China adventures 2012 – week 1

In this series on the International Study Trip please welcome Mark Willems as the second guest reporter from China. Mark made us the honour to write an extensive report of the whole (tourist) trip, including pictures … [for the sake of clarity and although I don’t like it, I will split this very long post, you’ll need to read it on the web]

Day 1 – Shanghai

I arrived early on Monday morning in Shanghai airport.

The Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) train brought me to the city center in 8 minutes at a maximum speed of 301 km/h. During the day the train reaches a maximum speed of 431 km/h.

Maglev picture by Frederik Mennes

Maglev picture by Frederik Mennes

Speed indicator picture by Mark Willems

Speed indicator picture by Mark Willems

After another short and “slow” metro ride I arrived at the Blue Mountain Youth Hostel where Frederik checked in the night before. He was barely awake when I knocked at the door but it was nice to see a familiar and non-Asian face. Apparently I already felt alienated in China and that after only a short train and metro ride ;-) In the subway I was at least a head taller than the others and I was the only one wearing a non-black and even a colorful sweatshirt. Can you imagine ;-)

Stijn, a friend of mine studying an MBA in Gent, was also staying in the same Hostel. We all gathered and took off to People’s Square in the city to meet up with our Leuven classmate Gilles. From there on, we first visited the Jade Buddha Temple.

Jade Buddha Temple picture by Mark Willems

Jade Buddha Temple picture by Mark Willems

Afterwards we travelled to the famous Bund where we got a first glimpse of the Pudong new area across the Huangpu River. The Bund is a waterfront area between the river and Zhongshan road.

Bund waterfront picture by Mark Willems

Bund waterfront picture by Mark Willems

Eager to see the Pudong new area from close by, we crossed the river by taking the sightseeing tunnel.

Bund Sightseeing Tunnel picture by Mark Willems

Bund Sightseeing Tunnel picture by Mark Willems

As you will see in the following link to a You Tube video, this tunnel is less spectacular as seen in many pictures (mine is pimped by playing with the shutter speed), but it was nice to have seen it though.

Once we arrived at the other side we grouped with two other classmates, Vanessa and our one and only Chief Party Animal, Fabian.

We climbed the large bottle opener shaped building, the Shanghai World Financial Center, housing the second highest observation deck worldwide at 474 meters.

Next to this tower an even higher beauty of 632 meters is being built, the Shanghai Tower, which will open for public in 2014.

Spyshot picture by Mark Willems

Spyshot picture by Mark Willems

Pudong new area skyline picture by Mark Willems

Pudong new area skyline picture by Mark Willems

For dinner, Frederik arranged us a nice table at Shook! where Kevin Cape, a British highly respected chef, presents an Asian and Western blended menu.

We tried some different nice dishes but it was mainly one of the desserts that caught our attention. Even for a culinary adventurist like me, the “Malaysian Ice Kacang” was very innovative. Or did you ever try a dessert that combines shaved ice, corn, sweet brown beans, peanuts and grass jelly?

Shook! dinner picture by an unknown Shook! waiter

Shook! dinner picture by an unknown Shook! waiter

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A star is born! (study trip to China – day 2)

In this series on the International Study Trip please welcome Fabian again as guest reporter from China …

After the first big party, everybody was a little (or a lot) down on Tuesday! We had classes only in the morning, we had a lecture about the history of China and another one about Confucianism (Tony Liu). Then, during the afternoon, we visited the Forbidden City and the Hutong District. It was definitely the worst day of the week to do an outside activity because it was freezing cold! But we survived! We had a lot of great moments like when we were in the Forbidden City, the Chinese people wanted pictures from us but mostly from the blond people and also from the tall guys as you can see on the picture … They took hundreds of pictures of us! Our group rocks in China ! Vlerick is already in the photo books of many Chinese people!

First news from Beijing

In this series on the International Study Trip please welcome Fabian as the first guest reporter from China …

First of all… We all made it to China! Some of us came earlier and met in other cities before Beijing! Shanghai was for example one of these meeting places!

Then here we are ! Beijing!

We have to say something about General Becky! She is in charge of the organization of the Chinese trip. During the introduction session she told us that if the schedule says 9:00a.m , it doesn’t mean 9:01a.m , we start at 9:00! The first session was an introduction of the Chinese culture presented by the Dean of the Chinese MBA program, Mr. Bruce Stening (not Bruce Willis like Kattina thought).

After this session, we all (Leuven students) went to a fake market for shopping! We could finally put into practice what David Venter told us! We developed our bargaining skills and we negotiated great deals! Then it was followed by a great Vietnamese restaurant! Finally we ended up in a Russian bar/disco! OMG I don’t remember the end!

Sorry Becky, we were all late on Monday morning!

Fabian Frola from Beijing !

Bustling Beijing

Photo credit: Bustling Beijing by Trey Ratcliff on Flickr (CC-by-nc-sa)

Preferences for the International Study Trip: sent!

At Vlerick, an international study trip is organized for students following the modular MBA as well as the part-time MBA. Destinations are:

As you can see, the emphasis is put on BRICS countries, in addition to the first world economy (and with the notable exception of Brazil). There are however no chosen countries in South America, in Central/Northern Africa nor in Europe.

World map of International Study Trip (in green)

From what I saw so far, each destination has some kind of theme: some topics are covered in Mumbai, others are in Cape Town. And, of course, each destination has classes on specific business topics and issues relevant for the country. For instance: EU-China Trade and Investment (in China), Logic & Benefits of Outsoucing (in India), Stories from Wall Street (in the USA), Russian Banking System overview (in Russia) or South-Africa’s transition (these are only examples and may not be done or relevant anymore by the time you read this post ; we don’t know yet the programme for this year).

As places are limited (either 20 or 40 for each destination), they are given following the “first come, first served” principle. Students have to send an e-mail with their top 3 preferred destinations today starting at 1pm. Like previous years, I expect lots of people wanting to go to China but maybe less people than previous year wanting to go to India. Out of curiosity, I wonder what will be people choices this year.

Btw, did you send your preferred destinations?

Opening Seminar (I&O Psychology)

Each beginning of the year, all Apollo students gather together for a 2-days opening seminar. Since the group contains students from both years, the same seminar is given every 2 years to Apollo. On odd years (2011), it’s I&O Psychology and we are going to hotel Stiemerheide in Genk. On even years (2012), … well, we’ll see if we are still alive by that time.

Hotel StiemerheideThe hotel is quite luxurious. Rooms have enough space to be shared with a roommate (2 single beds, don’t worry) ; the only problem could be the semi-transparent door for the bathroom ;). I think the rooms are well soundproofed but I can’t really tell you since we were probably making much more noise at the Thursday party than other visitors in the hotel. Although surprising, the food was nice. I’m not a connoisseur but it seems the wine was not as good as expected. Some people tried the swimming pool, sometimes at unexpected times. Some of us also tried the sauna and the snooker. Pictures are here (access may be restricted to protect some students’privacy).

Oh yes, we were there to work, not only to enjoy the spot …

I&O has in fact nothing to do with the Input/Output from computers (as I initially thought) nor the tenth studio album by Peter Gabriel. I&O stands for Industrial and organizational psychology (given by Prof. Dr. Koen Dewettinck, previously mentioned in this blog). According to Wikipedia, it’s “the scientific study of employees, workplaces, and organizations”.

You don’t know your employees, your workplace and your organization if you don’t know yourself first. That’s why we spent a lot of time to dissect our MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) scores. Maybe a bit too much time. We also explored our personality in 4-quadrants and explored group dynamics through games. Of course, I won’t tell you which ones otherwise your pleasure will be spoiled (especially if it rains heavily during the outdoor game). In the end, it was very funny to watch ourselves on video.

In my opinion, the seminar lacked a little bit of stuff about “workplaces, and organizations”. But past experiences, future readings and probably other courses will be there to help. I was also wondering what is the estimated frequencies of the different MBTI types in a general population. Just to compare to the frequencies of our group.

And there, I was very astonished: there is hardly any statistics about that in the literature (well, I agree I only looked on the web). Then this made my suspicious: if the first version was published nearly 50 years ago (1962), why aren’t there many results available? Because the MBTI instrument is the property of a private publisher and studies on results are guarded secrets? Because some studies showed low validity and low reliability (see Wikipedia article, I didn’t have time to check the references)? Well, anyway, I only found one table about the estimated frequencies of the types in the United States population, at CAPT.

First you put the 16 different types of personalities in this test in a 4 by 4 square like the one below.

General MBTI grid Then you take the mean of each square mentioned in the CAPT results and you get this: more people on the left (on the S-sensing side) than on the right side and, there, more people on top and bottom (i.e. on ISxJ and ESxJ).

Estimated frequencies of the MBTI types in the United States population Now if we look at the results of our group, it’s a bit different … There is practically no xSFx people, except one ESFP. Most of the Apollo MBA students are on the right side (i.e. the N-intuition side). And there are two big group: one at the extreme bottom left (ESTJ) and one at the extreme bottom right (ENTJ).

Estimated frequencies of the MBTI types in an MBA group (Vlerick Apollo, Belgium) Is it “normal” or representative of MBA students? I don’t know: I don’t have any comparison point. One could say MBA students are more N-intuitive than the US population. And, instead of being split between I-introverts (top) and E-extroverts (bottom) like the US population, our class is split between S-sensing (left) and N-intuition (right). It would be nice to see if this show something (or not).

One last thing the opening seminar is usually devoted to is an introduction to the International Study Trip. Again this year, students can choose between Beijing (China), Mumbai (India), Cape Town (South Africa) and New York (USA). There were demands from students for a trip in Brazil and it’s apparently something under investigation at Vlerick (but it won’t be for this year for sure). The way students can choose is a first-come-first-served method: between two dates/times, students have to send their preferences and places will be filled up as e-mails are received by the programme manager. Then … Alea jacta est! We’ll see who is going where!

Where are all these students going?

Where are all these students going to?

P.S. At each opening seminar, Apollo students also elect the student rep for the 1st year students and the Chief Party Animal. Read the previous post for more on this.

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