The start of Week Zero at the GSB is exactly 4 months away, and my days are getting busier and busier with several admin tasks which require completion before August. In particular: getting my US Visa, securing my accommodation at Stanford and relocating all my belongings currently in London. On top of this, I started handing over all my tasks at Universal Music (which requires a lot of talking about what you already know!), since I only have 6 weeks left. I can’t say I am having great fun with any of these tasks, but I am excited about the end result. Plus, the organization of some exciting trips for the summer is offsetting the effort!
I received the I20 document from Stanford earlier this week, and I booked an appointment at the US Embassy in London for June 1st. I truly hope everything will go smoothly with my F1 visa! The requirements for all necessary inputs are super tight and allow no mistakes. For instance, in order to book my appointment I had to upload a digital passport photo with (very) specific features. I took the picture at a specialized shop in London, but when I got to upload it on the Embassy website, I got an error message. My face on the picture was 3mm longer than the maximum allowed of 35mm (!), so I had to go back to the shop and negotiate a new picture for free. This time I brought a ruler!
Stanford offers several options on campus, the most popular being Scwhab, Munger and Escondido Village. Only a minority of students live off campus during the first year, whereas this is common practice during year two. I did not consider this option at all. Living on campus will facilitate the transition to Stanford, and will allow me to maximize my time with future classmates.
At the same time, I am mindful of the “bubble effect”, i.e. having my head focused on the MBA 24/7, without a chance to pursue personal interests or simply relax. This is why I did not apply to Schwab, which accommodates about half of GSBers. I visited the facilities during Admit Weekend — the rooms were super nice, plus it is located literally in front of the Knight Management Center. At the same time, it truly feels like a college dorm (which I am probably too old for!) and the lack of separation between class and “home” environments kept me from considering this option.
My preferred choice would be Munger, which offers amazing 4-bedroom apartments with private bathroom and shared kitchen/living room. Rooms are spacious, furniture is brand new, and most importantly my gut feeling was highly positive when I visited. It is slightly further away from the GSB, ten minutes on foot and three minutes by bike. But for London standards it is basically next door! I got the impression that Munger would offer a perfect balance between socially being “in the action” (I could already picture myself organizing small dinners with Italian food!), but at the same time having a safe shelter if I want to have a night off. I decided to apply with a group of three future classmates, with whom I had a honest discussion about preferences and habits. The group is a true melting pot: two men and two women, with four countries represented — France, Italy, Peru and United States. I am excited about it, and I hope we will be lucky in the lottery (results will be published on May 23rd).
Fortunately, the Stanford housing lottery offers an option which guarantees you an accommodation, and peace of mind. You might not get your preferred option, but at least you are sure to have a roof to live under. Therefore, I am very flexible about this aspect of the MBA experience, and enjoy whatever will come my way.
This task is probably the most demanding of all. My London flat is literally crammed with things: a ton of musical instruments (including a piano), my huge CD/vinyl collection, electronics, furniture, big wardrobe of clothes, etc.
My relocation will comprise three parts: 1) selling all the furniture without great value, which would be uneconomical to relocate; 2) selecting a handful of objects to move via plane to Stanford (via ship it would take 12 weeks, so it is not feasible). Mostly my iMac, my acoustic/bass guitar and a few other musical items, half of the clothes I will bring along, not much else; 3) moving everything else back home to Sardinia.
I feel I am running behind on this, because I still haven’t got to carefully check prices and options from relocation companies. From early June it really needs my full attention!
More exciting stuff!
Luckily, I have some fantastic trips planned, which will relieve the stress of all the above! I am flying to Santorini tomorrow with my girlfriend for a well-deserved mini break. Then I’ll be going to Sardinia in June (my 30th birthday!) and early July (more time with my parents, and some health check-ups before moving across the pond). And finally, I already booked an “unofficial” trip in July with several future GSB classmates. I will reveal more details when the time comes… yay!
Finally, bringing some color on top of the exhausting handover, I got assigned by the Chairman on a final project at Universal, which has been extremely interesting so far. It is about picturing music consumption in 2025, and work back a strategic direction of travel. Obviously, I won’t reveal any confidential information, but some aspects of this project got me thinking about potential areas to explore whilst at Stanford. I hope to soon write a post about it.