Motto of the day: "If you wait till the last minute, it only takes a minute to do."
The night before we got together after dinner with my study group to go over an accounting problem. I have done it on my own at home before coming to the boot camp and was reluctant to spend time on it again, but decided not to voice my objections. We then spend 3 hours working on the problem together, and realized how much I didn't really understand, at least not well enough to be able to explain to others. Quite a few things I've done were plain wrong, others were in the "it depends" category, but I could not convincingly defend my answers. All in all, a very instructive exercise. I realized, however, that had I used this approach at MIT (redoing problem sets I've done on my own in a group setting) I would've been able to take at most 2 classes a term. Well, the enthusiasm will likely wane here, too.
In any case, when we were done with accounting, we decided to go "grab a beer" at the upstairs lounge. For our group "beer" meant 1 beer, 2 Merlots, 1 strawberry daiquiri, and 1 Whiskey. Even though it was 11:30pm, the lounge was quite full. Maybe I should have spent more nights there, mingling with my classmates? I am still struggling with finding the balance between studying and making connections. Should I force/nudge myself to go to pubs when I'd rather read a book in my room? Should I read the book in my room in order to be prepared for next day's classes rather than spend time talking to my classmates? Or should I just relax and hope that it will all fall into place by itself? At MIT, the goal was clearly studying, and the connections were forming naturally; here, with the limited time that we have together, it's not so clear.
We talked until 1:30am and this time it was quite enjoyable, as the lounge wasn't loud, the chairs were comfy, and the company already familiar. It was the getting up at 8am the next morning that was not so enjoyable. Oh well, here's another test of that balance - sleep vs. communication.
The morning lecture was accounting, and having diligently worked through the problem with my study group was tremendously helpful. There were still a few instances to which the answer was "it depends", and where our choice differed from the professor's, but at least we could clearly articulate why. For example, is a prototype an expense or an asset? What about R&D? How about incorporation expenses?
Answers: prototype is an expense, unless you can sell the prototype in its own right. R&D is an expense, except that in the software industry it's an asset, since it is really the cost of goods sold there. Incorporation expenses were treated as an asset prior to 1998, and as an expense thereafter. This is the best illustration to the "it depends" principle - the rules themselves change.
Lunch was taken up with a lecture on financials - how do we pay for the education. It turns out that quite a few people are paying all or a significant portion of the program's costs. And, not too surprisingly, most can afford to pay for it out of pocket. The most frequent question was - how can we find out what the interest rate on the loans is, since we need to figure out whether it is more beneficial to take the loan or to pay out of our own savings. The loans weren't really made for this crowd...
Management was another team-building session: social identities and managing diversity. First, our professor talked about his own identities: white, male, Jewish, professor, father, fly-fisher, and how each of them affects him at different times. Once he mentioned that he was Jewish, I immediately "felt Jewish" myself, somehow thinking that his behavior reflects on all of Jews and on me, in particular. Then each group went to a private room (we, as the best place-pickers, chose an outdoor cafe) and discussed each member's identities. It was a bit intimidating at first, but at the end of the hour we knew each other better than we know most of our colleagues. Mallik talked about the problems he had in the first 2 years of his marriage - well, his marriage was arranged and he did not know his bride beforehand. Apra met his wife at IIT (Indian Institute of Technology). There were 2000 men there and 25 women, but it was difficult for women to get married - who would want a smart wife? Apra's done quite well for himself, but apparently his wife is even more successful professionally, which means they can't go back to India, as it would not be acceptable there. Lainie is Greek-Orthodox, but her fiancé is Protestant, which, apparently, is a big deal. Whew, I feel so lucky for not having to deal with any of these issues!
Back in class we talked about the group discussions. It's amazing how much faster you can get to know people if you make it a point to do so. And getting to know the person's background and values does help in improving the relationship. I guess my one-on-one soul mate discussions were right on target. Except that I used alcohol as the accelerator, rather than a structured class assignment approach.
After an outdoor BBQ (Wharton style, with white linen tablecloths, waiters, and silverware), half the class decided to go to a bar to toast the last evening of boot camp. I followed - last night, gotta spend it in style. I came home at 10pm and fell asleep right after calling my boyfriend. Guess, I can't go out late every night anymore. All the better - at least I got enough sleep to last the Friday lectures.