The last week has been taken up by a fair bit of preparation in the form of boot camps, and the international orientation program. There hasn't been a day since Sunday that hasn't had some form of course related activity, official or unofficial. So far that's been a good thing for motivation, good time management, and ensuring I get up at 6 in the morning to get things done before the day starts.
The international orientation for the business school was interesting, in that I got to discover that I'm the only Australian in the business school. This is probably a good thing considering what happens when us Aussies get together (hint: alcohol is involved). It was also interesting to get some varying perspectives around culture shock, particularly the assertion that the cultural integration process takes around 6 months and follows four key phases. Apparently I'm still in Phase 1 ("Honeymoon"), in which everything is new and bright and exciting (well, it is!). The key to surviving the next, less exciting phases will be self-awareness and seeking the support of local friends.
A final point raised in the orientation was a bit hilarious, in that we were all exhorted to develop an American accent in order to improve our chances of employment. I can appreciate that for non-native speakers this might be a good goal to have, but I have lost enough of my Australian accent as it is, I have to hold on to something. Most Aussies think I'm American already.
We also went through boot camps in using Excel and in Introductory Finance. The Excel course covered a lot of ground, most of it familiar from previous jobs (Pivot Tables! Macro Code!); but a fair amount of time was spent translating the instructor's instructions from Windows Office to Mac Office. It still bemuses me that the two programs can be so radically different in their interfaces. That and the lack of an equivalent to Ctrl-D.
The Finance course was our first taste of homework problems (for most, our first taste of homework in a *long* time); Thursday afternoon was spent buried in net present value calculations and becoming familiar with my new financial calculator. It's already clear that the GFC has changed the outlook within business education; the phrase "interesting times" (with all its connotations) came up a lot, and the debate over the "Efficient Market Hypothesis" is livelier than ever.
Not that there'll be much time to notice that, as everything ramps up from this evening. My last few hours of relative freedom will be spent seeing La Scala's production of Verdi's Aida at the cinema, and then it's straight from there to the orientation welcome event. After that, the next two years will be pretty much all on the go.
I can't wait.