Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stuffed Silly

As is only appropriate for the last night in Rome, I ventured down the street from my hotel and stopped at one of the few restaurants that was not only open, but also very busy. The food was amazing and I'll admit that dessert was almost too good. I sit here hoping to digest sooner rather than later, fully knowing I should have taken a stroll or three around the block in the chilly weather. The gym tomorrow will be much needed!

Unlike my classmates who have been my travel companions on this trip, I've previously been to Rome. They visited the Colosseum and Roman Forum today, while I, either in a stroke of brilliance or stupidity, posted in a cafe catching up on reading. I mentioned in a previous post that books were harder to come by in Stockholm, meaning I'm a solid 4 days behind on the bulk of my class reading. Next weekend I'm visiting a friend in London and the weekend after I'm meeting my boyfriend and family in Paris. Needless to say, I likely will not be reading.

I'm not looking forward to the colder weather though I'm deeply excited about having my pillow back. Given that the group is on a true student budget, we opted for a 3 star hotel in a good location. Overall, we did pretty well except for the fact that the pillow sucks - which may be an understatement. My neck and shoulders feel vastly out of whack. I think review sites should add a pillow and bed review where a user can indicate their personal preference on a predefined scale and then indicate where on the scale the hotel fell and how much they liked it. Maybe that will be my next innovation for Ideation, a class in which I'm enrolled that requires me to submit a new innovation or invention every week.

I'm still full and presume that returning to my "Judgment and Decision Making" book would be a good idea. I'm vastly entertained by the fact that at the bottom of the book it reads, "BPS Textbooks in Psychology." I suppose the description is better as I do feel I'm in a psychology class, not a business class.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Case Packs vs ???

Darden is notorious for making us purchase a thick case pack. I can't even recall the price of a case pack right now, but it's in the range of $30-$70 (I think). In previous quarters, Darden has test piloted sustainable case packs, meaning that everything is on the web and it is preferred that you not print it. Let's just say, this worked for some people and most of us received printed case packs within 3 weeks of the quarter's start date.

I apologize, I'm a paper person. I like to be able to highlight it, note it, and have three pages in front of me at once as I frantically look for facts and figures. While I do my best to read items on the computer, I'm simply more comfortable having them in printed firm,. In fact, I still make lists with pen and paper. There's a feeling of accomplishment when strike a line through signaling completion that I simply don't get when I check a box in Outlook. Needless to say, the bounded case packs we buy, I'm happy to purchase them. Plus it's better than purchasing textbooks that are often priced at $200 a book.

This brings me to SSE. Once upon a time, the school had a bookstore in its lower lobby that carried all SSE books. Because of the recent renovation, that bookstore is no more. It's been a nightmare as an exchange student to figure out what to purchase and where. There's a chain of bookstores that are supposed to carry SSE books. I went and returned fruitless. Two of the books hadn't been ordered and one was due to come in "soon" - whenever that is! This school is also more theoretical than Darden, which means there are plenty of papers to read that are supposed to be accessed on the web, whoopie. Given that I just explained my love for reading on my computer, you can infer my level of enthusiasm. I also decided that tonight was a good night to find and save all the articles as I've had problems downloading some and end up running to read them before class. And of course, it's taking forever, hence I decided to blog instead. Given that SSE charges per page we print, I'd be happy to pay the school for a "case pack" of this quarter's material.

Further, staying on the subjects of books, I ordered 2 off an academic website to which I was referred seeing the physical bookstore didn't have them. The website was entirely in Swedish, so here's hoping I got it right!

I never imagined this exchange was going to be easy. It's an adjustment no matter where you go, US or abroad. However, I've learned something important, at Darden I'm extremely spoiled... and I like it that way! Back to downloading articles. My laundry is in the dryer, which again is in Swedish (with some English instructions). We'll see if everything still fits - perhaps more motivation for the gym. :) Though capris would be very cold with today's snowfall.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Living with a Roommate

While I'm sure the title of this post will throw some people, I didn't do that on purpose, promise! Back in Charlottesville my gorgeous British roommate is holding down the fort. Here in Stockholm, I have a new roommate, who arrived last week. These are two very different types of roommates however. "British" and I share a two bedroom, two and half bath townhouse, with basement. My new roommate and I share a room, likely smaller than my room at home, as well as a bathroom and kitchenette. I'll admit, the setup could be worse. I imagined a dorm room with 13 girls sharing one bathroom and needing "shower shoes" again. This is not the case.

However, though I have a little nook that is approximately the size of a twin bed squared and a curtain that is two see-through white layers thick, I still hear everything in the "other room". That means, when my roomie decides that she can't sleep and 4a is a perfectly apt time to get up, I hear the pots, pans, microwave, and papers shuffling etc. On one hand, yes, I'm complaining, but that's because it was 4a. Think about it, what sane person arises at 4a? (I'm sure there are plenty, I'm just not one of them.) On the other hand, it forced me out of bed at 5:30a (as I could no longer sleep), which means by my 10a class I had been to the gym, purchased groceries from the store, talked with two special people in my life and had breakfast, twice. Seems, it was a rather productive morning!

All things considered, the new roomie is fun to be around. Plus she's originally from China, so my hope is that I will someday have a personal tour guide in Shanghai. I also won the housing lottery by lucking out with housing one-half block away from SSE and in the middle of central Stockholm. Most people commute for 20-30 minutes to get to this area.

In other news, the Darden exchange crew (there are four of us) is headed to Roma this weekend!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gym Membership

We're spoiled at Darden! While this is not new news, it is also abundantly clear being here in Stockholm. SSE is in the midst of a remodel that would essentially let the campus use more space year round (covering the outdoor courtyard in the middle of the building). Most the classrooms I've been in are your typical table and chairs, straight lines, no cascading. It is also very difficult to find a port for a laptop as the majority of students take notes with pen and paper. Printing is not free and there are few rooms that may be utilized for group projects. Not to mention, the school does not have a gym like University of Virginia, so instead, each person must idividually purchase a gym membership. It's not cheap! Approximately $80 for the first month and $65 for the second. However, if you're a semester long exchange student, there are discounts so that you pay less than $200 for 6 months. This is the story of our lives - everything is cheaper as a student, but only if you need access for 6 months!

Anyhow, back to the gym. Between my trip to India, my return to the states and first week in Stockholm, I've probably been to the gym twice. So this seemed easy enough, sign up for the gym, start working out! Problem: Treadmills are in kilometers and I typically run in miles. What speed do I need to warm up on? I started with 10 KMPH as a rough conversion. As I was running, I started thinking about high school track (I knew there was a reason I ran track!). Throughout the years I competed in a variety of events, one being the 1600 M, which is also known as the mile. Thus 1.6 KM * 6 MPH (typical warm up speed) = 9.6 KM per hour! Woo hoo! I decreased my speed. After I warmed up, I stretched and then walked over to the free weights. Problem 2: Free weights are in kg. Further the weights are not placed with their correct labels, and unlike many US weights, the free weights are made up of multiple rings that you can't read. For instance, 12.5kg will have two sides, both with a 5kg ring and a 1.25kg ring. The only visible number is 1.25kg on the two outside rings. The you have the conversion, which I looked up - 1kg is approximately 2.2 pounds. I must admit, every time I needed new weights, I stood there blankly doing calculations. The things we take for granted living in our home countries!

On a completely random's a great video featuring "the professor" aka one of my learning teammates. It shows the future! And yes, it's safe. Click Here!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Don't Get Too Excited!!

I suppose I should start by announcing that I have accepted a full time position!! While this is very exciting news, it also means that I start work May 24th, which is the day after I graduate. I had dreams about attending the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and traveling the world for the two months prior to joining some unknown firm. Unfortunately, none of these trips will be taken, and I'll settle for a week on the west coast, some time moving and then of course, the silver lining to second year, BEACH WEEK! The good news is, I'm excited about the position and the thought of making $$$ again!!

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a planner. Though I'm a planner only in how it relates to plane flights, hotel rooms and transportation to and from the airport. Most trips, I show up and will figure out what I'm doing doing/ seeing when I get there. So here I am planning again. The official communication about beach week reached our inbox today. I'm already trying to figure out how to get to California, move, attend beach week, then graduation and hopefully arrive in my new home in time for Day 1. Plus, maybe a trip to Vegas for Memorial Day Weekend! When I think about the fact that graduation is almost exactly 4 months from today, it seems silly that I'm trying to be so prepared. It's as if I'm ready to return to the states for Q4 and graduate, stepping forward to the next chapter. I can't help but remind myself to not get too excited. I mean this is it, right? No more school. No more living across the street from these friends. No more instant parties with 50 of your closest business school buddies. No more TNDC, first coffee, HBS cases, HBR articles, insanely smart peers, tormenting first years with new Darden cases, and no more stressing about finals and feeling the joy when they're over. It's crazy to think.

So in the meantime, I try to take a breath and keep my feet on the ground, while I contemplate venturing to Rome next weekend with my classmates who are on exchange. Maybe that will remind me that I have quite a few adventures left in this chapter.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Is Business School Right For Me?

Darden participates in a program with the McIntire School of Commerce, UVa's undergraduate business school. This program matches a Darden student with a current bachelor student to essentially be a peer and answer any questions the student has about an MBA. Given that I haven't been in one place long enough to hold a conversation with my peer, I finally wrote asking what sort of questions he had about an MBA. Surprisingly, he had a number of GREAT questions about an MBA. I finally sat down tonight to respond to him and thought the information may help others thinking about getting an MBA. Please note, these are MY opinions and may not include all the facts. Here it goes:

- How do you know if pursuing an MBA/graduate degree is worth the investment?

This is a very interesting question as I almost want to say that you don’t know if it is or is not worth the investment. Certain fields like banking and consulting can have a glass ceiling without an MBA, so I’d say you could definitely justify the investment. It is my opinion that an MBA from a top school will always be worth the investment in multiple ways. The most obvious way is compensation. You’re typically worth more as an MBA and the MBA is a great stepping stone for positions and careers that simply pay more. Another benefit is the network. I have met some of the most incredible people as an MBA and I believe it’s very different from a bachelor’s degree. People who are getting their MBAs at a top 20 school are often driven in ways I can’t explain. Darden in particular has an incredible network that can be used at any time and they’re always willing to help. This is quite similar to other programs. Plus, you’ll create a personal network of classmates who will likely do something big. I think an MBA also provides you with knowledge that you may have learned during your bachelors but is better understood today because you’ve had work experience. An MBA can open doors for a career switcher or perhaps open doors to firms that are considered more prestigious in the same field. I do believe the investment can be justified, however, it’s not a pure numbers game.

- What is the difference between an MBA and a lot of the other Master's programs some business schools offer such as a Master's in Finance?

I’ll admit, I’m not the best person to answer this question. Here’s my best shot. I think the main difference between the degrees is the concentration on what you learn. More MBA programs require that one covers a range of subjects, including organizational behavior. I imagine a Masters in Finance would focus specifically on Finance and not necessarily on Marketing and people skills. I could be wrong however. This link has a better explanation:

- What is the difference between the various MBA degrees?

I’m not entirely sure I understand this question. My assumption is that you mean an MBA at one school versus another and perhaps an MBA in “General Management” versus “Finance”. There are also different programs in the sense of the way the program is taught as well as its core requirements. Darden, like Harvard, teaches using a 100% case study method. Case study essentially means that students get more practicality than theory. Is it the “right” way to learn, that depends on the student. Case study has no lectures, you essentially learn everything from your peers. Professors often “manage” the discussion, only speaking 30% of the class. Students will read cases, and occasionally technical notes, then come to class discussing what they think the “right” answer is to the case. There is no one right answer. Most programs use some case study, but the percentage of case study varies. When schools aren’t doing case study, students attend lectures, much like I did in undergrad.

Some schools have concentrations while others are “general management”. For instance, Darden is a gen. mgmt school where no student is allowed to take more than 12 credit hours in any one discipline. In contrast, Chicago GSB has concentrations, one which you will often see is finance. This simply means that these students take more classes in that discipline in order to have the concentration. Some programs have a large set of core requirements, others allow you to test out of core classes. Darden sets a core that forces students to take courses in all disciplines (Finance, Marketing, Organizational Behavior, Accounting, Decision Analysis, Econ, Management Communication etc.) for the first 3 quarters. Haas (Berkeley) allows students to test out of subjects like econ and then take more electives. Ross (Michigan) forces students to do a MAP project which is essentially a quarter spent on a consulting gig. These projects can be located all over the world. Ross partners with companies and the students must present their findings to those companies. I also know McDonough (Georgetown) forces students to spend at least a week internationally. You also have 2 year programs and 1 year programs. I’m sure there are many benefits to a one year program (less $$, and less time spent without a job), however, I think the true benefit of a 2 year program is the ability to have a summer internship that potentially allows you to try a new industry, career path or even start your own company.

- When is the right time to get an MBA?

I think the right time for an MBA varies by person. In my honest opinion though, I’d suggest having a minimum of 3 years of work experience. I think having at least that much work experience allows you to have a better reference point for what you’re learning. You can also contribute as much as you learn. Plus, when you are recruiting, having something to speak about helps. Explaining why MBA when you have no work experience is a hard one. MBA schools want to know why you’re coming back to school, but then companies ask the same thing. I had 4 years of experience when I entered the program and felt that was right for me.

- How do you know which MBA school is right for you? Are different business schools known to specialize in particular things?

It sounds silly, but an MBA is all about fit. You’ll hear it time and time again, you’ll shake your head, but when you feel it’s right, you’ll understand what I mean. I’d like to propose the question of “what do you want to get out of the experience?” Some schools are known for rigor (Darden), others are known to be more social, yet still have an incredible reputation (Kellogg). Some schools have class sizes of 900 (HBS), others 100 (Minnesota) and then even others 300 (Darden). Don’t ever judge a school by one person, but try to understand who a group of people are and what makes them tick. Think about job prospects. While Wharton and Chicago GSB are known to be finance/quant schools, you have to remember that when you’re interviewing for jobs at Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, first and foremost, you’re competing against your classmates on campus. This means, it may be harder to get a 2nd interview with these companies. Other companies will bring students from all schools in together for second round interviews, so in a sense, you’re always competing against them too. Something to think about could be, can I get an education somewhere else that these companies recruit that still has a great reputation where I may compete against less people for finance. Something else to consider is, where do you want to live after school? I’ll be the first to admit, it’s hard to go to the West Coast from Darden given the school’s location. Is it impossible? No way!! It just means your job search may be more off grounds then others. That’s another thing to consider, how good is the career development center? MBA fairs are a great way to get a lot of material on a number of schools. I didn’t know where to start and as much as we all hate rankings, I ended up starting with them. Other considerations can be the cost of the city. I mean NYU is a great school, NYC is a fun city, but I imagine it costs more to be a student in NYC for 2 years than it costs me to be a student in Charlottesville. If you have a spouse, that could be a consideration – how many students are married, can your significant other find a job etc. I think there are many aspects to finding the right school and I hope this gives you something to think about. It’s a personal choice and it is all about the experience YOU want to have. Remember that. As far as specializing, some supposedly do, though I think they’re mostly stereotypes.

- When is the right time to take the GMAT? What is the best way to prepare for the GMAT?

If you have time when you graduate, that may be a great time to try the GMAT. I only say that because you’re still in studying mode and scores are good for 5 years (though I’m not sure what schools think about a dated GMAT score versus one that is closer to your application date). If you prefer to wait, I essentially started studying in March the year I thought I’d apply. I took the GMAT in July, researched in August and wrote essays September – November for Round 1 applications. Had I taken the GMAT earlier, I could have had more time for research, which probably would have helped. I also didn’t do many school visits and I think school visits tell you a lot about a program (though they can get expensive). Darden was the right choice for me and I knew it, so I don’t regret not visiting other schools. I can say that I didn’t realize Darden was the right program until I interviewed on campus. As for how to study, I had a number of GMAT books and studied for a couple hours a day on my own. On the weekends I would take practice tests (full length). Everyone does it differently. The official GMAT guides are great (comprehensive, verbal and quant). I also had a cliff notes refresher for algebra I, a Kaplan math book and a Princeton Review GMAT book. The key to the test in my opinion is knowing when to cut your losses. Given all the time in the world…and a calculator, we could answer all the problems perfectly. Kaplan also has an online quiz bank that costs $199 to access. Seeing that the test is all online, I bet the online quiz bank would be a great way to practice.

Here are some helpful links about GMAT, schools, information, perspectives… etc.

Clear Admit:
Current Applicant Blogs:
MBA Tour:
Forte Foundation (women’s organization that has some good info about getting an MBA as well as a LONGER list of resources than I have here):


I'm not even a week into my exchange in Sweden and I've been rather surprised about a number of things. First, the exchange students here at SSE are both masters and bachelors students. Not only are there both kinds of students, but also during orientation and all the activities we've had thus far, we're all mixed in. There's nothing that screams masters versus bachelors and at times I find myself wondering who is in which program.

Another interesting aspect of the bachelors-masters differential is that I find the US masters students to be much older than any of the other masters students. I'm not sure if that's because it's customary to have work experience of several years for enrollment into US business schools or if the master's students are in fact not MBA students but masters in finance, marketing or some other concentration.

It constantly amazes me how many different countries are represented in the exchange group. There are 87 of us in total. I have three classmates here as well, however, none of them are US born. Instead, two of them yield from India and the other from Ghana. During our first Swedish lesson, we learned how to say "I am from..." Here are some of the countries people noted: USA, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Spain, France, Holland, Pakistan, India, Italy, Romania, Denmark, Switzerland, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hungary, Finland, the Philippines, Ireland, Belgium, and Austria. I suppose I should get to know one person from each country so I have more friends to go visit!

Everyone in the program speaks English, however, you'll definitely hear groups speaking to each other in their native tongue. It always amazes me how many languages these individuals speak. I'd say, I speak one, with a little ability to speak broken French. The girl from Switzerland speaks Swiss-German, a bit of German, some French, a little Korean, broken Spanish...and the list goes on. I still can't say more than a couple Swedish words without my helpful piece of paper. At least I've learned thank you, Tack!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Struggle That Is

Honestly, I wish I could say Darden is more than happy to accommodate students who wish to and are going on exchange, though lately, this seems to be the opposite. Do you blame them? Darden has some, if not, the best professors in the world. The school provides a vast array of courses for everyone from the quant-junkies to those of us who'd like to indulge in a book or 7 and get course credit. The program is known for rigor and I'll admit, I've had my trials, ironically loving every minute. So what's the big deal with exchange? In my opinion, the problem is that Darden doesn't know how to let go. At the end of the day it's their name on the diploma and when one is overseas, Dad's got to give it a rest.

A full course load (I've likely mentioned this before) is 5 classes at Darden = 7.5 credit hours. In comparison, a full course load at SSE is 2 classes as the school doesn't track credits hours in the same manner. Taking Leadership and Theater as a J-Week class has allowed me to make Q3 a 6 credit hour quarter. This is where I run into problems. The course I'm most interested in taking will only give me 2 credit hours. I'm registered for two other courses, while likely still interesting though less so, will give me 3 credit hours each. I can try to overload by taking three courses, however I risk not experiencing the culture as much as I'd like. There's an optional ungraded Swedish course for exchange students that I attempted to see if I could take for an extra credit hour, but simply got a short answer of no credit "for several reasons."

I want to be clear, I'm not asking for special treatment. All I want is a bit of reasonability as I believe this experience is as much for me as an individual as it can be for school recognition by the future leaders of the world. I came to Darden knowing and wanting to do an exchange. Here I am. I just wish some of the hoops could be removed for the next SSE exchange student.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hello Stockholm!

My classmates and I managed to find our way to pick up our keys to our "dorms" today. The place is quaint and though I'm having flashbacks of my college dorm room, I like the fact that the beds are separated by a curtain. After dropping my items and snooping around, I noticed there was no toilet paper, so I set out on a quest to find food and TP.

I walked towards 7-11, only to find that they did not have what I wanted. After taking a couple turns, I continued my journey until I finally came across a Best Western. I stopped, asked for a map and then asked where I could purchase TP and groceries. Turns out, if I had initially ventured right instead of left, I would have been half a block away from a market, two in fact!

My first market trip was an experience. The breads all smelled fresh baked and absolutely delicious. The fruit looked edible, though that wasn't top of my mind. I picked up a box of "Digestives", which are some sort of British cracker my friends and I discovered in India. Next, I went looking for milk. I wish I could say this was easy. I drink skim milk at home and was looking for something comparable. I ran into the age old problem of being in a new country, everything is in SWEDISH! It makes all the sense in the world, yet makes it quite difficult for a newbie. I took at least 10 minutes until I finally settled on a milk that I presume is 0.5% fat, as far as I know, the closest thing to non-fat that the store had. I grabbed Cheerios, which boldly display Nestle instead of General Mills, as well as TP and cleaning supplies. These items were dropped back at my place, then I went to get my wireless setup. That proved to be painless.

Since then, I've been avoiding unpacking. I used Skype for the first time today and have decided it's a brilliant idea. I paid $6 for a subscription that allows me to call anywhere in the states for the month. I gave my boyfriend the grand tour of my apartment a la webcam. However, there's still something about the webcam that just makes me feel dirty, though it provided much entertainment when my boyfriend couldn't figure out how to change his video feed to show himself instead of a talking cat, dog or other furry friend (using Microsoft communicator, not Skype). Once we switched to Skype, he accented the video with snow and disco lights. There's much to be explored tomorrow and the day kicks off with orientation!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Leadership and Theater Recap

The only word I can use to describe last week is incredible. Twenty-three of my classmates and I spent 36 hours writing, casting, directing and preparing to put on a play. A play on which I received multiple compliments when we finished.

We wrote the play on Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon, our professor turned us loose and said he expected us to be ready for a read-through at 3p. I quickly learned that certain parts of the decision process need all twenty-four voices, while other parts of the process need a select few to take the lead. The other difficulty was confronting the elephant in the room. My classmates and I had just read 17 scenes and while I commend each person, let's be honest, they didn't all fit and there was too much material for a one hour play. After cutting the scenes to 14, we realized something else no one anticipated. One scene that was voted quite unanimously as a yes had no one interested in acting in it. It was apparently a bit over the top as far as language and insinuations, so we cut it. After the scenes were casted, I made a quick order based on how the group decided they wanted an overall order to look. We were indeed ready for our first read-through at 3p and though our processor and his friend were encouraging, they likely wanted to say, good play, the order sucks.

Criticism, no matter how constructive, is something with which I've been working since I started at Darden. What is the appropriate way to handle feedback? Thinking someone with more experience and a new set of eyes is wrong, leads the process at a standstill. Luckily, one of my classmates stepped up to the challenge and was willing to stare endlessly with me at the order of scenes. How were we going to take thirteen different scenes, half of which discussed marriage and the other half of which discussed funerals, and completely tie them together. I left at 6:30p on Thursday night for dinner, distraught. There was no way we were going to pull this off. We had no direction other than to "fix" it. Multiple people had ideas, but no one wanted to execute. Everyone had their scenes, no one wanted to learn new lines or take on additional roles. I returned at 8:30p for my first rehearsal (we were short of girls, so I ended up in 2 scenes). The rehearsal went well and I met with my group for my second rehearsal. We were watching two people prepare their scene (one was the "wedding planner" and the other was the "undertaker", staring at the order and all of a sudden, everyone had the same idea. What if this scene was changed and these people essentially used their lines to introduce the subsequent scenes. We wrote some new lines, changed these people's original scene and found a new order. Somehow the pieces fell into place!!

Friday, I felt much better. We shared the idea with the rest of the cast and received little fuss. It worked! With each dress rehearsal, we got better. By the final show, people were sincerely impressed with our accomplishments. It was an incredible feeling! Not to mention, I also ended up with a bouquet of flowers, a farewell gift for Sweden (cashmere hat and scarf!!), and a handful of grades which make me proud! The cast finished the night with pizza and beer at Mellow Mushroom, a well earned treat after a hard workweek! During the week, I definitely made some new friends and learned more about my classmates. If asked to do it again, hands down, I would!!

Friday was an incredible day!

The Next Adventure

Every so often I start posts and never finish them. They typically end up as one or two lines as a draft to only be revisited and never finished. I'm cleaning out my draft box and I found this:

"Right now, I honestly wish the suitcase would just pack itself!! I seem to fill one suitcase, meander around for a while and then I start removing items from the suitcase. I'm still not convinced I'm packing the right items for a quarter in Sweden. I grabbed every thick sweater I own. I think I have 2 t-shirts that can double as bedtime shirts, but beyond that, all sleeves are at least 3/4 length and most have a turtleneck companion. There is a lot of excitement buried behind this angst of packing."

I find it a bit comical as I am six days away from my next packing. While last time it was to come to Sweden, this time, it is to head home. It's bittersweet as I think about loading up my suitcase next Monday. I'm crossing my fingers that I don't need to do laundry before then. A number of my exchange classmates are out of town this weekend and thus I'm not sure what to think about last weekend in Stockholm festivities. In addition, a number of first years and one second year from Darden are in Stockholm this week on a GBE. Ideally, I'd kick off tomorrow night with the Darden dinner followed by a night at Cafe Opera, which is a hot club that I've never actually attended. Since my leadership project group has already chosen that we must meet on Thursday, I'm not sure if clubbing on Wednesday will happen. It seems I have a lot to do and little time these days.

I guess at this point, the next adventure is Q4 at Darden with the working world looming shortly behind. I'm trying to balance my last quarter in Charlottesville with few trips - though with two planned already, I'm not sure I'm doing a good job. A group of Darden students are heading to the Duke MBA games and I'm traveling with my boyfriend to Chicago to look at places to live. It amazes me how fast time flies and I know it will feel even faster when I return to the US.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Decision

With torn emotions I announce that I have received a job offer. Prestigious firm. Fortune 100 company. Interesting opportunity. Training and development program. Doable start date (likely a tidbit earlier than preferred). Good numbers.

Then there's the but. Likely the only reason I sit here still contemplating yes or no. It's in a different city than my significant other. The city difference has the potential not to be permanent, though that potential is not guaranteed either way.

It's interesting. Many people arrive at business school with significant others, husbands, or wives. Some of these significant others or spouses live in the city in which the student attends business school. Others stay at home, bringing home the bacon while the student furthers their education in a land far away. I've seen it work. I've seen it not work. Relationships in business school blossom and others faint away. Sometimes I think the level of intensity in business school fast forwards relationships that start here. And perhaps, it also fast forwards relationships brought here. There's a lot of stress on both individuals, whether one or both are attending business school. So what does the relationship have to do with the post business school job?

On one hand, I'd love to hold out for a chance to move to Chicago. On the other hand, I believe that after business school each individual needs to take the best opportunity that they can for their career. We didn't pay enormous amounts of cash or acquire substantial debt for an MBA for no reason. So I suppose the end question is, at what point is it appropriate to be a little selfish? And can that selfishness be balanced with not destroying one's personal life? While my significant other is incredibly supportive of me, my opportunities and my future, I can't help but wonder what happens if I take the path to which I'm leaning versus the alternative.

To be continued...


During Second Year, students have the benefit of taking what is called a January week class, a la J-Week. This is essentially a 1.5 credit hour class fit into 5 solid days, 8 hours a day instead of a quarter long at 1.5 hours a day. Some alumni have recommended quarter long courses that are better taught in one week. Others claim you should take a "fun" class for the week. I chose to take Leadership and Theater, which could likely be described as entertaining.

Over the last two days, we've done everything from improv to free writing to practicing and rehearsing scenes from plays. It's definitely been a bit different from the stereotypical quant classes for which business school is known. At times, it's very fun. Other times, it can be a bit frustrating - forgetting lines you've recited multiple times is nothing less than taxing. Supposedly we'll write, cast and direct our own manifestation of a play by Friday. I'm skeptical, but after putting on a performance yesterday given 3 hours and a number of limitations, maybe we're better than we think we are. By the end of this class, though we aren't directly linking it during class with leadership, we have to write a paper on what we learned from the class in the context of leadership. I've been taking notes and have noticed that the class is more relevant than one may think.

Here's a couple links talking about the class and its origins (please note I have watched neither of these videos in full as we were asked to wait until after class ends):

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Great Moments of 2009!

Over the last couple of years, I've compiled a best of list. For me, it's fun to look back on these lists and remember what I did and what impacted me.

So here it goes, my great moments for 2009 (no order):

1. Andrea's Wedding in SF
2. Valentine's Day Party with the Girls
3. Darden Outdoors Club's Snowshoe Ski Trip (Girls beat Guys in Flip Cup approx. 7 consecutive times)
4. Spring Break in Spain (Barcelona and Madrid)
5. Darden Follies and Carnival
6. KY Derby and My AWESOME Hat
7. Blogger Dinner at Dean Bruner's House (he barbecued burgers...yummy!)
8. Soccer Tournament in Vegas (and making playoffs!)
9. Landing an Internship at a Fortune 100 Company
10. Memorial Day Weekend in Atlanta, Nat came to visit (my first ATL weekend)
11. Fourth of July at Surfside Beach (South Carolina)
12. Pre-birthday celebration at XS in Vegas
13. Birthday festivities in Washington DC with cousin and classmates (plus a DC United game)
14. Road Trip in California
15. Brandi's Wedding in Vegas
16. Receiving Second Round Interview Invites
17. Darden Oktoberfest
18. Dinner at an alums' and Reaching Out Target Party (ROMBA Conference in Atlanta)
19. Halloween in SF (Surprised a number of friends)
20. Impromptu Ladies Night...leading to Tequila shots
21. Darden Holiday Ball
22. India!!
23. Taj Mahal
24. Interview from India...4p EST, 2:30a India time
25. Riding a Camel in India
26. The births of Jenna, Jackson and Ari
27. Having the same NYE kiss 2 years in a row