Friday, September 30, 2005

First Day of School

So I know it seems like I've had 3 first days of school, but I think today was the official first day. Then again, maybe Monday will be, since that's the first day of actual classes. It's all very confusing. We've had a lot of "Welcome Receptions" too, with lots of juice and snacks. Very strange. We're having yet another one tomorrow night, in fact!

Anyway, today we all had to wear full-on business attire to school. And tomorrow we have to do it again! I think they wanted us to act (and look) professional for a change, and we also had to take photos today for the school yearbook and the online recruiting service thing. So this morning got off to an awesome start as I hiked the 6 long uphill blocks to the bus stop in my heels and business suit. Fortunately I had stashed some sneakers in my bag, and I put those babies on while I was riding the bus. It made the 2nd hike (from the bus stop to the school) slightly more bearable and all the other girls who didn't plan ahead were jealous.

We started off in the auditorium at 10am (though they told us to arrive at 9:30 - awesome) with a welcome from one of the professors. Then we had a talk from another professor, Paddy Miller, about "The Problem of Management." Paddy Miller is hilarious and I wish he could talk to us about the problem of management every morning. After that, we had a presentation from the Associate Dean of the MBA Program, who told us we were going to have to study, study, study, and that the next 19 months will fly by. After that, another presentation, this time from the Associate Exec Director of the MBA Program, who told us similar stuff, but with some extra info about Student Affairs and how cool we are as a class. (That's what I got out of it, anyway.)

Then it was finally time for lunch, and our first meeting with our teams. Within each section (I'm in A, and there are 2 other sections), we are again divided into teams of 8 to 10 people. I'm in team A-6, and I am in one of very few teams with more than one female. I knew almost all of my team members already (one is my neighbor, another is in my Spanish group) but it was nice to sit down and chat with the people I'll be seeing every morning (and then some) every day of my first year. I will be meeting my team every morning at 8:15 to discuss the case studies we read the previous night to prepare for the upcoming day of classes. Tomorrow morning is our first official meeting. Each team also has a faculty advisor, but ours is unfortunately teaching in Madrid this week, so we had a stand-in and we'll meet our actual advisor next week.

After lunch, we had two more sessions. One hour regarding the administrative and academic policies of IESE, and the other giving background on the Case Study Method, which is how we will be doing all of our learning. At 4:30, the photographs started. As a person whose last name starts with 'S,' it seems I'll often get the Shaft in many regards. For instance, today I was in the last group to be photographed, so I had to wait until 6pm. I spent the time beforehand in the library preparing our first case, about a company deciding where to open a new manufacturing plant in the Midwest. These are exciting times.

Now I'm finally home and I have to finish preparing the case for tomorrow and also review some accounting and math stuff to prepare for next week. There is a BOW event tonight, but it starts at midnight so I'm currently not planning to go. We have a very long day ahead of us tomorrow.

To top everything off, Casey went back to New York today. In fact, he's on the plane to JFK as I write this. It's too bad he couldn't stay through the weekend as planned, because we were hoping to go to Menorca and enjoy my last weekend of freedom, but fortunately he has already booked his return ticket for the end of October, when we have a long holiday weekend. It was so nice to have him here, but I felt badly that I was in school most of the time and didn't get to see him as much as I would've liked. That's life at business school, I guess.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Career Week

Whew, I'm exhausted! We are nearly through day two of Career Week, and it has been a whirlwind. Yesterday we had a introduction to Career Services and then one of the professors gave the most charismatic talk so far. He's American (the first American professor I've met at IESE) and his talk was absolutely hilarious and very engaging. Unfortunately, he teaches in Section B, so he won't be teaching any of my classes.

After lunch, we had a big talk from the CEO of a company called Insights, which does personality testing and feedback. I suppose one could consider it a lot of mumbo-jumbo, but it was entertaining... for the first few hours anyway. By the end of the day, everyone was struggling to keep their eyes open. I found out that I'm a combination of "Sunshine Yellow" and "Earth Green," with the emphasis on the yellow. In other words, I'm the best. Really, did I need a personality test to tell me this? :)

Last night Casey and I went to dinner with a lovely couple I met through a friend of dad's. They took us too a very cool restaurant in El Borne, which is a newly-fashionable neighborhood not too far from mine. They are both dermatologists, so I'll know where to go if the MBA ruins my fabulous complexion.

So far today, we've been working solely on CVs. It's hard to work on a CV all day long! No wonder I've never tried it before... and never will again. We have been divided into small work groups for the afternoon (and we all met yesterday during the personality test thing) and all but one other person is Spanish. It's kind of fun to actually be helpful for a change, even if it's just for my translation abilities!

Casey has to return to NYC Thursday morning in order to take some meetings for a movie. I was really expecting to have him here till Monday so it's definitely a bummer, but at least I know he'll be back very soon.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Casey arrived on Wednesday, safe and sound, but I was in class all day so I didn't get to see him until around 6pm. I skipped the last hour of Spanish class (because one of the other students was doing a "presenation" on wine... aka a wine tasting) and took the metro down to Placa Catalunya to meet him at his hotel. We wandered around La Rambla and had dinner nearby. And then I had to read accounting! Ugh.

Thursday was class as usual, and after school Casey and I had dinner with his cousin Catherine, who happened to be in town on business. We went to La Flauta, which had been highly recommended by George, and now I want to eat there every night. The food was fantastic! After dinner I had a phenomenal time preparing some accounting problems for yesterday's class, while all the other IESE students were at the Bar of the Week getting hammered. Even though I didn't really enjoy doing accounting homework and probably would've preferred the BOW, in the end I felt better having stayed home and studied. And I was able to answer questions in class yesterday. What a relief.

Yesterday was the start of the Festival de la Merce, which is a massive 3-day party in Barcelona. The whole city was closed yesterday, but we still had to go to class. The buses weren't running, but fortunately a nice IESE student picked me up as I was walking up the hill to school. Good thing, because my bag was HEAVY. Class yesterday was rather uneventful... the most annoying thing was that, even though we had to be there, a lot of the administrators and service people didn't. So the cafe closed early (and also didn't serve normal lunch, just ham and cheese sandwiches) and the library wasn't even open. Nor the computer rooms. Very frustrating.

Anyway, we were all just happy to be done with such a hard week. Casey and I went to dinner downtown and then wandered around for a while among the sea of people, checking out concerts and contemplating meeting up with my friends. Around midnight I was too tired to even walk anymore, so I crashed out. Tonight the festivities will continue, so there will be plenty more to see and do.

Today Casey and I went to Park Guell and took some photos. The weather is strange today... sometimes really sunny and then suddenly overcast. Right now it's... both. Weird. Tomorrow we're going to walk up to Tibidabo and also maybe check out the Sagrada Familia.

Back to accounting for now. I didn't even go to soccer today! Here are some photos from Park Guell:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bank Cards and Middle Names - A Study

I finally got my ATM card from La Caixa (my Spanish bank) this morning, three weeks after I was supposed to receive it! They promised to call me when it arrived, but I never received a call, so this morning I just decided to go over there first thing. The guy told me he had the card, but said I had to wait for a little while... I'm not really sure why.

Finally he came back with the magic box that I've seen so many times, full of ATM cards, none of them mine. This time I knew it would be different. He asked me my last name ("apellido") so I said, "Sadler, con S-A-D..." He went through the S's. Nothing. One more try, still no Sadler.

In a sudden (and none-too-soon) moment of clarity, I understood the confusion. I asked him to look under "Robins." And there it was. Maybe it had been there all along!?

My middle name has caused me trouble since I arrived. People don't know what to do with it. It's not part of my first name (many Spaniards have first names like Juan Carlos or Maria Isabel) and it doesn't look like a first name... But I tell them it's not my last name either, and I feel like sometimes I can see the smoke coming out of their ears as they try to figure out what to do with it. At IESE everyone thought my name was Noellerobins until I finally just had to ask them to change my name. Maybe I should've asked them to change it to the name of someone who is very good at math....

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hell, Day 2

Still rather freaked out about accounting and math. Everyone is very reassuring and very kind in their offers to help me, but I think I might be beyond salvation. If I'm already lost after 2 days (actually I was lost before we started, but who's counting) I think there's no hope.

But I'll still do my homework tonight. Or try to, anyway.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Reality Sets In (aka Deep Mierda)

Well, it has been really nice being here in Barcelona for a month, and I'm really going to miss it when I fail out of school and have to leave.

Today was the first day of precourses. My schedule was as follows (and will be the same for the rest of the week):

9:45-12:30 - Introductory Accounting
1:00-2:00 - Lunch
2:00-3:15 - Basic Quantitative Methods (aka math review... though I hadn't seen a lot of this stuff before)
3:30 - 6:15 - Spanish

Accounting went okay. I had read everything and done the problems I was supposed to have prepared in advance. I followed what was going on in class. Lunch was short... our accounting professor really likes to talk and class was half an hour longer than scheduled.

After lunch, we had this math review course. As I said, I hadn't seen some of the material before (I never had to do Calculus, and I haven't taken math since I was 16) so when people started walking out because it was too easy I felt dumb. But I was also glad that so many people stayed behind. Unfortunately, the professor just wizzed through everything and I started to feel a knot growing in my chest. By the time class was over, I thought I might throw up. And I still had to sit through two hours of Spanish.

I have been trying to read the 4th chapter of my accounting book (we had to read 3 chapters before the first class) tonight and I just can't figure it out. Why is something called a "debit" when you are gaining assets and a "credit" when you're losing them? This makes no sense. And here I thought I'd at least have an advantage because I understand the English language. Clearly I was mistaken!

To everyone in the States... if you have missed me, fear not. I will be back sooner than you think.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


I got the highest grade in the class on my Spanish test! I'd better enjoy this while it lasts because once the real classes start, I think I'll be the person at the bottom of the curve helping everyone else out.

It has been raining since last night around 10pm, but supposedly it will clear up after today. Soccer is still on for 5pm, but we'll see who actually shows up if it's still raining in 4 hours.

I have to run errands now while the stores are still open (nothing is open here on Sundays, and very few places are open Saturday afternoons, which makes going to class on Saturday even more unreasonable) and I think I also have to go to the police station because my friend Kathy had her wallet stolen on the bus last night and needs a translator. Always an adventure here in Spain.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hot dates!

Wednesday night I had a really hot date:

I think I did a little better last night!

Last night, IESE organized a small concert for any 1st year students who were interested. It was at the Cercle del Liceu, which is a private opera club that is apparently very exclusive. I figured this would be my only chance to get in there, so I jumped at the opportunity. We had to be in evening wear, so everyone raced home from class at 6:15 to change and head down to La Rambla by 8pm. The concert only lasted about half an hour (a string quartet of young musicians played pieces by Mozart, Haydn, and Casals) which was a little disappointing. In fact, when it was over, we weren't sure if it was just a break between pieces or if we had seen the whole recital.

The usual Thursday night Bar of the Week event was also scheduled, but the bar didn't open until 10, so a group of us had tapas in Placa Real. The new director of Career Services happened to be with us, and picked up the tab! I should hang out around Career Services more often... if only for free food. Getting a job really isn't on my to-do list at the moment.

Around 10:30 we all went to the bar, Cafe Royal, which was empty. I think it started to get busy around 1am. It was a blast to be out in suits and dresses, mingling with people in jeans and t-shirts. The music was hilarious (40s-esque lounge style music) and it wasn't long before everyone was dancing. It's not very often that you can go from the snootiest place in Barcelona to a rocking club in the same evening, and it was well worth missing a little sleep!

Today we had our second spanish test. We'll get our results tomorrow morning, but we all know we passed because we moved onto the next module (8!) before we even took the test.

Tomorrow's plan: Spanish class from 9:45 to 12:30. Shopping for some school supplies (and.... clothes... which I also consider "school supplies") . Some fun fun fun accounting reading. Soccer from 5-7pm. And then dancing, of course!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

R-O-L-A-I-D-S isn't the only way to spell relief

Another way is... MY PRESENTATION IS OVER!

Yes, now I can relax and rest easy. I did my presentation on the strange American perception that video games cause violence. I think I spoke for about 20 minutes, or maybe more, and then got the rest of the class involved, which was part of the assignment but also part of my plan when choosing a topic. I figured it would be one on which everyone would have an opinion, and I was right. I'm just glad it's done because now I can go back to doing other work without having it lurking in the back of my mind.

The weather is gorgeous today, but I wasn't outside much because I reviewed my presentation outline with my teacher at lunch. Hopefully it'll hold up for the rest of the week... and the weekend!

Presentations Galore

Last night, His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew, the Minister Mentor of Singapore, spoke about the role of Singapore in the Asian boom. The presentation was very dry until the end, when he answered questions from the audience and we could actually get a feel for his personality and his philosophies.

Another downpour started out of nowhere around 4pm yesterday and of course I was wearning flip flops. I have almost broken my butt many times, wearing those things in the rain or even just on wet pavement. The most dangerous areas for me are the fancy slippery tiles that the Spanish seem to be so fond of, and also the white painted crosswalk markings. Que peligroso! So I had to walk home clinging to George's arm and STILL slipped twice! Of course, I think it was partly because he was distracting me by asking me why girls don't fall in only 2 directions, like boys do. He said that, if a boy falls, he only falls either forward or backward, while girls seem to fall at strange angles. Right about then, my left foot slipped out at about a 90 degree angle and George said, "SEE?!?! How does this happen?!" I then asked George if he's this funny in Italian and he said that since his English is so bad, we are really only seeing half of his potential. Amazing.

Today I have to give my presentation in Spanish class. I'm talking about violence and video games. Easy, right? No. I've had to look up the most ridiculous things, like "Dutch codebreaker." I should've talked about cheese or something.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


For those of you who read this and think I don´t study or do any work, I would like to clarify. I am in Spanish class for 8 hours per day and I study every night! I promise!

And that is the last I will say about studying. For now.

Thank you.

(There. Are you happy now Mom?)


Monday, September 12, 2005

As promised, race day photos!


And after! ...

Man, word travels fast at IESE! This morning everyone was congratulating me on my excellent race finish. I'd better make sure I only do fantastic things, and nothing embarrassing. Sheesh!

Today we found out which sections we will be in for the first year. The first year students are divided into 2 English-speaking sections (A and B) and one Spanish-speaking section (C) and I'm in A. A for awesome. It'll be weird to only see certain students in all my classes, but I guess that's the way it goes. After I finish my Spanish course and pass the final exam (which, on my current course plan, will be in June), I will be eligible to take classes in the Spanish section. In order to get the Bilingual MBA (as opposed to a regular old boring MBA) I will have to take at least 2 courses in Spanish. So I'd better practice. Like right now.

Soy el spanish master!

We got our Spanish test results on Saturday morning, and I got 93%! Woo hoo! Our whole group did well enough to go on to the next level, which we started immediately after receiving our test results.

After class we played soccer for a couple of hours, which will hopefully be a weekly occurrance. This week we had 35 players, rather than 28, so we had 5 teams and had to rotate in and out. I think most of us didn't mind a little rest from time to time. I meant to take a nap after soccer on Saturday, but I just didn't seem to be able to make it happen. I studied for a little while and next thing I knew, people were over at our house and we were having a barbecue on the roof. From there, we went to Marco's second home, Danzatoria, and I don't think anyone was expecting the night we ended up having.

Not only were there dozens of IESE students there, no one could stop dancing. Usually people split off or go outside for a while, or get bored of dancing and sit down. But Saturday night was nonstop. We stayed at Danzatoria until it closed at 3am (at which time I really should have gone home to bed) and then walked up the hill to Mirablau, which stays open until 8 in the morning. Good thing I had my flip flops stashed in my bag, because walking up a steep hill in heels is no way to travel. At Mirablau (with heels back on of course!) the dancing continued, and we found out that one student, Benjamin from France, only APPEARS to be dorky. In reality he is lord of the dancefloor and was flinging and twirling girls around, while we all could only look on, open-mouthed, and clap and dance around him. I'll have to get a video of it next time, because I'm still not sure I believe it really happened.

I finally forced myself to go home around 5:30, but I couldn't find a cab, so I walked from Mirablau (at the top of Tibidabo) all the way home. The flip flops really got a workout Saturday night. George caught up with me on the last block, having taken a cab 1/2 an hour after Ieft. I fell asleep at 6am, and seemingly 1 second later, at 7:30, my alarm went off and I had to get up. Threw on my running clothes and met Edi on the corner and next thing I knew, I was sleeping in the passenger seat while we drove to a 5K race. I was very grumpy with myself for having agreed to do this race, but I really couldn't get out of it since I'd finked out last weekend. Another student, Ian, took photos of me zonked out in the car, which I'll have to get a hold of and post.

We arrived at the race about 45 minutes later and Edi said, "Noelle do you want to stay here and sleep or come and race?" and I grumpily said I'd race. Hmph. There were a handful of IESE students there, and Edi's friends from the last race, Pedro and Maria, and everyone was very entertained by my exhaustion as we sat in a little cafe and waited for the race to start. I thought it started at 9, but it didn't start till 10:30 (!!!!) so I could've slept at least another hour! Darn Edi and his promptness. I gradually started to wake up as we all sat around and by 10:15 it was finally warm out (it was very cold when we arrived at the race site) and we started to get ready for the run.

As we waited for the gun to go off, Edi and I realized that I'd probably had more than enough exercise in the past 12 hours... from 2 hours of soccer, 6 hours of dancing, walking all the way home, and now a race. But next thing I knew we were running up a hill (yes, the course also had to be very HILLY - yuck) and I passed the next 22 minutes mostly thinking, "Only (blank) minutes left!" depending on how long I'd been running. I finished faster than I thought... I certainly didn't think I'd do 7 1/2 minute mile splits.

Half an hour after the race, the results were posted and, suprise of the weekend:

Third place! Hahahahaha.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

First exam

Yesterday we had our first Spanish exam. All the groups took it at the same time, at 5pm... when most people are the most sleepy. But it wasn't too difficult and I think I did just fine. I'll find out today, I guess.

After the test, IESE had a little welcome reception for us in the Chapel Garden, and no one knew where to find it. If they'd had it at Danzatoria we'd all know where to go, but no one had been to the chapel, let alone its garden. I might need to spend some time there when the going gets rough, praying to pass my exams. Maybe I should find out what the hours are...

Last night, Cary (from SF) and her roommate had a little party at their house. These get-togethers are funny because we spend so much time together that we mostly end up taking stupid photos and talking about the same silly things over and over again. You know you've had a fun night when you walk home taking more dumb photos.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fiesta Italiana

It has been raining (hard) for three days, but it's supposed to stop tomorrow. Apparently, the storm we had yesterday was strong enough in the southern part of the city to qualify as Barcelona's first-ever tornado. It certainly has been interesting. This morning when I came back from the gym and was getting ready for class, it was somehow pouring rain but also brilliantly sunny. Had I known I'd be doing my MBA in Hawaii I would have brought a surfboard.

We are almost done with our first week of class, and we are all taking our first Spanish test tomorrow at 5pm to determine whether we move on to the next level. Group 6 is very entertaining and we always have a great time talking and laughing in class, and our teacher is seems pleased that she doesn't have to push us to talk. In fact, it's quite the opposite... What else would you expect from a class with 2 Italian guys and a Belgian feminist. Caramba!

Last night, Federico cooked pasta for our entire group of 10. He lives with Jill (the Belgian femenist) and Mikael from Russia. Mikael is in Group 1 - aka Absolute Beginners - so there were a few people there from his class as well. Jill and Federico are like an old married couple, always picking on each other and giving each other a hard time... but with Italian and Flemish accents, which makes it all so much more fun for everyone else. We had a great time eating and chatting and I managed to be back home by midnight. Federico and Francis (from the UK) managed to go out to a club till 4 am... and still stay awake all day. Impressive.

Here are our lovely hosts, Jill and Federico:

And el magnifico grupo 6 from left to right: Federico (Italy), Jan-Erik (Norway), Jill (Belgium), yours truly, Robain (Netherlands), Francis (UK), Andreas (Switzerland), Matteo (Italy), Carol (Chicago), and Mikael from Grupo 1(Russia):

The only one missing from our photo is Ali from the UK, who had already made plans for the evening, unfortunately.

Tonight, of course, there is a party. It's the usual Thursday Bar of the Week (BOW) event, and this week it's at a place called Justin. But it starts at 11:30 so I'm torn between going out and going to bed early so I can swim in the morning. I have four hours to decide, so let the countdown (and studying) begin!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Exhausted already!

Last night we had a massive thunderstorm, unlike anything I've ever experienced. I woke up at 3:45 to the loudest thunder I've ever heard, and the brightest lightning. I couldn't fall back to sleep at first because I was wondering if my poor bicycle was getting wet on the terrace (the covered one, not the rooftop one) but I thought that I got up I'd never fall asleep again. Of course, I couldn't sleep anyway because I was thinking about the bike and anyway it was too noisy.

I finally got up an hour later to check on things and found Marco in the living room, brining in the clothes that had been hanging on the terrace. We're lucky we didn't lose anything. I brought my bike into the living room, but I still couldn't sleep until sometime after 5 I guess. George woke up too and tried to take photos of the lightning but said he was never able to capture it.

At 6:45 my alarm went off for swimming and it felt like I'd only been asleep for 2 minutes. Tonight I'll sleep well!

Turns out everyone at IESE (and probably everyone in Barcelona) was awake for at least an hour. I've never seen a storm last for so long. It was still going at 7:30 when I was walking back to the apartment from the gym, but it stopped just before we walked to school, fortunately.

Today was another long day of Spanish class, from 9:45 to 6:15, and now I have to do homework. There is a party going on at someone's house, but I can't be bothered. I'm too tired!

Monday, September 05, 2005

More Pictures

A few more pictures from the weekend...

Marco doing what he does best. And that's Huy, who is Vietnamese but grew up in Germany.

Gustavo from Brazil. This guy is a party all by himself!

And a photo from after Friday's soccer match. We played from 5-7 and it was SO HOT. I think it finally started to cool down around 7:30 or 8pm. And we played on really hard turf so everyone's feet were hurting, including mine. The field was way up on the mountain so we had a beautiful view of the city, but I was looking for the goal the whole time of course. :) That's Kyle from Vancouver.

First Day of Spanish!

Today was the first day of Spanish class. I ended up in Group 6 (of 10), which is lower than I'd expected, but I figured it would be nice to have a review. My teacher is really nice, though I feel like I could definitely be in a higher group. However, I've heard that the teachers in the groups above mine aren't so great, so I think I'm happy to stick it out where I am.

My class has 10 people, including 4 women, which is unusual since the whole MBA program is apparently only about 20-25% female. We had another American, Carol from Chicago, Ali from London, and Jill from Belgium. Plus Federico and Matteo from Italy, Jan Erik from Norway, Francis from London, and Romain from the Netherlands. A very entertaining group.

We had a little intro session from 9:45 to 11 and then went straight into Spanish basically until 6:15, with a break for lunch at 1. We were all so exhausted at the end of the day! Actually, we were all so exhausted by lunch! And this is nothing compared to what is to come in October. God help me.

I finally got some photos from the party we had Saturday, so here they are. And no, our elevator still isn't fixed! They said hopefully they'd have it resolved by tomorrow morning. Whoops.

Here, Edi and I show off some of the beer we bought!

Marco and George prepared a fantastic tomato salad:

One student, Roy, has brought his wife and new baby with him from the US. His baby, Sophia, was thrilled to be hanging out with everyone:

Here I am with Alex and his girlfriend Natalia, who also helped a ton with the party setup:

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Last Day Before School!!!

Today my body decided for me. It was a day of rest. And cleaning.

Yesterday afternoon we all went to an enormous supermarket and bought supplies for the party. We had three carts full of groceries - mostly soda, juice, beer, paper plates, etc. - 5 people, and 2 cars. We had all hoped to have a nap before the festivities began, but it wasn't to be. Once we got everything into the house, we started setting up for the party. The first guest arrived promptly at 9, and the party didn't end till we had to kick everyone out just before 3am. We had notified our neighbors about the party, and invited them, and we actually got to meet our next door neighbors as we were preparing everything around 7. We figure around 80 people came, but there may have been more.... we didn't really try to keep track!

Everything went well until the very end when someone thought it would be a good idea to fit 7 people in a 4-person elevator. It got stuck between floors and the people inside forced the doors open and somehow climbed out. Unfortunately, in doing so, they broke the elevator completely. We had to call the company this morning and they sent someone over who apparently couldn't fix it alone, so two guys are coming tomorrow. Hopefully we won't have to replace any parts. Aside from that, it was a great party and everyone seemed to have had a great time. I'll have pictures up later. They're all on Marco's camera.

I didn't run my 10K this morning. I woke up at 8:00 to drilling in the street, again (I can't believe they work on Sunday mornings!) and tried to go back to sleep but finally just dragged myself out of bed around 9. I didn't really want to be cleaning the terrace in the heat of the day, so I just got started right way. Marco got up a little while later and pitched in, and then Alex and Natalia, so it wasn't too bad by the end. George woke up just as we'd all finished, so he got stuck cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen floor.

It was too hot to go out during the day today, so I stayed in and studied some Spanish and tried to get organized for tomorrow. I got my Spanish results, and didn't get placed where I thought I would. It's very strange, because there are people in the group right above me who are completely freaked out over being placed so high.... Anyway, I'm in group 6 (of 10), and it's probably a good thing because I can always use a review.

This evening I finally took my bike out for a spin. It's making some funky noises so I'll have to take it to a shop at some point for a once-over, but it was great to finally get out and ride. I went up the hill past IESE, which is STEEP, and then got to enjoy the breeze on the way back down. I'll need to find some other riders to show me the good routes to take around town.

Tomorrow is the first day of Spanish class. We start at 9:45 with an intro and welcome thing for an hour or so and then we start our actual classes at 11:15. After that, we'll be in Spanish class from 9:45-6:15 Monday thru Friday and 9:45 to 2pm on Saturdays until Sept 17th, which is when we'll also add our pre-courses in finance and god knows what else. I shudder to think!

Now I'm still sweaty and gross from riding so I'd better take a shower. Party photos still to come!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Busy day!

First of all, I went to the bank AGAIN yesterday (4th time) to try to get my ATM card but it's still not ready and they don't know when it will be. Finally I just gave the lady my phone number and asked her to call me when it arrives. Marco said to took 3 weeks to get his. Awesome!

Yesterday morning Marco woke George and me up at 6:45 and we went to the gym to swim. Good thing, because when my alarm went off before he knocked on my door, I just felt like going back to sleep. But I would've felt like a sucker if I'd skipped out on swimming. I'm lucky that my roommates are active because we will keep each other motivated to stay in shape, even after classes start. Marco has decided that, like me, he wants to train for a triathlon, so he's going to buy a used road bike. I'm going to buy a second bike also, but a crappy one for riding around town since I can't lock up my road bike without losing all the parts to thieves.

After the gym, we went to the school and took our Spanish exam. We had a little intro and then we were broken into two big groups. My goup took the grammar test first, then had the oral exam. The grammar test was 90 questions on the computer and quite difficult. I think toward the end it got to areas I was never very good at in the first place, even in high school, but I'm sure I did well enough to be put into a decent level. Plus, the computer room was absolutely freezing and everyone was trying to warm up their hands. It's really hot in Barcelona right now and we were all warm from walking up the hill to school, so we wouldn't have been complaining if it wasn't exceptionally cold! Then I had my oral exam, for which I was in a smaller group of 5, and everyone was SO GOOD at Spanish. I the the groups may have been based on the little mini proficiency exam we did during the summer.... we had two people who were basically fluent, and then three (including me) who were decent and could contribute to the conversation. We were given a case and 2 problems to discuss... business stuff, so I'm sure I would've done much better had it been any other subject! Oh well, I'll find out how I did on Monday morning. At least my accent sounds good, though it's obvious I didn't learn Spanish in Spain!

After the test, Alex, George, Marco and I went to the sporting goods store to buy a soccer ball. I had to buy some turf shoes because I left mine in NYC and Marco had to find socks and shorts that would coordinate with his blue Italian jersey. At 5, a huge group of students went to a big recreation area way up the mountain for a soccer match. Since there were 28 of us, we split into teams of 7 and played 2 matches simultaneously going across the field. Despite being excruciatingly hot, it was really fun. It's great that my classmates are all very sporty and active. It's a perfect environment for me. (Mom - insert "I told you so" here.) Granted, I'm saying all of this before classes actually start. We'll see how I fare with microeconomics and the like!

After 2 hours of soccer, we all came home to get ready for the big BOW (bar of the week) party at Mirablau, which is a bar and disco at the top of Tibidabo. These are organized by 2nd year students and usually happen on Thursdays, but it was Friday this week because we had our test yesterday morning. Around 1am we got bored with Mirablau and decided to go down the hill to Danzatoria. Marco said, "I think there's a shortcut" and pointed to a little dirt path leading down the (very steep!) hill. Good thing I had my flip flops in my handbag, because we went down a windiing dirt road with rocks and tree roots in the dark. Fortunately, George was right in front of me, so anytime I saw him trip, I knew to be careful. Ha. Of course, Marco was right and we ended up right in front of Danzatoria (never argue with Marco about Danzatoria) and so I changed back to my heels and we rolled into the club. Unfortunately, I started losing my voice very early on last night, so I couldn't stay out for long. Especially knowing that a whole weekend still lies ahead!

Today we are going shopping for everything we'll need for tonight's barbecue party. I've put myself in charge of the music, since I'm pretty useless in the kitchen... I leave that to Marco. We are expecting anywhere from 60-120 people, so it should be a fun night! Good thing we had the smaller party (which got much bigger than expected) before Nicole left, because we figured out what we need to do for this one. PAPER PLATES. Among other things.

Tomorrow morning I'm supposedly running a 10K race at 10am.... ?!

And finally, George has been really curious about my peanut butter lately. He really wanted to try it and yesterday he finally did. I wasn't sure if he actually liked it, but he kept eating it, so I guess he must have! If it's all gone from my cupboard, I'll know what happened.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A day for studying

Yesterday I was pretty boring. After taking Nicole to the airport, I just came back to the house and studied Spanish most of the day. It didn't help that my stomach was upset (and still is, a bit) and that my throat was hurting. Too many late nights in loud places I guess.

Tomorrow I have to be at the school at 9am for my Spanish proficiency exam. Apparently, it's very quick - a 10 minute written test and a 5 minute oral one - but we've been told we will all be there until about 1pm. And on Monday, Spanish classes begin. I have heard there will be 10 sections based on fluency, and that you can jump to a higher section if you progress quickly. The top section (#10) has the option of taking the official proficiency exam at the end of the month. If you pass that, you don't have to take any more Spanish and you can get your bilingual degree. Otherwise, you have to take Spanish throughout the first year and THEN take your proficiency exam if you want the bilingual degree. I'm pretty rusty on my grammar so I'm sure I'll test somewhere in the middle, which I don't mind because I like language classes.

I just went to the bank to pick up my ATM card and they said to come back tomorrow. I think I've now been at the bank setting up my account as many times as I was at the Consulate trying to get my visa!

Here are some photos from the top of Tibidabo, where Nicole and I went on Tuesday morning. We walked all the way to the tram station near the top, and then took the tram (called the Funicular) to the very top and had these beautiful views of all of Barcelona.

And of course, one final George picture... from our party Tuesday night.