Monday, February 27, 2006

Ode To My Sister

Nicole flew back to New York yesterday morning and couldn't have chosen a better moment to escape Barcelona. On Saturday it was sunny and we had a barbecue on the roof. Yesterday it rained all day. Of course, today it was sunny again and it would have been nice if she'd been around when I got back from school. It has been nice to get some outside perspective on the IESE experience and just how intense it is. Sometimes I think I'm going crazy, but actually the situation is kind of crazy.

And so, Nicole, I salute you:
1. You single-handedly changed the IESE male-to-female ratio from 80/20 to 79.5/20.5. Bravo!
2. You left me some leftovers! Sweet!
3. You read like six books in a single week. Impressive.
4. You got rolled buying some tulips. But hey, it was worth it. They're still alive and brightening my room one week later.
5. Your many IESE admirers miss you already, and so do I.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ahhh... Spain!

Two little stories from the week:

On Monday Nicole bought me a bouquet of tulips, which are now sitting in a vase on my desk. When she bought them the flower vendor told her, in Spanish of course, "Usually these are 6 euro, but for you, just 5. A little gift." She was pleased with her discount. The next day she walked by the flower stand and saw tags hanging from all the bouquets that read "5 euro." She's pretty burned up.

Last night, Nicole and I went to dinner with my doctor friends Lali and Jose. The took us to a cool restaurant in El Born, which felt just like a restaurant you'd find in Manhattan. On the way home from dinner we drove through L'Eixample, and Jose and I both said "Gayxemple" at the same time. L'Eixemple has become the Chelsea (NYC, not London) of Barcelona. Then Jose said, "Spain did the nicest thing for gay people. They can get married here. We are a country of extremes. 200 years ago we burned them!"

Oh, and in Sporting News:
The Pablo Royo Superstars lost tonight. Again. Hmph.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

And..... we're blogging

A poem, by Alexandre (recited, and invented, on the chairlift):

Zee sky ees blue
Zee mountain ees white
I am 'appy!

Yes, this was the sentiment that rang throughout our Andorran adventure weekend. Two hundred "APPY" people exhausting themselves in the mountains after exhausting themselves over midterms.

Most people took the bus, but Nicole and I had our private chauffeur, Marc:

Barcelona was a balmy 70 degrees and sunny as we left, and it was hard to believe we were headed for snow, but we were "appy!" Nicole was excited just to be awake after flying overnight from NYC to Barcelona via Amsterdam:

En route, we encountered some "traffic":

And then some ominous clouds... woo hoo SNOW!:

After arriving, we rented skis, ate dinner, and partied it up in the hotel bar. Saturday we hit the slopes. It was sunny and beautiful and a few people managed to get sunburned.

By 6pm on Saturday Nicole and I couldn't stand up any longer and were forced to nap until 9. After dinner, however, we were ready for the evening's festivities.

George boogies:

Nicole and Ian:

Let's get this party started:

Ian's Angels:

Dancing with Alexandre the poet himself:

We danced, danced, danced the night away:

Cooling our jets outside. That's Tom from the UK:

Oh and did I mention we went to the mountains and it snowed?

And that we did in fact ski? (Though this photo isn't actually proof.)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Andorra Here I Come!

3 good things:

1. Midterms are over! Operations seemed okay today, but no matter how I did, I'm just happy the week is over.

2. Nicole is here! She's sleeping right now, but it's still nice that she's here. And for a whole week! And just in time for...

3. Andorra! We're leaving in about an hour. And then it's two days of skiing and laughing and eating and drinking. I'm on the planning committee, and now we finally get to enjoy the fruits of our labors.

I promise to return with tall tales (hopefully not about massive wipeouts) and plenty of photos of purple-suited PABLO ROYO!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

66.66666666666667% complete

Two exams down and one to go. A wrap-up:

Woke up this morning and reviewed some more accounting and operational finance. I'm not sure if it did me any good (actually, I think it didn't) but what else was I going to do before the exams this morning? Had some breakfast, biked to school as usual.

Our Operational Finance exam started at precisely 9:30. I started with the questions on the last two pages, which weren't related to the case. This turned out to be a good idea because they were theoretical rather than case-based and I wouldn't have wanted to have tried to get through them all in the last few minutes of the exam. I did the case-based part second. The case was about a perfume company and it was confusing. I've never managed to finish one of these things properly, despite my best efforts, and today was no exception. My balance sheet wouldn't balance. People laughed when I said this, because that's the stupidest thing in the world, but that's the story of my life. My balance sheet just won't balance. I'm not sure what this means for my future...

After lunch I tried to review a bit more accounting, but it was pointless and at 2pm the exam began. I must've done something wrong because I thought it was kind of easy and everyone else came out saying it was the worst exam ever. I clearly missed something, but at least it felt nice at the time because I wasn't frustrated. I've decided I'd rather be dumb and not realize it than knowingly frustrated. I don't know what this means for my future either...

Now it's 5:30 and I've been home relaxing for about half an hour. It's a beautiful day out so I think I'll go running in a little while. And before that (and afterward) I'll review for tomorrow's Operations exam. PAAAAAAR-TAY!

Doomsday Prophecy

In life there are things that really matter and there are things that seem to matter a whole helluva lot.... at the time. In the grand scheme of things, the midterms that are looming are really nothing. They are just another hurdle in my race to the weekend. A more annoying hurdle than the regular ones (ie - classes) but just a hurdle nonetheless.

And assuming I don't land on the hurdle while jumping over it - this hurts, I know from experience - I should be fine. I have contemplated running AROUND the hurdle, but in most races this leads to disqualification because you end up in someone else's lane.

So I guess I'm stuck with my three hurdles.

Hurdle 1: 9:30am. T-minus 9hrs 16 min.: OPERATIONAL FINANCE FINAL
Hmmm. I thought I was okay at this until I did some practice exams over the weekend. Hit a wall, but have brushed myself off and carried on. Only time will tell.

Hurdle 2: 2pm. T-minus 13hrs, 46min.: MANAGERIAL ACCOUNTING
Okay so I've done all the cases, understood everything in class, and read (nearly) all the readings. So why is this such a black hole? 'C' marks the spot. Moving on.

Hurdle 3: 9:30am Friday. T-minus 33hrs 16min: OPERATIONS MANAGMENT
I know someone will call me a nerd (and I don't blame them) but I actually kinda like this stuff. It's like a puzzle and all you have to do is know how to count. That is AWESOME. And yet, I'm still lost. But starting to see the light.... Here's hoping I'm not one of the "lostest" 7.

Hmmm doesn't seem so bad now. Of course, that won't stop the sheer panic when I wake up tomorrow. Ah well, such is life. Good luck, everyone!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Countdown to ski trip

It's the most beautiful day of 2006 - warm and sunny - and I am in the basement. Room F-101, where I have been since 9:30 this morning practically without pause. We didn't have a team meeting this morning, so I came straight here to the basement room and sat through (ok, participated in) Human Resources and Marketing.

At lunch I managed to escape to the sunshine for a few minutes to get a sandwich from the cafe (which is also in the basement, but in a different building - thus, 2 minutes of sunshine) and then stood outside until I felt overcome by guilt over not studying constantly and ran back to my basement hovel. I tried to review managerial accounting. I guess I managed, mas o menos.

Then we had accounting class and now it's just after 5pm and I've just finished reading and preparing tomorrow's HR case. Now I'll prepare marketing for tomorrow and then at 6:30 there's another Operations review session for Section C, which I'm hoping to crash. All in all, a tremendously exciting day. At least I have a jog to look forward to after the review session.

And there's another thing to look forward to. Two, actually! First, my sister Nicole arrives back in BCN on Friday, just as I'm finishing my last midterm. She'll be here for a week, and during the perfect time... just after midterms, when we can all actually relax a bit.

She is also arriving just in time for the other event I'm looking forward to - the IESE ski trip, which I've been helping to organize. 205 IESE-ians and IESE partners (and sisters!) will be heading up to Andorra for a weekend of skiing and, more importantly, apres-ski. Ahh, no classes, no basements, no cases. Just snow and jacuzzis and friends and beer. Deeeeee-licious! Only 3 more days!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Saving Grace

As midterms approach, I find myself getting more stressed out with each passing day. Which is really quite silly because... well, what's the point? I can only learn so much and if what I was able to cram in my poor brain over the last 6 weeks turns out to be not enough to do well on an exam, then I guess I will have done the best I possibly could and that's that.

The stress builds over the course of each day, so that in the morning I wake up tired but optimistic that I'll get everything done and finish the day in a state of near-panic because I didn't finish everything and it is so late I'll get too little sleep. You'd think I would have learned to accept and expect this by now, but for some reason it's still slightly overwhelming.

Fortunately, I have a secret weapon. Running. Some days it feels like a procrastination technique, but in fact I always come back refreshed and able to do a lot more work than I would have had I tried to sit at my desk during the equivalent time and stare at a case. The other nice thing about running is that it's one of the few times of the day when I can be alone and just think and clear my head. Tonight my brain felt cluttered on my way home after a longer-than-usual day. But now that I'm back from a short run, I feel much better and ready to tackle some more work. Which is what I'd better do right now.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Section Gay Gets B!tchy!

Well I guess it's just that time of the term. Midterms are approaching next week. Everyone is stressed out and tired, and no one seems particularly motivated after working so hard in the first term. We have known each other for six months now and the honeymoon is over. People are starting to show their true colors.

And you know what? It's kinda funny.

Nearly every day someone gets frustrated in class and accidentally let's it slip without thinking first. These angry throwaway statements can ruffle some feathers, but they also remind us that we're all just human and we have a lot to learn. Anyway, it's nice to see I'm not the only one getting frustrated from time to time.

And so to pay homage to the Section A superstars, here is a group photo taken by Jan-Erik's girlfriend Nanna (who is not only a professional photographer but could also work in professional lost ski equipment rescue since she's one of the ones who helped me get reorganized after my little Andorran accident) for the yearbook on Monday.

George was in Milan for a second round consulting interview with BCG (which he GOT!!! woo hoo George!!!) and was distressed over not being in the photo. So Alex kindly included him:

Speaking of the yearbook, I have been asked to write an article about the 1st Year Experience at the 2005 Bar Crawl. I submitted it tonight. I have clearly fooled someone into thinking I can write. Or at least type fast.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Back by Popular Request

The blog is back on. After many wonderful personal emails and comments here (thank you to those who wrote!) I have decided it would be unfair to my fans to simply stop writing. In typical Noelle fashion, a single negative response to my last entry about being ridiculed was enough to provoke my reaction and ruin the fun for everyone, and for that I apologize. I'm learning. Bear with me.

The problem is that I can't say I have much exciting news to report. I spent most of this past week studying. Let's see... played rugby as usual Thursday, negotiated the purchase of some F-16s from the US on behalf of the Kingdom of Nari on Friday (the deal fell through - I don't like to be pressured when oil is on the line!), and our soccer team the Pabloy Royo superstars lost miserably that same afternoon. The teacher's assistant from Negotiations class was on the opposing team... I wonder if it's all linked somehow.

I spent Saturday reviewing Managerial Accounting and finally had to watch Wedding Crashers for the 4th time to wash away the bad "cash is king" thoughts with "let's crash weddings and get as much free food (among other things) as possible" thoughts. Sunday I went to the exciting world of Operations Management review. Wheeee!

Now it's Wednesday and, as usual, I'm tired. And sweaty. I just got back from soccer practice. I gave a Spanish presentation about American football and the Super Bowl today and we had a Spanish midterm as well. Our "real" midterms are next week. Well actually, two midterms (Operations and Accounting) and a final (Operational Finance). And I know no one wants to hear how many C's I'm going to get, so I won't mention the three of them, okay? I promise!

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Hey folks the blog is going on vacation for a while.

La Mierda Hits the Fan

Today I felt something that I haven't truly felt in several months now... a very strong desire to leave school. I am not enjoying my classes, I feel stupid 98% of the time (and the other 2% I'm in the bathroom), I'm exhausted and look like a zombie, and our section is growing more rude and insensitive by the day.

Every day is the same. I wake up, exhausted and puffy-eyed, drag myself into the shower (after wrestling with the water tank for a few minutes to get hot water), get dressed, review a case, bike to school. Then the morning meeting, three classes, Spanish three days a week, and straight into studying more cases. Each night a sense of dread grows from the pit of my stomach and gets bigger and bigger until I feel like I could throw up because I'm so stressed out about the possibility of getting cold-called in Operational Finance or Managerial Accounting the one time I'm even slightly unprepared.

This really doesn't feel worth it. I mean, I don't even know why I'm doing this. To live in another country? I could do that without putting myself through this torture. To learn how to start my own business? By the time I finish this (if I ever manage to) I don't think I'll ever want to work again. To make new friends? I had great ones before!

Today was particularly bad because the worst part of this experience for me is the feeling stupid part. I really feel dumb all the time. And the problem is that a majority of our grade in some classes (and at least a portion of it in ALL classes) is based on class participation. It's very difficult to participate when there is a good chance 75 people could shoot you down or go "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH" really loudly if they think you said something stupid. Seriously, these people are not nice. Something has happened this term and the comraderie and support that once existed has turned into rivalry and competition. No one is safe. I feel like never opening my mouth again.

This afternoon I was trying to work on the Operational Finance case and I misunderstood a number in a sentence. So my forecast for the sales growth of this stupid tire company was way off base. Someone came and looked over my shoulder (I was working alone, minding my own business) and asked how I was doing. I said, "Okay, I guess." He then looked at my calculation - I had only done one at that point - and started laughing at me. Then he told everyone else in the area how dumb I was for using the wrong number and everyone laughed. Hahaha! It's very funny! Laugh at the stupid idiot who has no idea how to do this crap!

Ahhh, Wednesday. I was tempted not to go to play soccer and to instead hole up in my room and try to keep working on the cases by myself. Instead my roommates consoled me (they are the highlight of my IESE experience) and convinced me to play soccer. I'm glad I did. It was the best part of what has been an otherwise shitty week. IS IT OVER YET?????