Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Darden 10-K

Once upon a time, every year, Darden would produce its annual 10-K. This is not an annual report giving facts and figures about the school's finances and performance, but an annual yearbook for each class to remember the great moments of their time at Darden. Though I'm not exactly sure when, Darden stopped producing the 10-K until two of my classmates chose to resurrect it this year. Sounds fun huh?

The only difficulty is the yearbook photo. In order for all the pictures to be licensed to my classmates and generally similar in quality and size, they set up two full days of picture taking, starting today. My time slot was 9a-9:50a this morning. I must admit, deciding what to wear was a little nerve wrecking. Unlike social networking sites, this photo can't be updated or changed and likely, will be how people remember you for class reunions. Needless to say, after enough quality "girl" time, I decided that I didn't care anymore and a shirt/sweater combo was the outfit of choice.

What amused me even more was the operational procedures written out for volunteers helping with the registration and photo taking. They included what to do if different bottlenecks occurred - be it the registration desk or the cameras. I made a comment about the impressive nature of the procedures, to which the response was that they, based on an idea from another classmate, had used queuing theory to craft the instructions. Only an MBA!

Here was the setup:
From Collages

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Record deal?

There's a reason I don't sing karaoke. Let's say, the reason is as good for the public as it is for my self-esteem. Though today, I not only sang karaoke, but three of my classmates and I sang our own (or slightly changed) lyrics to instrumental versions of Kesha's Tik Tok and TI's Whatever You Like. As the four of us leaned over one mike, which actually had a screen, I felt confident that I could be drowned out. Then CD said this would sound better if each of us recorded the song solo. This allows our digital music master to change the vocal levels based on who nailed it and who didn't. Definitely a nightmare come true!

Regardless, the final version of both songs are fantastic. This is another item to add to the list of "things I never expected to do in business school." It also means that Darden will be a force with which to be reckoned at Duke's MBA games. CD ended up with a cameo appearance in Tik Tok - Darden style as none of us hit the chorus perfectly (and he sounds better than we do). All it took to complete this masterpiece was a little bribery - via beer! Most students' weak spot.

I will admit, CD's studio is incredible. Guitars, drums, keyboards and all the equipment needed to record a song. Very cool!! And a BIG THANK YOU to our artist and master. I'm not looking for a record deal this week...though the team is thinking music video + follies would be fantastic!

From Collages

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pause for Reflection

I find it interesting that these days I seem to pause more than normal. A month from tomorrow, I will officially be done with school, again. I say again as the very first post of this blog was from the day I graduated college. At that time, I wasn't sure if I would ever return. I'm not sure I appreciated education as much as I do today. Funny how things change.

This weekend, five of my classmates and I will embark on an adventure - Duke's MBA Games. Approximately 15 schools will compete to help raise funds for Special Olympics. In all honesty, I'm not sure exactly what we're competing for (besides charity, obviously), but it should be fun nonetheless. In participating in the MBA games, I've consciously decided not to partake in BGIA - which was an absolutely amazing time last year. I guess this year, I wanted a new adventure. Additionally, what better way to bond with classmates?!

And bonding has begun... On Friday, those of us attending Duke's MBA games have to do a cheer/skit/dance to essentially introduce ourselves. I invited everyone in our group over for dinner and drinks (because liquid courage helps all brainstorming events) to decide on a cheer/skit/dance. Needless to say, we picked a couple songs, replaced some lyrics and tomorrow will become singers under Darden's very own producer, CD! CD is a musician, has a band and can do incredible things with everything from voice over to powerpoint. As we struggled through finding the right words and number of syllables, I thought, I'm going to miss this - and these people. Granted I'm still 100 pages short on my Thomas Jefferson Reading Seminar, but you can't replace these good moments of smiles and laughter. This blog has helped me pause over the last two years and I'm thankful. Otherwise, the time may have simply flown by.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Graduation Prep

Yesterday, Darden's Class of 2010 had a mandatory graduation meeting. I use the term mandatory loosely as there was no attendance taken and it was clear part of the class was missing. Items covered included beach week, the annual pig roast, ceremonies at UVA and Darden, and picking faculty marshals and a student speaker. As I sat there and looked around the room, I recognized a lot of familiar faces. Then it hit me, in approximately six weeks, I'm done with school. Tag on another three and I'll not only be a graduate, but also working again. Where did the two years go?

My classmates and I banter about staying longer, fully knowing it'd be next to impossible not to graduate at this point. One of my classmates is headed to the law school next year, for the next three. While excited for him, we wonder how much debt he actually wants to accumulate. I've received a couple notes from people who have either accepted or declined their offers to be admitted to the Class of 2012. I still remember that day jumping around like you wouldn't believe. Then of course, there's all the planning that follows to move.

At times, I'm excited for the next step. I'm still surprised that I'm not returning to the Bay Area. Yet, every time I meet someone new who is from SF, has lived in Colorado or spent a good deal of their life in Atlanta, it reminds me why taking advantage of living in a variety of places is great. It allows you to instantly connect with so many people.

On a separate note, I'm taking the Thomas Jefferson reading seminar. I figured I should know more about our Founding Fathers and this incredible President before I leave his homeland. It also has me thinking that maybe it is time to explore more of the US. With less time off in the near future, this may prove to be a grand idea.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcome Back to Cville

It's been an absolute insane couple of days. I had my final presentation for Psychology of Financial Markets on Monday. Afterwards, I took my last jaunt around Stockholm. Saluhall - still the best blueberries I've ever had! Chokladfabriken - AMAZING dark chocolate hot chocolate! I contemplated bringing some back to the states though I thought better of it. Packing and cleaning didn't take too much effort. I had a couple goodbyes, though some friends were still traveling through Europe. I was surprised about some of the cute notes I received. It's amazing how you can bond with people after only 2 months! Plus, I now have more people to visit around the world, and I definitely will!

Tuesday afternoon, I arrived in Washington DC to the smiling face of my boyfriend. We took a trip to Costco and he poked fun at how wide-eyed I looked. I guess I didn't realize it, but I was definitely looking around more than normal. That night, we attended Darden's quarterly mustache competition. I don't think I've been to one since first year. Very entertaining and definitely some dedicated mustache contestants.

Wednesday kicked off Q4 for me! No break. No rest. No moment to unpack! It's been full steam ahead. I've finally decided which class I'm going to drop with the reason that the class I'm keeping has no final exam. Instead, a quarter long group project will be presented the last two days of class. There's something to be said for being done as early as possible given that I'm starting work so early. Trying to maximize what little time I get off!

Best aspect of being back: SPRING WEATHER! It's been 65-70+ since I landed and I couldn't be happier about it. I've seen many familiar faces and gotten numerous comments welcoming me back. When people ask me about the experience, I'm not sure what else to say other than, it was great. I'm still adjusting and maybe in a week I'll have a appropriate reflection. Back to the books!

Monday, March 15, 2010


It always takes a few months to settle into a new place and a new city. By the time I finished my stay in Atlanta this summer, I think I had started to get the hang of it. And here, I'm feeling the same way. I'm a creature of habit, especially in my eating habits. Once I've found something I like, no, love, it's hard for me to switch. As I get older, I've gotten better about being adventurous. Regardless, there's an amazing sandwich shop two doors down from my apartment building. I've been there multiple times by now, so I figured I should order one last sandwich before I leave. Most the staff is the same day-in and out, but there's one guy in particular who knows exactly what I like. Over the last week he's started my sandwich (as I like it "toasted") before I really order it. Today, he was my server and asked if I wanted "the usual." I confirmed and felt a little funny as I was going to walk out that door, not to be back tomorrow or even the day after. By the time I do return, and I plan on it, he likely won't be there and no one will know that once I felt I like a local.

Off to my presentation meeting. Four hours of school left.. then I continue to pack and clean.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

31 hours and counting

It's just after midnight in Stockholm and my flight to the US leaves at 7a on Tuesday morning. I can't believe this adventure is basically over! Tomorrow I have a presentation to do and besides that, it's packing and cleaning. Last night, I started putting all my dirty clothes in a suitcase - reality set in, I'm going home for my last quarter of business school. Wow!

Unlike my classmates who have been gallivanting in exotic places like China, Egypt, Costa Rica and Bahrain for spring break, this past week I have been working to complete all SSE schoolwork before I leave. Besides all the group projects, for Leadership, I had to write a case with analysis that is not technically due until March 19th. However, my goal has been not to take any SSE homework with me to Darden. So I spent Friday night writing my leadership case and went to bed at 7:30a on Saturday morning. Needless to say, the last 3 paragraphs made little sense and had to be rewritten prior to submission. That said, it's done and I'm almost done.

I arrive in Charlottesville at the end of Day 1 of Q4 classes, meaning I miss Day 1. I'm still struggling to narrow down my schedule too. I need four classes to graduate and there are six I would like to take. Currently, I am registered for five, knowing that I need to drop one by the end of this week. I'm hoping that I'll walk out of one of the classes with the insight - this isn't for me.

In the meantime, I'm wrapping up a PPT presentation, thinking about putting a couple more items in my suitcase and enjoying the crisp air that is coming in through my cracked window. 31 hours and counting...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Amazing Day in Stockholm

I just finished the $12 blueberries I purchased at Saluhall this afternoon. Likely pricey, though I'd argue they're some of the best blueberries I've ever had. There again, I don't recall the last day I had blueberries.

After yesterday's productive 15 hour day and my crazy busy week of schoolwork, I decided to take the afternoon off. I definitely got up later than I anticipated, but managed to have the usual Panini sandwich for lunch. There, I ran into two people from Darden who are here on the Sweden GBE for spring break. Small world!

Since I've been in Sweden, I hadn't done any shopping or really much wandering around since the first couple of weekends. There's at least four H&M stores within a block of each other. I've seen at least three Zara stores scattered around. And there are many boutiques and department stores in Central Stockholm. So I figured, today was the day! I was actually going to purchase a souvenir, so that I'm not only declaring schoolbooks (and some clothes I purchased in London).

I grabbed my camera "just in case." It's been an absolutely beautiful week in Stockholm, which contrasts to this Barcelona GBE. As I walk around, Stockholm looks different. Previously frozen canals are now mostly running water with random chunks of ice. There are more people here too. I notice handfuls of tourists. And generally, people are walking around, enjoying the sun.

H&M was a bust. I scored two tops at Zara. I purchased a "very Swedish" necklace by Sno of Sweden. And capped off my multi-hour and multi-mile adventure with delicious hot chocolate and treats for later by Chokladfabriken. Amazing is the only way I know how to explain the day. Check out the photos below! Also, I finally updated this post with photos.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Winding Down

It's shortly after 1a and I'm just returning from a 15 hour group meeting. During those 15 hours, my group changed locations three times. We stopped for lunch, which means everyone simply brought take-out to home base. Between our first and second move, we grabbed snacks (fika). Subsequently, I skipped dinner and have since realized that I have VERY little food left. Two handfuls of Cheerios killed the box. Now I've moved on to carrots and spinach. While I'm sure your interest doesn't lie in my late night dietary habits, I'm a bit spent!

This quarter abroad is truly winding down. My flight to the US is within grasp - 4 more days! I turned in my Psychology of Financial Markets study today. My Leadership (today's group) is complete by my standards. Now I have one more leadership project to prep, which actually isn't due until March 19th, though I'd prefer to leave all SSE schoolwork in Stockholm rather than trying to manage SSE work and Darden work concurrently. Besides that, my final presentation for Psych. is on Monday and by the end of that day, my bags will be packed for greener pastures (literally).

While 15 hours straight and multiple project days is never fun, I've learned a lot about my Swedish/German classmates in the last week. To a certain extent, I could almost say I've had fun. Further, now having completed two theoretical papers/studies, I do have an appreciation for all the theory I claimed to despise (I think that was two days ago!). Don't anticipate this as me saying I like it, but more that I have an understanding of it. Additionally, today's editing task was a test of my ability to write clear, concise sentences. The things we do for word count! I had flashbacks of business school essays and remembering that it's much easier to cut than add.

I think at this point my tea has cooled, my bed is calling and tomorrow will bring more activities to wind down my days in Sweden. Just a couple more days left in this chapter.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


SSE has been an interesting contrast to Darden. Most of what we read at SSE is theoretical papers. Even our texts are based, at least partially, around theory. The most I can remember about theory at Darden over the last 1.5 years is finance. Should we use a risk-free rate of 10 years or 30 years? Most of the time, our professor would point to theory (though logically any valid argument would allow you to use either on a test), while many people going into finance would ask for practicality. Beyond that, I don't recall a lot of theory (however it is possible that it's embedded in our tech notes and I never noticed).

I don't want to say theory is bad, as it is obviously important for parts of practicality. Though I will say, it's extremely boring and I'd rather have the two page recap instead of the 20 page dissertation. One of my Booth friends mentioned that they do theory all the time. All I thought was, thank heaven I didn't apply there! I'm not sure if I could have handled it. Plus, I find that I actually enjoyed classes at Darden (yes, they get boring at times), but overall, I learned a lot. Here, I'm convinced I've learned something (at least that's what my latest exam says), however, the practical application of all this theory just seems silly to me.

What's even more annoying is in two out of my three group projects, our final paper is a form of theoretical dissertation. Thus, we need to find old theories to cite that will complement our new theory or findings. While I think it's important to cite what others think, I think it's even more important to learn to say what you think. It's true, not all thoughts are based on evidence, though it seems SSE would like them to be.

One thing I've accomplished - a talent at searching Google Scholar for articles.

Seven more days until I'm return to the US and Darden's case method. It's absolutely flown.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Swedish Lappland

The adventure started on Thursday night. Between the bus and two trains, it took roughly 18 hours to get to Kiruna, Sweden. We arrived, three hours later than anticipated. We were picked up by an LKAB bus that took us to the iron ore mine that is effectively the reason for Kiruna’s existence. We went over 500 meters down into the ground to a showroom that describes much of who LKAB is and why this mine in particular exists. Very cool and a great way to start off our trip. Even crazier is the fact that the town of Kiruna will be moved soon as there's a little cracking several hundred meters below the surface that no one knows what will happen if LKAB continues to drill further down.

After 18 hours of traveling which of course included a couple adult beverages on the train, everyone was beyond starving. We stopped in an area that I’d equate to a small American strip mall that had more restaurants than shops. A handful of the 40 exchange students decided on pizza for lunch. Turns out, ordering pizza to go infers that you receive a discounted price and thus are not allowed to eat it inside the restaurant. So we took the pizza to the bus and ate it there. It definitely hit the spot!

Thirty minutes later, the group arrived at the original Ice Hotel. It was different than I expected as I assumed the hotel would be in the middle of nowhere. Our guided tour highlighted why the hotel started, the fact that their church (which only really exists for 5 months out of the year) is the fourth most popular in Sweden, and the hotel is different every single year. Traditional rooms are rather boring, but the art suites is where indivudal artists apply to create something new. Unfortunately, the hotel had a power outage, so none of the suites were lit up. Instead, the best way to decipher the “art” was to take a picture. I’ll admit, I’m happy I saw it, but I definitely didn’t need to stay the night. Brrr…

We arrived at our hotel just in time for dinner – another 2 hours on the bus from the Ice Hotel. The food was absolutely amazing – every day – all meals! That night, we were given one piece ski suits, warm gloves and warm shoes. After dinner, a number of us went outside to the snow covered (approx 2 feet) lake and played in the snow. Saturday was busy – including making the base for Sunday’s snow sculptures, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. I did not partake in the last event, however, everyone who did said it was a blast!! Sunday morning started with half of us going to a reindeer farm to feed, lasso and drive a reindeer sled. Overall, an incredible trip! Though I didn’t complete nearly as much homework as I anticipated. Will hopefully post pictures later.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Trade Offs

Life is about trade offs. Business school is about trade offs. Every decision or inaction is about trade offs. I chose to spend Q3 in Stockholm instead of Charlottesville. I signed for a job I wanted fully knowing I would be in a different city than my boyfriend after business school and that I would start within days of graduation, instead of August 2010 like most my classmates.

My most recent trade off is attending a close friend's wedding instead of a soccer tournament in Vegas. While I'm sure those don't seem equal to most, the Vegas tournament has been one of the highlights of the last two years. And as silly as this sounds, not being in SF makes it harder to go, so I don't want to fall off the invite list completely. But of course, it's not fun to disappoint friends and thus, I will be there to congratulate one of my close friends for the last 12 years on his wedding day. Did I mention his bride-to-be doesn't like me? Though I'm hoping after 9 years, we can try first impressions once again.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Grocery Store Challenge

Living in the heart of Stockholm has its perks. One is that everything seems to be within walking distance including grocery stores, which these days, I seem to visit more and more often. My fridge is the size of a fridge in a traditional US college dorm. And now that I think about, it may be even smaller than my fridge at Colorado. Regardless, it's small and I share it with another person, complicating the fact that very little fits in it. Thankfully, some items are smaller here. Milk is purchased in liters instead of gallons. Eggs can be bought in packs of six (I know this is similar to the US). And I seem to live on small Dole packs of spinach and carrots.

Luckily, I live very close to four grocery stores. Lidl is literally next door to my building. Coop Konsum is a block and half away. ICA is 3-4 blocks in the opposite direction and Hemkop is roughly a mile away. Lidl is known to be CHEAP - and what comes with cheap is slightly defunct produce and a need for a high level of patience. Coop Konsum, while much nicer in appearance and products is not as nice in price. I still haven't been to ICA though it seems like the middle ground between the other two. Further, the store supposedly has NONFAT milk (all others carry 0.5% fat). Hemkop is a store that supposedly has anything you would want, though I've been in, I've never purchased anything - likely do its distance from my house.

Given that markets here have a very limited selection of items compared to supermarkets in the US, I find myself more and more wanting to go to TWO grocery stores. Sometimes the reason is price, while other times I simply like different products at different stores. This is such a new phenomenon for me as I typically go to ONE store for a week's worth of food versus multiple stores every 2-3 days because I don't have room for much. RetailRelay, a grocery delivery service in Charlottesville, has one of its value propositions as the fact that they'll go to multiple specialty shops so that you don't have to. I never quite understood that... until now.

One other item I'd like to draw attention to is cereal. I LOVE cereal. Some days, out of choice, I'll have cereal for multiple meals. In the states, I've gotten good at pinpointing cereals with high fiber and relatively low sugar. This is in contrast to Sweden, where I've pretty much decided almost all cereals have lots of sugar. I can't quite figure out if part of that is because the measuring system is different (servings tend to be noted per 100g instead of cups) or they simply like more sugar. Even my relatively "healthy" cheerios are sweeter here. It's a bit odd.

First item of business when I return to the US - COSTCO! Simply because I can. ;)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Long Day

I walked into the house and thought thank goodness it is empty. Now I'd like to point out that there is NOTHING wrong with my roommate. I've just been going nonstop since 6a when I continued my studying for today's leadership-decision making exam. Sometimes it is nice to return to the silence of home and simply put your feet up.

I also received a letter from mom today. All I could think of is she's as scatter brained as I am. Maybe that's where I get my unending random thoughts. And as always, it is good to get mail.

One of the two projects that is due next Wednesday is practically complete. The other is started though we need to complete some data analysis before writing our section about results. I suppose I could start the section regarding how we collected data. My third group project that is due next week will hopefully have a big dent tomorrow. It seems all my classes are converging on the same due dates and it doesn't help that I'm leaving this weekend. The good news about Lappland is that I can't imagine a reason for spending prolonged periods of time outside, by choice.

Time for dinner and ideally the gym, though I'd almost prefer a nap. Two weeks until I return to the US - a very exciting and scary thought. The last quarter is almost here.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry