Monday, November 30, 2009

The Greenbrier

It amuses me when friends from home ask me what I'm doing for Thanksgiving. I suppose this is because for the better part of two decades, my family has ventured to West Virginia for the holiday. The Greenbrier is a luxury resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. Once upon a time, it housed an underground bunker for the US Congress during the Cold War. Most recently, the hotel was purchased from CSX by local billionaire Jim Justice, who plans to revert the hotel to its glory days of five stars and American tradition. As such, the former entrance is being dug up for an underground casino and the old furniture store has been converted to hotel lobby. For the most part, not much has changed over the years. The second cousins get bigger, the bowling pins become more worn out and the service is fairly consistent, with a few exceptions.

This year was more enjoyable than last. Instead of spending night after night with my nose in the computer, I stepped away from Darden. We bowled nightly and then wandered through the casino. I don't gamble much, but it's fun to watch. I was productive in reference to booking airfare for Sweden (no backing out now!!) and a trip to Paris while I'm abroad. For good sport, I also purchased a new iPod Nano on Black Friday. It always amuses me how much pressure is put on Black Friday as for the last 18 years I've been hulled up at the Greenbrier the day after Thanksgiving.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year and can't believe I'm 1.5 weeks away from being 3/4 finished with my MBA. It'll be interesting to return to the Greenbrier next year, fully employed, with a brand new casino and likely updated hotel rooms. Who knows what else will change in the next 300 plus days.

Monday, November 23, 2009

LT7 Reunion

There are few things that make me more nostalgic than memories of LT7 from my first year at Darden. I'm still in disbelief on how or why learning teams disband prior to fourth quarter. While LT7 was convinced we'd continue to meet through the fourth quarter of first year, it became apparent quickly that the differing schedules made learning team a thing of the past. That said, LT7 lived on as a bowling team during fourth quarter and this year, we attempted to revive the LT7 bowling team. Yet again to no avail, differing schedules simply didn't allow it. Instead, we had LT7 bowling, with random additions of friends, roommates and significant others.

When I first walked into LT7, we noticed that many of us were "young" in comparison to Darden's average age. None of us were married, which also seemed like an anomaly in comparison to other teams. But today, two are engaged, four have signed their full-time offers and as we sat at dinner tonight, we talked of being like the LT of '67 which has three people who have donated large sums of money back to Darden. One has his name on Saunders Hall and another provided funds for the Abbott Center, though named it after the dean at the time instead of himself.

It's exciting to reunite with LT7 and I must say, I'm sad we don't do it more often. While second year schedules allow more flexibility, they also include what seems to be more activity, at least in a less structured manner than first year. Here's to great memories and more when we visit Sergio in Brazil for an LT7 reunion, which may just coincide with the next World Cup. Inadvertently, of course.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

India Planning

There are a number of us venturing to India this December and for some reason, we can't nail down anything from travel dates within the country to cities. Obviously, there are a number of great places to visit and even imagining that we could fit them all into three weeks is preposterous. Our gracious host, one of the reasons many of us considered India, invited all the travelers to her house tonight for dinner and discussion. Unfortunately, dinner happened, discussion did not. In some ways though, I'm happier because of it.

I sat around with a number of my classmates discussing study abroad programs. One classmate is going to India, two are headed for Mexico and of course, my plan includes Sweden. It was fun to talk about experiences and expectations. As I sat at the dinner table, I admired the diversity. A few of us are US citizens, two are Indian and another, French. I wonder if I will get to interact with a group like this again as I do at Darden. Incredible experiences from all over the world melted into one pot for two years. It's absolutely amazing!! And apparently has led us to require another group meeting regarding our trip to India.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Are we censored?

Who censors the Darden Student Bloggers? Today, in one of the SY classes, it was discussed that Darden marketing censors the Darden Student Bloggers. As I heard this, I thought funny, I never knew that. I would love to ask how many of those people who believe we are censored by someone other than ourselves have actually read our blogs. This blog was about me long before it was ever about Darden. In fact, Darden will likely be a blip by the time this blog retires.

I suppose I bring this up more as an understanding than to refute anyone's preconceived notions. My posts are my own and the university has no weighting on my opinion or the slant at which I write my posts. If they seem overly positive, that's because I'm an overly positive person. If I choose not to write about all my hardships, that's a personal choice. It's weird enough having people mention posts I've written out of context, I share a lot of myself with as much transparency as I can bare.

Another aspect that readers need to understand is that due to the wide reach of the internet, this blog doesn't simply represent the Darden brand. It's more than that, it's my personal brand. How do I want to viewed by the outside? It's become easier to find information on people, just ask Google and this portal is a very easy one to find. I would hate my personal brand to be a detriment of something I wrote tastelessly. Today, I'm a representative of myself, Darden and my undergraduate institution. Tomorrow, I'm also a representative of company.

While life is not always rosey, my glass is often half-full. If that slant does not suit the interest of my classmates, they are entitled to their own opinions. Know that everything I write is with honesty and thought. I'm not here under false pretences and by no means do my views reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the University of Virginia, Darden, or any faculty, staff, or other students. The only censor between this blog and myself is at best, one imposed by me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bar Review: Trinity

Trinity is a new Irish pub and is located "on the corner" in Charlottesville. I couldn't tell you what it replaced, however, I must say, I've been impressed thus far. I'm a dancer - always have been and likely always will be. There are multiple places to dance in Charlottesville, though the two frequented most are Three and The Box. Three is nortorious for 100% 80s music on Saturday nights. You're also guaranteed to smell like smoke when you leave Three (oh how I miss San Francisco and Boulder... smoke free!!). The Box, while fun, gets packed quickly, so as long as you don't mind acting like a sardine, the music is good enough to stay there all night. This brings me to Trinity.

Trinity has three levels with the top floor boasting a variety of music. Surprisingly, during my past two visits, I haven't smelled as smoky as I do when I leave most the bars in Charlottesville. The patrons have been nice enough and what little experience I've had with the bar staff has been pleasant. The new bar gets my stamp of approval and I have a feeling, Darden students will become frequent customers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why Is Selecting Courses So Hard?!?

At Darden, you can take anywhere from as few classes to as many as you want per quarter as long as you end second year with 60 credit hours completed. The average number of courses per quarter at Darden is five. You take five every quarter of the first year and assuming you don't have a GBE, J-week, M-week or DBP (Darden Business Project), you will most likely continue taking five courses per quarter throughout second year.

So what happens when you turn everything upside down and decide to study abroad for Q3? Well, now I have to choose TWO classes where I normally had five. Additionally, I need to ensure that these classes will transfer to Darden, replacing the minimum of four classes that I must take to ensure not only graduation, but also a manageable fourth quarter. Further, these classes need to be taught in English. I'd say my Swedish is horrible, yet it's worse, I don't know any! And there's one more aspect I almost forgot. SSE's study periods are different than Darden's, which means I need to be allowed to sit for the exam in Sweden a week prior to my Swedish classmates. Now if that wasn't a nightmare waiting to happen?!?

It's interesting as I browse the course descriptions, finding some description in English where the classes are taught in Swedish, I continue to wonder if this is all going to work out. One class in particular had me super excited, until I realized the exam is a week after the date I MUST return to C'ville. At this point, it's in the professors hands, so we'll see.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Job Searching...

I feel like I've been recruiting for the last 1.5 years straight. While I realize that is a stretch of the imagination as I did have a 3 month internship in there, it's all weighing down on me right now. I just completed a second round NPV analysis that at best, I'd give myself a C. I know it's harsh, except when I hit submit on the email returning the case I almost wanted to tell the guy to withdraw my name from the candidate pool. Can you tell I'm running thin?

I've spent the last couple weekends traveling for second rounds and have another weekend of traveling ahead of me. I'm grateful to even have made second rounds, yet, given that I haven't heard back from any of them, I'm not sure where my benchmark is. Am I doing well? Do I need coaching? Will I end up with a job prior to Christmas?

In some ways, it doesn't matter when I end up with a job. In many others, I feel overwhelmed with classes, recruiting and life. One of my close friends had her baby this past weekend, likely the soonest I'll see him is April. These days, I feel the need to blow off some steam and occasionally I do, though when I return, the work is still sitting there.

For instance, I had dinner with my boyfriend, a classmate and his wife last night. We sat around the table for 2 hours after a yummy homecooked turkey dinner - swapping stories, sipping on wine and enjoying exactly what second year is about, a little TLC with people who may only be around for the next 7 months. Of course, when we finished dinner I still had 100 pages of my reading seminar book to complete. It's the never-ending list of things to do.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Time Flies

Grades and exams are slowly rolling into our inboxes from last quarter. Yet today, I just finished my first "real" midterm exam at Darden - take home, 4 contiguous hours - who would have thought that you could give a midterm with 6-8 weeks per quarter? I'm in absolute aww as time seems to travel in super speed. Every week is booked to the max and trying to find open time is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Last Friday I was in Chicago for my first second round interview. Afterwards, I flew to SF to celebrate Halloween with my old soccer team and see my friend's new baby. I spent Sunday returning East and thankfully, United switched me from my original connecting flight to a direct flight. Props to them, I didn't even have to ask and ended up landed 4 hours earlier than expected!! I'm traveling again this weekend and the next. I fear Thanksgiving will be here before I know it, which also signals the end of the quarter and finals, again.

As for study abroad, I am officially enrolled at SSE (Stockholm School of Economics) for quarter 3! I just can't seem to wrap my head around going to India for 3 weeks in December to return home on New Year's, back to school for a one-week course and then I move to Sweden during the coldest time of the year for 7-8 weeks. It's insane.

I'm trying to enjoy my time and the moments, but lately, I feel like everything is just beyond my grasp. Before I know it, I'm going to wake up at graduation.