Thursday, December 30, 2010

IMD students and the White Horse Pub

Yesterday night, we met up with a bunch of 2011 MBA students at the white horse pub, which is a located down the street. How convenient! It's literally a stone's throw away. We met up and exchanged travelling stories as well as the logistics of acquiring internet access, mobile phones, registration...

It was a great feeling that we are not alone and everyone of us is in the same boat: anticipating the year, excited to start the program and some more jet lagged than others. After an hour or two at the pub, the owner came over with two bottles of champagne and two trays of glasses. It was on the house and he wished us a great year ahead as well as a happy new year. Considering the price of drinks in Lausanne, it was a really nice gift! The sudden appearance of champagne delayed fondue and sleeping plans for some students. Who could pass up on some free booze!

I am convinced the white horse will be a frequent drinking hole for us... cheers!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bonjour Lausanne!

We finally made it to Lausanne. After months of planning and figuring out logistics, we are here setting up our new home for the next year. A couple of highlights:

Before departure:
1. Alison receiving her visa 3 days before departure
2. I realized that I did not have a lien release certificate on the day I was selling my car
3. My Macbook Pro's graphics chip gave out on me the night Ali got her visa
4. I fell sick the day before departure

The day of departure and arrival:
5. We found out at the check in counter that each passenger could only take 1 bag per person
6. 3 extra bags and 2 overweight bags would cost us $350
7. We lucked out and only had to pay $200
8. We hauled about 400 lbs worth of luggage on the train, off the train, on the cab, off the cab and into our apartment without breaking our backs
9. I picked up the keys at IMD and bumped into an IMD classmate
10. We registered at the local authorities only after 3 unsuccessful attempts
11. The passport photos we took in the US were not usable
12. We hooked up our WiFi
13. We tried to open a bank account, but was turned away because there were special restrictions for US citizens and even for green card holders
14. Ate a pretzel
15. Bought some groceries and pillows
16. Received our skis, snowboard, linens and towels
17. Crashed in bed at 6.30pm

All in a long days work!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Counting down, counting up and counting on you

We are counting down to our big move to Lausanne, Switzerland. It's 7 days, 18 hours from this moment before we take off from the MSP airpot runway. Once school begins, it's Day 1, 2, 3... as I am immersed into the full business school experience. Lastly, we are counting on you, Switzerland, to approve Ali's visa, so we can close out the last logistical item on our list and move on to Europe without worry.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Down to the wire

We are waiting for the last piece of the puzzle! It turns out that we have to submit a list of documents for me to the Vaud Canton authorities to register as a resident. This should allow my wife to get her "family reunification visa". We submitted the new documents on Monday, Dec 6th and we are slated to depart Tuesday, Dec 21st. The countdown is on! We will still have to mail her passport to the consulate in Chicago and then wait for it to come back. It's no doubt going to be tight and because of the time difference, I've been aching to get up in the morning to check my email. Hopefully, I'll get an "Approved!" email in my inbox sometime soon...

Wish us luck!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A test of influence?

In the past few weeks, I have become increasingly frustrated at trying to close out some items before we head out to Switzerland. One particular item is the visa. The situation is as follows:

1. Holding a Singapore passport allows me to go to Switzerland without a visa
2. After consulting with members at the Swiss Consulate in Chicago, my wife applied for a family reunification visa at the end of July
3. The process is supposed to take 8-12 weeks
4. At the 12th week mark, we started to inquire about the status
5. It turns out her visa is "In Process"
6. The Swiss consulate cannot contact Switzerland to inquire about this visa
7. We are recommended not to contact Switzerland
8. My wife cannot fly while her visa is "In Process"
9. It is recommended that the school inquires to get more information

It is at number 9 where my frustrations come in. How do I get more information? I cannot just wait, without knowing an end or what to do next! The first email out was at the end of October, but it is now December and the only information I've received is still "In Process". By putting myself in the shoes of the support staff, I try to understand the difficulty in getting an answer.

1. Perhaps the support staff is extremely busy
2. Perhaps the consulate in the canton is extremely difficult to deal with
3. Perhaps no one really knows what's going on with the visa except for this one person that went on vacation

These may all be possible, but the last one I've considered is this:

Perhaps, this is all a big case study on how to influence someone to perform a task with urgency while minding cultural differences and priority levels. This is a business school after all, specializing in leadership. And we all know that leadership IS influence, no more, no less.

I really hope this is all a "test" or case of some sort and we will get answers from IMD as well as a visa from Switzerland before December 21st, when we are supposed to fly out...