Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Seoul Semester: S3 Asia MBA

Beautiful Seoul situated on mountains is an amazing place to be (at least once in the lifetime). S3 Asia MBA semester in Korea University Business School starts around 15th February.

First feeling I got on Seoul airport was - " Oh my God! Its freaking cold". The snowfall has just stopped (but if you are lucky you can witness 1 or 2 more during the semester) and the traces of snow are still there on the roads. Our super nice Korean friends drove us to the CJ international Dormitory from airport. . CJ International Dormitory is situated on "Mount CJ" (That's what we call it because you never get tired of cursing that mountain every time you come back from class). 

Overall Seoul is a very beautiful city, super organized, neat and clean. After bearing the language and cultural shock in Shanghai, Seoul is pretty easy to live. People here can understand basic English (atleast you can get food and taxi very easily). Also, by the end of Shanghai semester my Korean classmates already taught me some Korean words like - Khamshamida (Thank you 감사합니다), Khanchana (Its alright!괜찮아), Anyonge (Hello/Bye 안녕). Oppa (Big brother 오빠 - if the girl is saying, for boys its different), Onni (big sister 온니- again if the girl is saying, Nuna 누나- big sister, if the boy is saying). Reading Korean is also very easy. Normally people learn it in 3 days (however, understanding it is really difficult) Korean language is little tricky but after spending a semester with Korean I could easily link the culture to the complications of language (that's one of the fun parts of being in S3 Asia MBA). 

Korean orientation was amazing. Everybody was distributed in groups and given 40,000 won to go around 5 famous places in Seoul, take lot of pictures (accompanied by the photographers) and give presentation at the end of day based on those photos. After the presentation was a drinking session. Students have to go on stage, scream out the introduction in Korean language and drink a big bowl of Korean Rice wine (bottoms up.. no excuses allowed). Post drinking there is some crazy and tiring dancing (everybody has to do it in group.. until you drop dead or about to puke :P)

Study wise Korea has 2 different modules. Each module is for 2 months. So course is little bit hectic compared to Shanghai. Plus, you have to keep on applying for internships. 
First module - Marketing Management, Operations Management, Business in Korea and Japan, Field trip
Second module - Corporate Finance, Business Ethics, Managerial Accounting, Business Insight, MIS. 
First module is light but second is very quantitative and difficult (especially for people like me who hate finance)
Korean language classes run side by side but that is again zero credit so I gave up after 2 classes. 
Among all these courses - Field trip is the best because you enjoy 4 day fully paid vacation in a nice 4 star Hyundai hotels outside Seoul. Our class also planned a Busan trip after the field trip.

We also get 9 days vacation in between 2 modules so many people planned a trip to Japan or Jeju. I traveled around Seoul during that time. 

Important points about Seoul: 
  • Beef is a very common food in Seoul and sometimes the curry or soup contains beef so being a Hindu I had to keep checking it. Even the instant noodles contain beef. 
  • There is a community called IndiansInKorea on facebook, join it if you wish to hangout with Indians. They keep organizing events. I had a Indian friend associated with that group so I personally went to many trips with them.
  • Koreans are very nice people. Just don't piss them off and they will try their best to help you. 
  • Korean currency is crazy. (USD 1 = 1000 Korean Won) so just discard the last 3 zeros for easy conversion. 
  • Lot of sea food available everywhere around the city. They even eat raw fish, octopus and what not. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cost Analysis : Shanghai semester

1 Yuan (Chinese Currency) = 10 INR

Different kinds of rooms are available in Tohee
(65/75/80/85 Yuan per day).
Deposit: 2000 Yuan
Charges: According to number of days that you stay. Charged per day and the full payment for September to December has to be made on the first day itself.
Utilities: Normally comes to around 100 yuan per month

Shanghai is not very expensive in terms of food compare to Seoul and Singapore. The school cafeteria is horrible so you will end up eating all the meals outside everyday.
Average meal near school : ~20 yuan per meal
Vegetarian food is difficult to find but you can easily get chicken and pork everywhere. For Muslims halal meat is very easy to find. There are many shops that offer halal meat infact, there is one right below Tohee.
Coffee: 8-25 Yuan
There is a Walmart near school (around 1.5 km from Tohee) so you can practically get everything there.
Fruits: Not very cheap but you very easily available near school
Indian Food: There are few Indian places in downtown area but it is comparatively expensive. I have heard that recently somebody has opened an Indian restaurant at DaXue lu (university Road) near Fudan University.
FYI - 'DaXue' mean University and 'lu' means Road

There is a subway station right beside Walmart (not far from school). Taxis and buses are also readily available.
Buy a subway travel card and same card can be used to pay for buses.
Always carry the address in Chinese if you are taking a taxi so that you can show it to the taxi driver and he can easily drop you there after that.

Calling charges: 
In China you can easily get a sim card by just giving the money. No need of ID card or photograph.
Calling Rates and Internet charges: Higher than in India. I can't remember the exact numbers now but you can easily but different cards ranging from 10 yuan to 50 05 100 yuan. For international calling you can use Skype credit or Nymgo (comes out to be almost same price as local calling in India)
Wifi: You can buy a 80 yuan wifi card from Tohee reception and get unlimited wifi for one month

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Why ISB is better than NUS

  • Shorter time duration
  • Don't have to worry about the internship
  • Placement is easier as companies come to the campus and directly pick you up (Colleges outside India do not have concept of campus placement.. students normally apply on their own to the job vacancies posted on the college job portal)
  • Easier to change field of work after MBA (In NUS its almost impossible to change field of work because the employers will not call you for interview unless you have the relevant experience)
  • Cheaper than NUS (including the living expenses in Singapore .. after all its the most expensive city in the world)

Why NUS is better than ISB
  • Gives a more international exposure (ISB has almost 90% indian students.. completely opposite to NUS MBA)
  • Chance to get employed in Singapore
  • Build contacts with international people
  • Since Singapore has a mix of all Asian natioanlities, the course at NUS gives a more diverse picture of how Asian economy works
  • Although there is no campus placements but you can get a chance to get job with more international companies
  • (in my opinion) NUS MBA is more prestigious than ISB

Saturday, May 10, 2014

S3 Asia MBA: Shanghai Semester

It all starts with Shanghai in S3 Asia MBA at Fudan University. Shanghai is a beautiful city and for all those who haven't visited China before, it will be a shock. Shanghai was way better than I ever imagined it to be after all it is located in most populated country in the world. The city no doubt is very beautiful and well managed but it is a very big cultural shock. In spite of being the most global city in China, people rarely understand English and vegetarian food is very very difficult to find (one of the reasons I turned non-vegetarian with in a week after reaching there). Therefore, it is better to learn some basic Chinese words before reaching there (Wuo bu chi roe - I do not eat meat... might help.. first words I learnt). Also, always keep your address in Chinese handy otherwise you will never reach the destination. Good way to deal with this is install Google translator app on your smart phone.

Fudan semester starts with one week long orientation, which was quite fun because S3 Asia students are teamed with the two year IMBA students. So it is a good chance to make friends with them. Generally, this friendship turns out to be for lifetime. 

Semester at Fudan is not very difficult. There is plenty of time to meet people, explore China, have party (which happens quite frequently at Tohee Student Dormitory) and study. Some of the professors at Fudan are really good. Subjects that are taught at Fudan are: Business in China, DMD (Data Modelling and Decision), Financial Accounting, Management Economics, Managerial Communication, Organizational Behavior, Business Insights (in this course you visit companies in Shanghai and then present a report on it). And of course there is a zero credit course in Basic Chinese too (It is a good opportunity to learn everyday Chinese so that you can order food, take taxi and be able to tell your name in Chinese but not beyond that). Fudan also has a very good Career development office. They review your resume and if you know Chinese there are plenty of job opportunities in China (far more than I imagined and salary is quite good.. the only barrier is language). 

Tips to survive Fudan Semester
  • Make best use of the free time available in Fudan. Make lot of friends and spend time with your classmates to make lifetime bonds. Party a lot. 
  • Start applying for internships by December
  • Start eating non veg so that Shanghai and Seoul does not bother you food wise (many of our seniors have survived being a vegetarian but I personally found it really difficult)
  • Explore China (some of my classmates went to Beijing, Taiwan and Hong Kong as well)
  • China is the cheapest among the 3 countries (For Indians its still expensive.. but keep this fact in mind)

Monday, March 31, 2014

NUS S3 Asia MBA Double Degree System

For the S3 Asia MBA students get two degrees.
One from the parent university - NUS/Fudan/KUBS (from where you got selected initially)
For the other degree students need to choose one college -
NUS Students - Can choose from Fudan or KUBS

  • Fudan - Need to write thesis in 4th semester. There is no additional fee and you don't have to attend the classes but student need to select the guide and come for defending the thesis around April I think.
  • KUBS - No additional requirement
Most NUS students choose KUBS for the obvious reason but there are certain people who chose Fudan as well. Probable reasons being - they wanted to work in China

Fudan Students - Can choose from KUBS or NUS
  • NUS - Need to give GMAT and get a score above 600
  • KUBS - No additional requirement

KUBS Students - Can choose from Fudan or NUS
  • NUS - Need to give GMAT and get a score above 600
  • Fudan - Write thesis in 4th semester. No additional fee but have to come to defend thesis
For more details refer to :

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Preparing for GMAT - Basic steps

The best source to practice for GMAT is Official Guide. I am from Engg background and was working as business analyst so I didn't have to work at all for Quantitative section but my English was terrible. Hence, spent most of the time on that. 

Here is what I would recommend for people who are thinking about preparing for GMAT: 
1. Take the practice test 1 that you receive from GMAC after registering online. Actually giving the practice test without any practice gives you the confidence that Oh! I could have got this much without any practice whatsoever. 
2. Pick up official guide and start solving questions for each topic very sincerely. 
3. More important than solving questions is reading the solutions. Even if you get an answer correct, read the solution with same diligence.
4. Follow the online forums for GMAT preparation like ... and many others. I personally was a big fan of and I tried to solve questions from every topic on this site (atleast for 2 hours everyday during 15 days that I prepared for GMAT in total)
5. You can subscribe to test series like Manhanttan or Kaplan during this time and keep giving tests every week or so ( I gave tests every 2nd day since I had only 15 days to prepare for)
5. Last step and most important - Give your GMAT prep tests 2 one day before you final test date. Generally the score that you get in this test is exactly the same score you get in your GMAT. (I got exactly the same)

Final advice - don't waste your money on unnecessary resource because Official guide is the best.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

NUS S3 Asia MBA - Basic info

This program is very unique and offers specialization in East Asian economies. For this program students spend one semester each in different countries. Starting from first semester in Shanghai, China to next semester in Seoul, South Korea and the final semester in Singapore.

There are many advantages of this course that come along with some of the difficulties that a student faces because of constant moving from one place to the other.

Fees - Total fees is SGD 60,000. Although you study in different college for each semester, the fees goes to NUS each semester (for NUS students)
College in China - Fudan University
College in Korea - Korea University

Average Living expenses -

  • Starting from Shanghai, which is the cheapest of the three cities (but obviously more expensive than India) - INR 3,00,000 (including hostel fee)
  • Seoul - More expensive than Shanghai (especially the food is almost 5 times more expensive) - INR 4,00,000 (including hostel fee)
  • Singapore - most expensive of all - INR 5,00,000 (including hostel fee)
Visa process - Visa process for all these countries is not at all difficult
  • China - Since this is the first country that you go to so you can easily apply for visa from India. Visa fee is around INR 3000-4000 and you easily get visa within a week after submitting the application. Also, you need to do some medical tests for the visa application
  • South korea - Visa process is even more simple than China. Just go to embassy in Delhi or Kolkata and fill up the form (don't need medical tests for this). You get visa within 4 days. The only complication here is you can apply for visa only from home country so you have to come back to India during break (which normally varies from 4-5 weeks). Cost around INR 3000-4000. 
  • Singapore - The college will apply for visa on your behalf so no need to worry. 
Placement Scenario - 
  • Advantage - NUS has a placement website that all the NUS students have access to. SO technically you have almost the same options available as the regular NUS students. Plus you can also access the Fudan and Korea University placement websites. So if you are keen on working in these countries you have exposure to lot of opportunities
  • Disadvantage - If you don't know Mandarin or Korean, Fudan and Korea University website are not much of the help because 80% of the cases they don't prefer to hire foreigners who don't knwo the language. But still there is no harm in trying. One more disadvantage is that - S3 Asia semester has slightly different timings for summer vacation that regular NUS students so sometimes we face difficulty in placement. Most of the companies that post vacancy on NUS job portal want to hire for that particular interval of time so it becomes difficult to shift that window for few students. However, there are many students who manage to do that and land up with very good jobs. 

Basic Information about NUS MBA

Scholarship - very few people get it. May be only 1 in 10

NUS specialty - Finance. They claim to haev best placements in finance.
Education loans - There are many companies in India like Credila that provide education loan to cover the full tution fee and living expenses. The interest rate may be little higher than the government banks because normally govt banks do not give you loans of such high amounts.

Reasons for choosing NUS - Lot of Indian students go to NUS mainly because of the following reasons: 
  • Its one of the well known colleges in Asia
  • Gives you international exposure and opens the gate to get settled in Singapore
  • Cheaper than US colleges (less than half of what US colleges normally cost)
  • Near to home and flights are sometimes cheaper than the domestic travel
Job market in Singapore - Job market in Singapore is very different from most of the otehr Asian countries since they give a lot of emphasis on specialization. They prefer to give higher weightage to person who is experienced rather than a person who has MBA. So its not a very good place to change your field of work. 
Consulting companies like McKinsey/Bain/BCG in NUS - Not sure but I think most of these companies come to NUS but higher at max 1 person every year. These companies higher lot of people from Insead so NUS is like theie 2nd option.