Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Les Bleus et Moi - Superheroes

Today started off very uneventfully. I got up, watered the plants on the terrace, responded to emails and booked flights for all my summer travels. Around 1:30 I finally ventured out for some shopping and then met Jill for a coffee near Placa Catalunya, which is currently overrun with tourists.

The table next to us was occupied by two older German couples who were decked out in the requisite tourist uniforms, complete with cameras dangling around necks. I was chatting away with Jill, absent-mindedly looking over her shoulder, when I saw another touristy looking guy hovering around. I thought nothing of it until I saw him reaching under the chair of one of the German ladies. He hooked his finger over the edge of her purse (never EVER leave your purse, wallet, phone, anything out of your sight for one second in Barcelona) and started to pull it slowly toward him, and my next thought was, That's weird - I don't think he knows them.

Then, before I really realized what I was doing, I was yelling "HEY HEY HEY HEY!" Jill turned and looked behind her and said, "What are you doing?!" He froze, stood up, and stepped back, leaving the purse where it was. A moment later he had the nerve to look at me and say, "Que?" and I answered in Spanish, "I saw everything, what do you mean?" Then he and the kid he was with sauntered off in search of their next victim. I then realized I had made quite a scene and looked around to find everyone on the terrace staring and pulling their belongings a little closer. Having been saved in the same way two years ago myself from a near robbery by a good samaritan, I was glad to finally be able to pass on the karma.

After that, the rest of the afternoon was pretty low-key. I said goodbye to Jill, who heads off for her internship tomorrow, went home, and watched the Brazil/Ghana match. Then Paul cooked a paella (having excellent cooks as roommates is a key to good living) and it was time to watch France v. Spain. Hoping for a good night's sleep tonight, I opted to cheer for France. I always cheer for the underdog, and tonight was no exception. Spain has cruised through the World Cup so far, and France has barely squeaked by. More importantly though, I just wanted to see a good match. I've been pretty disappointed by the last few... verrrrry BOOOORING. Well, France shockingly delivered, and now Barcelona is silent (no honking horns, no firecrackers, no screaming hooligans) and I can get my beauty rest.

The agenda for tomorrow? More shopping, a bit of climbing in Montjuic, saving a few damsels in distress, and oh, I don't know, some dinner.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I went to the doctor today to find out why I've been sick for two and a half weeks. She basically told me I have every possible above-the-neck -itis besides gingivitis and conjunctivitis. When she was rattling off the list, I felt like Forrest Gump when Bubba is talking about all the ways you can prepare shrimp. Sinusitis, laryngitis, bronchitis... Geez.

So now I have 12 days' worth of antibiotics to choke down (no, only 11 more left! woo hoo!) and not much else to show for all my fancy sicknesses.

These days in Spain are long, but they seem to pass faster than ever. It seems like one minute I'm deciding what to have for breakfast and the next thing I know, I've missed it because it's lunchtime. Then somehow it's 5pm and there's a soccer match on, and then only a couple hours later there's another one. Before I know it, I'll be sitting in Vlad's apartment in Bucharest wondering where the heck the beach went and why there are so many three-legged dogs hobbling around. So I guess I'd better really make the most of these last four (FOUR! oh no!) days in Barcelona before work (WORK! oh no!) starts.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

One week later...

... and I think I'm still recovering from the first year.

I spent the last night of the third term almost exactly the same way as the last night of the first term - dancing all night, getting home late to finish packing, taking a shower, and heading to the airport to fly to New York. What better way to celebrate the end of exams?

I can't say New York was a breath of fresh air. At least not in the literal sense. It was hot and humid, more so than usual for mid-June, but it was still great to be back and see old friends and get away from all that is IESE for a little while. It would have been nice to relax in Barcelona as well, but that's what this week is for. Anyway, I checked out my sister's new house in Philadelphia (very cool), saw many old friends, wasn't able to see many others (sorry! I'll be there again in September!), ate at my favorite restaurants, and deeply inhaled that special New York summer subway smell. Mmmmmmmm!

Unfortunately I got sick a week before finals and continued to be sick until, I think, this afternoon, when I rode to the other side of Tibidabo just because I can. The air is different over there, seriously, and I think my two-and-a-half-week-cold is finally dissipating. We'll see if that's still true in the morning.

Since returning to Barcelona Thursday morning, I've had a strange mix of emotions. It's wonderful to be here, but it's really strange to not have anything to do. I mean, I don't have to be anywhere at any time, I have no homework to do, no classes to attend, no exams to worry about. I know I should appreciate this, but sometimes it's just plain weird. Not to worry, I'm getting used to my life of luxury. I have been on the terrace every morning, working on my sunburn, and out to dinner every night. And don't forget the World Cup matches! Today, for instance, I cheered with the Germans and tonight I cried for the Californians. I mean, Mexicans. Though I had to do it secretly because I was surrounded by Argentinians.

And what does tomorrow bring? Hmmm, I guess that would be more terrace lounging, more beach going, more bicycle riding, and more football watching. Sounds like an awful existence!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

That's all, folks!


This is truly the last day of the first year. While Sections B and C were sleeping off their hangovers this morning, the tried and true members of Section A (minus those who already had to start their banking internships - SUCKERS!) were forecasting like mad. We had one hour for three questions, and I answered exactly half. Much better than I would have done just 24 hours ago, so I'm happy.

Section A (or half of us, anyway) after the exam:

Now I'm sitting in my room at my computer by force of habit. But tomorrow I'm off to New York for a few days, so I should probably pack something. We're having one last A6 gathering today for lunch in a few minutes, and tonight a big party at Otto Zutz. I have a feeling tonight will be similar to the night of the Christmas Ball in December, when I just stayed up all night and slept on the plane. I'll still get 8 hours!

Guys guys guys: It has been a wild year, and I'm glad I was along for the ride with all of you. I'm really going to miss the people who are going on exchange, but we will welcome you back in December with - what else?! - a big fat party! Anyone who wants to visit Romania this summer you have an open invitation, and for those of you in the States who haven't yet visited me in Barcelona... WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!!?!

Last night of the 1st Year

Tonight is the last night that I have to worry about exams, cases, studying, failing, getting up early.... Because tomorrow we in section A take our last final exam of the first year. Franz has promised us that it will be quick, though not painless, and suggested that we prepare by watching the Germany match tonight. Which is exactly what I did, though it was far from relaxing, particularly since I was rooting for Poland.

But before that heaven-sent two hour period, I went through a rather hellish day, as most final exam days tend to be. I started early, at 6am, thinking I was late for class. Then realized, haha no class today! And THEN realized, no class?! That means exams!!! I slept a little longer and then finally dragged myself out of bed. I stared at our global econ one-page answer sheet (which should cover everything) while drying my hair and brushing my teeth. It was no use. I think I effectively failed the exam, which was about Iceland. I've never had so much trouble writing in my entire life. I couldn't put thoughts together and even worse, what random thoughts I did have, didn't flow nicely out of my pen as they usually do. It was a rather terrible three hours and I'm happy I don't ever have to relive them.

But, lucky me, after lunch we had our corporate finance exam! This is the one I was fully prepared to fail (unlike econ) because, try as I might, I just couldn't ever get this stuff right. I got through two out of five questions because we only had an hour and a half so at best I'll get 18 points. You never know... it could be a decent grade. Oh well, next!

And next up was something good. We watched the 2nd half of Spain's shutout of the Ukraine. It's a match I didn't need to watch because it wasn't very exciting, but it was better than the alternative - studying. Which I got around to soon afterward. Chris came by and helped me study for tomorrow's Quantitative Methods exam for three hours. I think I get it now... kind of. We'll see tomorrow morning!

The nice thing about this particular study session was that I was immediately rewarded with the Germany - Poland match, which was the best one of the World Cup so far. So now here I am, back at home, blood pressure still through the roof, ready to catch some Z's and hopefully pass tomorrow's test. Forecasting luck needed here at 9:30am, please!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Last day of Section A

It's a day I never thought I'd see... the last official day of classes, the last day of the first year, the last day with Section A. We started off this morning in the Wonderful World of Operations, where Prof. Sachon gave a nice review of the course and some advice to take through life. Next we had a wrap-up of Corporate Finance, which I'm surely going to fail. During class I actually felt like I might know what is going on - until I reviewed a bit with Chris and Marco tonight. I'm doomed.

After lunch came our final Quantitative Methods class. After a tutorial with Chris for five hours Saturday morning, I was feeling pretty confident about this one. Until this afternoon's review session. Complete confusion and utter chaos, but at least I have an extra day to prepare for this one, since the exam isn't until Thursday morning. Sections B and C were spared the exam and turned in a submission on Sunday about Formula 1 instead, the lucky dogs.

After that, Huy presented the COW (comment of the week) and the Comment of the Year, which was won handily by Jan-Erik. Then came a slideshow and some videos that made everyone sad and nostalgic... until we realized that we still had studying to do. Reality blows.

As does the scary IESE policy of ... The Final Exam. It states that if you get four Cs over the course of the year or 3 in any one term, you are reviewed by the academic commmittee and will probably have to take the big bad final exam a week after classes end. After most people have started internships, and definitely after you've forgotten everything you learned in the first term about T-accounts!

Anyway, I'm riding the road of 3 Cs this term because, try as I might (and I have really tried!), I just can't seem to get my head around corporate finance or quant. And every time I think I understand economics, I get confused and realize I have everything backward... or do I? Who knows...

So tomorrow we have our first two exams, and I'm dreading them both. Though I'm dreading the results much more! As usual, eyes on the prize: Thursday morning, 11am.

Two complaints

1. The US played like a high school soccer team yesterday against the Czech Republic. This is embarrassing, and no way to improve American interest in soccer. Sorry, futbol. Next up, Italy. Caramba.

2. Final exams are being held during the World Cup. So not only do we miss the Spain match because of the Corporate Finance exam, we are supposed to be studying somehow during all the other matches that have led up to this week! This means trying to keep one eye on a book and the other on a match, which is physically impossible. So I have found it's a better use of my time to just go watch in a bar with friends. Then at least I can focus on one thing at a time! Then I can study 100% afterward... oh but there are three matches per day.... hmmmm.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Last weekend and World Cup Fever

This final weekend together has passed in a blur. I spent the majority of it studying (or pretending to) and glorious hours here and there watching football. Yesterday Chris came over in the morning like my knight in shining armor to rescue me from quantitative methods. He spent several hours explaining to me all the things that I'm sure he understood perfectly when he was four. We worked from ten till three, when he moved on to a project with Marco and I stared at my economics notes for a while.

Last night George had booked a table for twelve of us at Thai Garden. We were all looking forward to it and even arrived early because there's an English pub next door where we were able to catch the first half of Argentina v. Cote d'Ivoire before our reservation. Unfortunately, we soon found out that George had managed to make a reservation at Thai Garden Madrid, not Barcelona. So Enrico went off with his wife Federica in search of an alternative while the rest of us stayed happily glued to the bigscreen.

We ended up having entrecot in a restaurant with Venice in the name... how surprising from Italians! Dinner was delish and half of us headed off to the end-of-year party at Ribelinos, though the idea of more studying today kept me from staying out too late. That and a head cold. I love those in the summer!

Today I managed to read an operations case on the roof, procrastinate a lot, watch bits and pieces of the French Open final and the Holland match, and finally read a bit of economics before heading to la Rosa Negra with the Mexicans to watch Mexico beat Iran 3-1. Venga! Granted, on Friday I was ambushed and forced to wear a German jersey and face paint, but today I wore the Mexican flag with pride. As a San Diegan, I consider myself Mexican, after all.

Unfortunately the IESE machine doesn't stop for the World Cup (though it should, and so should everything else, except the bars and tv stations!) so we still have final exams on Wednesday and Thursday. And next weekend, most of us will be gone!

Friday, June 09, 2006

What a day. What a week! WHAT A YEAR!

Whew... this was one of the busiest weeks of the year, and one of the toughest. We all really felt like we were back in the 1st term again, completely overwhelmed with work and concerned about failing classes. Well I'm concerned about failing classes... other people aren't concerned at all.

Anyway this week we had our big negotiation project for corporate finance, a massive group paper due tonight for operations strategy, our team projects for competitive strategy (Jan-Kees, Matteo and I were spared having to present in class), two submissions for quantitative methods, and the usual fun caseload. Oh and I took the DIEN today... the final Spanish exam. Nothing like a Spanish test to round out a week.

Fortunately we did get a bit of a respite today because quantitative methods was cancelled (it would have been at 9:30) because Franz went to Munich for the World Cup opener, the lucky dog. Thank goodness, because those of us who went to a Romania trip reunion dinner (at a Vietnamese restaurant - go figure) and then onto the BOW to see Alberto play the guitar were certainly appreciating the extra sleep this morning. We had econ at 11, and the case was about the increasing twin deficit in the US. At lunch Matteo and I took the spoken part of the Spanish test, and then did our final prep on our Blockbuster presentation in case we were chosen to go in front of the class. Immediately after strategy class he and I raced to another classroom to take the two-hour written portion of the DIEN.

We were under the gun because we had reserved seats with the German Business Club to watch the Germany/Costa Rica match at a beer garden on Diagonal. So we finished the test as quickly as possible and raced down the hill, arriving just in time to score seats and beers and watch the game. Germany won 4-2 and I somehow ended up in a Germany jersey and with little German flags painted on my face. This was all entirely forced upon me, since I can't truly support Germany... they kicked us out of the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup!

Then it was time to make some last-minute changes to our operations paper - Madhur! - and now we have emailed it in and I can finally go to bed. Tomorrow brings a fun-filled day of studying for my final exams. Oy.

It's hard to believe we are about to enter the last week of the first year. Some people are taking finals this weekend because they start their banking internships on Monday. George and Marco leave next weekend and I probably won't see them until I visit them in New York in early September. It's a strange and sad week. None of us can really get excited about finals being over because we know most people have to split soon afterward. Definitely a roller coaster of a week.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

06 06 06

What a crazy day. Only on 06-06-06 could I possibly find that my prior work experience producing voiceovers for video games could be useful during the MBA. Tomorrow we have to turn in our final projects for Competitive Strategy and Jan-Kees, Matteo and I have been working on Blockbuster. We did our research, prepared our Power Point slides (I always have and always will hate Power Point), and then the fun began... We had to narrate the presentation so the professor has additional material to go with the slides. And since I happen to speak the best English in our small team - what a relief! - I became the narrator.

And you know what? It was a snap. I mean, once I wrote the script, which took hours...
My three years in front of a microphone really paid off. So here's to Rockstar. Thanks guys. I know you'd throw me out the window if you saw me narrating a Power Point presentation (and I'd do the same to myself if I were in your position) but at least you have prepared me well!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New babies and film festivals

Certainly a big weekend.

Introducing.... NICOLAS JORDI BERKHEMER! The newest team A6 baby, he joins big bro Jonas (who will certainly be shocked by this new arrival tomorrow when he and Maggie come home from the hospital) and our other A6 rugrat Maria, daughter of Enrico. Congratulations to Jan-Kees and Maggie!!!

In other news, last night we held the first annual Calatrava Film Festival. Julian brought over his projector and a big screen, which we rigged to the wall on the roof. I collected the best IESE videos of the year and, after a prerequisite barbecue, we screened our favorites. It was a beautiful, relaxed evening... I think it will have to be the MONTHLY Calatrava Film Fest from here on out!

Julian and David with our rooftop screen

George, Lamberto, and Freddy

Andreas, Christina, Lena, and Diego

Bertrand, Julian, Vera, and George

The screening....

David trying to keep it under control

Friday, June 02, 2006

First weekend in Barcelona

It seems like I haven't spent the weekend in Barcelona too often recently, so I'm looking forward to a relaxed three-day weekend right here in the comfort of my own home. I'll do a little cycling, a little running, a little tanning on the terrace, some studying of course, and hopefully fit in a little beach time. I was also thinking of taking a nice siesta right now, but unfortunately the neighbor's kid decided to start playing his stupid plastic flutifone on the terrace across the way. It sounds like he's sitting next to me playing into my ear, the little brat. At least he has temporarily scared away the oversexed pigeons that inhabit their terrace. Hmmm... now getting out of town and away from recorder-playing rugrats is sounding like a great idea...

Last night I was a double dinner extravaganza. It started with an American BBQ at an American time (6pm) on the rooftop terrace of an American IESE student, Bill. Knowing a Japanese dinner was waiting for me at Juanra's house at 9:30, I avoided eating all but the smallest hunk of meat, which was deeee-licious. They sure learn how to BBQ in Montana!

So at 9:30 I headed back to my 'hood from El Born and went over to Juanra's place around the corner. I hadn't been there since he and his collection of Juans and Ramons that inhabit the house kindly took us in after the exploding moto incident of a few months ago. Satoshi and Junko came over and prepared a fabulous feast of sushi, tempura, and terriyai beef, and George and I finally rolled home around midnight. The BOW at Sutton beckoned, but sleep beckoned louder, and good thing, too because this afternoon I'm exhausted.

Hey! The recorder stopped! I guess my aim must've been pretty good with that rock I threw... Oops, I mean... I guess that lovely child has finished practicing. Nap time!

Juan, Ramon, and Juan Ramon. (Seriously!)

Sushi prepared by Junko

Junko and Juan watch as Sato prepares a feast

George learns some tempura techniques