Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Academics kick in...and whats going on in Amsterdam

I can't believe our first term already draws to an end. I know it has only been 8 weeks, but I feel like Oxford has been my hometown for a long time now. It always amazes me how quickly people can adjust to new circumstances. Living in Amsterdam (lived there for the past 4 years) seems ages ago. I'm kinda curious how 'De Prins' is doing. De Prins you say?? Yes it's a boat I own togheter with Frits, who is a friend I used to live with in Amsterdam.
We spend last spring repainting the whole damn thing, putting new layers of tar on the hull to protect it from the very corrosive Grachten water.

It wasn't a very pleasant thing to do, although we always have good fun when we excercise our engineering skills (well, Frits is not an engineer, but he could have been...). The thing is, we always prepare very well, and you know, whenever you even think about doing DIY stuff, preparation is KEY! We can spend days in store's like Gamma and Praxis (large DIY stores), just to be sure we got that very special type of equipment exactly fit for the job! I can tell you, a lot of thought and discussion enters the equation there.
Anyways, I won't bother you any more with this stuff, here some pictures of De Prins + guests:

Build up to the Prinsengracht concert, this is one of Amsterdam's best events of the year. It's a classical concert on a floating stage on the Prinsengracht canal. Everybody with a respectable boat turns up in the morning. Then you wait approx 100 m away from the stage until you're allowed to drive your boat up to the stage and tie your boat to it. The thing is that everybody wants to be in front (yes, Dutch are no different from any other country in that respect), so all the boats you see in this picture want to pass underneath the bridge you see in the back. It can easily be referred to as the 'battle of the boats' that has casualties and winners every year. This year, we definitely won, we'll see about next year.

Grand finale!!

I guess what all this means is that I miss Amsterdam a bit at the moment. But no time for that of course, exams are in less than two weeks now. Can't wait to wear my sub-fusc three days in a row!!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Friend visiting Oxford

Had Pieter over in Oxford this weekend. Pieter (whom I know from my time with Accenture) works for ReedElsevier, and they have an office here in Oxford. After a week of strategy meetings, he was ready for some serious MBA-style drinking. On Friday's this always kicks-off at the Said Common Room. (a Common Room (CR) is Oxford slang for an area of relaxation, even reflection maybe. All Colleges have CR's, Junior Common Room (JCR) for undergrads and Middle Common Room (MCR) for the cool grads!).
Friday is happy 2 hours with cocktails for only 1 pound each!

Had dinner afterwards in a Jericho pub and then hit the Worcester bop. We ended up in Escape, an Oxford club that is pretty popular around here,

Next morning we had an excellent breakfast in the Covered market. The Covered market is a market that is covered....(aha) with lots of nice lunchrooms and small stalls that sell almost anything. Stomaches filled, we headed towards the Ashmolean museum.

First museum visit since Oxford arrival and I now have decided to at least visit one each month. I already know my next destination: museum of Natural History. They have the 'shrunken head' so I've been told. (no clue what this means, take a look:

Quick visit to Christ Church after that and then time to get back to the Netherlands, and for me back to the books!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Catching up...

Ok, let's catch up with what's been going on so far. Been quite a while since I've arrived in this beautiful and slightly odd city. Why odd? Well let me see, here's some funny facts about Oxford:
  • People regularly bump into you on the sidewalk. In Holland it's quite normal to give a bit of room when you approach each other on the sidewalk. In Oxford people just run straight into you. To avoid this, you'll be forced to go onto the street where of course you almost get run over by a car, because you are still looking in the wrong direction, as they drive on the left.
  • Official drink up limits. Bar closes at 11pm and then you officially have 20 mins to finish that pint of Extra cold Guinness.
  • When taking an exam, every student has to dress up in what is called, a sub-fusc (see picture below). For guys, this means: Black suit, black socks and shoes, white shirt, white bow-tie and a gown! You have to bring your cap too, but you're not allowed to wear it. As if just taking the exam was not enough, imagine yourself standing in front of the mirror in the morning and you forgot how to tie your bow-tie!!! I already had my first nightmare about this!

Anyways, enough about that. This is the list of topic I study for in this term (Michaelmas term it's called):

FinanceI, Strategy, Financial reporting, Developing effective managers, Decision science and Managerial economics. Favorites are Finance, Strategy, Dec Science and FR. Lectures are usually very good and interesting. Also a good mix of cases vs theory. Sometimes you'd wish you had more time to go in depth, though.

We are currently in week 6 of this term. Lectures continue up until week 8, then 1 week of revision and in week 10: Exams!

Ok, some highlights so far (or basically events that I have pictures of, because we all know that pictures say more than a thousand words....)


Tim & Yazeed (MBA students and fellow Linacrites)

Tim and a strange girl with a green hat

That's me with Machteld (now wearing an even stranger hat)


Yes I know, Portugal has nothing to do with Oxford, but on the 30th of October, my parents were married for 40 years!!! This called for a great celebration in and around the wonderful small Portuguese village of Sao Martinho do Porto. Discovered by my mom & dad I think about 15 years ago, this village, built around a bay somewhat over a 100 km's north of Lisbon, has been a second home for us. From many different locations, close friends flew in and for a few days Marquell (our favorite little cafe where we spend at least 2 hours every day to eat Tostas Mistas and drink bicques) was flooded with Dutch.

First night, October 28th, was set in a lovely barn. Owned by Portuguese friends, a villa+barn decorated a wonderful setting for an informal barbeque. The one course diner was hosted by a hand-picked and carefully nurtured pig. A local fado-band filled the room with its traditional hearth-breaking music. Some impressions:

Bbq preparations

Mom and dad... Magnificent fado! My dad with the butcher

The day after, much needed cafe and bolos de nata were consumed at Marquell, preparing us for night two.

Stage for this night was a terrific restaurant right on the Sao Martinho boulevard. This night would build up to the ultimate climax at midnight when my parents were officially married for 40 years. As milestones always provide excellent opportunities to reflect on past performance, many friends provide my parents with some feedback, and so did Talina (my sister) and I.

Dinner was amazing, and it was simply just a great night!

Clearly much appreciation as Robert Sterneberg (father of my brother-in-law Richard Sterneberg) shares his view on the couple.

My mother revealing her cunning plan of how to sneek boys into her

highschool party. Fortunately she succeeded and met my father.