Thursday, November 18, 2010


Study,'s your buddy
Not.  I am writing this blog post as a procrastinate studying for my Corporate Finance midterm.   With our location in a financial capital and our solid Finance Department faculty, LBS certainly has a "finance"  reputation.  The core Corporate Finance midterm and final are notoriously difficult.  Second years have warned us.  Since I have a finance degree and have been able to generally keep up with the course content, I am not too worried about this midterm.  I certainly haven't studied enough because of competing priorities, so the next 36 hours are going to be dedicated to this beast of a test.

This Corporate Finance course is a two-quarter class.  Last Wednesday was our last lecture with Dr. Anna Pavlova.  She easily wins my vote for favorite professor so far.  Someone jokingly mentioned it was going to be interesting learning about capitalism from a Russian on the first day of class.  I chuckled and prepared for class to begin.  And then Anna stepped up, and she didn't match any of my expectations.  The best way to describe her is that she is quirky in an endearing way.  For example, she penned a poem about NPVs, and read it aloud in our first class.  It was hilarious.  She also throws in funny comments in class about "finance interviews" and tongue-in-cheek advice in her slides.  Anna is BRILLIANT.  She studied at a school in Moscow before going to Yale and earning her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton).  She then taught at MIT before coming to LBS.  So, she has legit credentials and is a research rock star.  But, she is brilliant in another way.  She has a disarming personality that is much needed in teaching a corporate finance course to a room of 80 MBA students, many who have worked as investment bankers or in private equity.  Every student respects her but not because she is arrogant.  If anything, she is the antithesis of arrogant.  She makes the subject matter entertaining and easily digestable for those without a finance background while still challenging for those that do.  And we generally have very interesting class discussions because she solicits input from everyone's work experience.  When I first came to business school, I was skeptical that some of the technical courses could be taught using HBS cases.  I have now been proven wrong...very wrong.  In addition to our lectures and class discussions, we had group cases that were difficult. 

I was sad to hear that we would not have Anna as a professor next quarter. Our stream generally claps for professors at the end of a course.  On this day, we had a loud and long round of applause for Anna.   She genuinely cares for her students, and I think the world of her.

Today is the 11th anniversary of the day Bonfire (aka Stack) fell, killing twelve Texas A&M students and injuring many others.  For those that don't know what Bonfire is, think of it as one of the most rich and deep of traditions at Texas A&M (a school known for our history and traditions).  I never saw Bonfire in person, but I was a student at the school when the Bonfire memorial was built and dedicated. 

With all the controversy over the tragedy and moratorium, let us never forget Bonfire.  Aggies may no longer spend months building a 12-story wedding cake pile of logs before our annual football game versus the University of Texas Longhorns (aka t.u., t-sips), but the Aggie Spirit will never be broken.  Let us never forget.

Last weekend was spent in Barcelona with my rugby teammates.  We had some good games and a plenty good time going out and exploring the city.  I consider myself pretty lucky to have these women, beautiful inside and out, as some of my closest friends here in London.

Since I came to Barcelona in fall 2007 with Binita and Andrea, I wasn't in any rush to go sight seeing.  However, I did make it to Sagrada Familia on Sunday.  It is Gaudi's masterpiece and was recently deemed a basilica by the Pope. I can think of certain times in my life when I've seen things that have taken my breath away.  The Taj Mahal in Agra, the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Michaelangelo's David in Florence, Machu Picchu in Peru, Victoria falls in Zambia, and the Eiffel Towner in Paris.  Sagrada Familia also makes this list.  It's one of my favorite churches of all time.  I partly like it because Gaudi had the audacity to design such an interesting structure.  It's not beautiful by conventional standards but more so in eternal standards.  Many masons, artisans, and craftsman spend the last few years of their career volunteering their time to complete Sagrada Familia. They're building something that is going to outlive them.  There is much symbolism in the finer details of the design, and those can only be appreciated if you have the audio guide or a professional tour guide when going through it. 

My favorite parts of Sagrada Familia are the stained glass windows, flying buttresses, and doors.  They are unique in their own way and are works of art in their own right.  My painting supplies and finished works never made it on the Continental flight to London in August.  Once things settle down for me with school, I hope to find an art supply shop in London so that I can pick up where I left off. 

Burritos as big as your face
London is a city with many great restaurants.  Because it is an international hub, it has every cuisine imaginable. Indian, Thai, Italian, French, Nigerian, you name it.  It even has some Mexican places. And man, I miss good Mexican food from Texas.  When I land in Houston next month, I am driving straight to Chuy's or El Tiempo. 

This week, I went to a Freebirds / Chipotle imitator called Tortilla with classmate Brian.   It was good, though not as good as in the States. 

And then on Thursday, I went to Wahaca.  My aunt Diana told me about Wahaca when she was visiting London in August.  It was started by a chef who won the UK version of Top Chef.  Wahaca is SUPER busy, so I recommend going at 8 or so on  random night.  That is a meal that I would have again.  And the best part was the company I had.  My friend David introduced me to his former colleague Ying who is now studying at LSE.  Ying is a fellow foodie, and I feel blessed to have a good friend like her to hang out with when our schedules matchup.  It's kind of funny how things work when you move to a new country.  Last spring and over the summer, I had so many people contact me to tell me they had a friend or colleague in London.  Sometimes, friends wanted to introduce me to their in-laws', grandparents, friends of friends, etc. Some of the potential introductions were completely absurd. 

The best part of having dinner with Ying was remembering that I have / once had a life outside of work / school.

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