and one of the alumni (the value of getting to know classmates and the alumni network). This was followed by us all heading sheep like to the University Museum for the Convocation Reception, where we got to experience possibly the worst buffet food service ever, and some mediocre food (of which there was hardly any left by the time I managed to get to the table.

I'm going to talk about classes, which kicked in on Wednesday and Thursday, as theis post is already pretty long and i can hear my breakfast calling me. For now I'll just say that I've enjoyed starting to get my teeth into real work, but I'm glad we only had two days of them before the weekend. I spent yesterday morning putting homework and project deadlines into Outlook, and it's very evident that things are going to get pretty crazy in a couple of weeks. And looking at my calendar for next week, when extra-currics start to get going, I can see things rapidly ramping up outside the classroom too. I'm excited that everything's getting going, but a little aprehensive about just how hard the next three and a half months are going to be.

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