This is one of the things I don’t like about my host country: every year in autumn, Singapore is plagued by haze, generated by the ashes from fires in Indonesia. These are not accidental fires, but rather set on purpose by farmers to convert jungle into farmland. Although all countries have been in urgent talks over the past few weeks over this issue, there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. The farmers in Indonesia rely on this method to secure the land they need for their survival. For more on the subject, see this article by Channel NewsAsia.
The Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA) has set up a website with hourly updates on the haze level in the city, including a schematic map of the current situation. A Pollutants Standard Index (PSI) of above 100 is considered unhealthy, and the agency recommend to “reduce vigorous outdoor activity”. In addition, “appropriate public advisories regarding the use of respiratory masks and other health matters will be given”. Over the past two weeks, the index has been above 100 several times.
So you thought this blog is dead right? Yes, I have been a bit quiet around over the past two months, but nothing to worry about. I’m currently enjoying Singapore, and now I’m back to blogging.
Spent the summer in Munich, working on two different projects. First, I interned with Yahoo! Germany, working on forecast models for their page view inventory and advertising revenue. Online advertising is an interesting business, and the market is growing like crazy right now. But despite having the highest number of unique users among all internet sites, Yahoo! is not able to monetize them – in case you missed the past few months of coverage on the subject, see articles on Yahoo’s own Finance site from July 19 and September 19.
In August, I helped a friend of mine to get a startup off the ground – novoCampus, a social network for university students in Germany. The site isn’t up yet, but the guys are working hard to get the first version out in the next few days (in German only). Exciting stuff.
While in Munich, I stayed with my cousin Stefan and his wife Iris in Solln, a beautiful suburb of Munich. They did ask me to put some photos of them online, but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get them on camera over the summer – so I thought I’d include some pictures from the past. Iris and Stefan, do you remember when they were taken?
In the end of August I flew to Singapore, where I am spending the remaining two periods of my MBA studies. Life here is very different than at home, but I am slowly getting used to it. Outside it is constantly warm and humid, and inside they love their air conditioning systems like there is no tomorrow. But the food is great – most exotic items I’ve tried so far include original Bejing Duck (you eat the skin, not the meat) and life shrimp (that’s right, it’s still moving while you crack its head!). Very good, I must admit!
Below a few pictures from my flat at Heritage View, an apartment complex close to campus – never lived in an apartment with a swimming pool before, so I am enjoying myself :-)
Quick update only, because my schedule is crazy at the moment – electives, core courses, assignments, readings, Student Council work, job related stuff and parties, speakers, national weeks … just too much to handle (yes, P3 really is the busiest period at INSEAD, no matter what anyone else tells you).
I have decided over the weekend to spend September to December, i.e. both my P4 and P5, in Singapore. My rationale for it is that this is a unique opportunity for me to find out more about this part of the world, broaden my network even further and travel to some exotic locations. And two months are just not enough to experience all this. In addition, I feel that the professors who will teach electives in the areas I am interested in (Entrepreneurship, Finance and some Strategy) are stronger overall in Singapore than they are in Fontainebleau, at least for my promotion.
On the other side, this may have negative implications for my job search in Europe. Moreover, it means that will not see a lot of my classmates from the first two periods, at least not on campus – after all, my decision means that I have only one month left on the Fontainebleau campus (so if you are one of the many who wanted to visit me in France and never came, time is running out quickly – hint!). Last, but not least, it means that I will have to work for the Student Council from the other campus, but this should not be a major problem, especially not when it comes to working on technology.
As always, there is no free lunch – you have to balance the positive and negative implications for every decision you make. After considering all arguments for and against Fontainebleau versus Singapore in the past few weeks I am conviced that this is the right choice for me now. In the end, it boils down to the same main reason why I have taken many key decisions in my life so far (join Trilogy, travel around the world, apply for an MBA, come to INSEAD …): If I don’t do it now that I have the opportunity, I will regret it for the rest of my life and keep asking myself: “What if …?”