Monday, October 30, 2006

Amsterdam Weekend

One cool thing about the 2nd year is that you can just pick up and hop on a plane without the same amount of stress that would've accompanied such an adventure in the first year. Another cool thing is that you can meet up with old pals who have graduated from IESE.

On Saturday morning I woke up at 4am to catch my flight to Amsterdam, having gone to sleep just three hours earlier due to job applications and a phone interview. By 6am my plane was off and I was out cold, and two hours later we were landing in rainy Holland. Since my uncle wasn't to arrive until 1, Floris kindly offered to have me over for breakfast.

With Floris

We chatted and caught up and then took a stroll around his neighborhood, and before I knew it, it was time to head to the port where I was to meet my uncle's boat. I arrived laden down with about 20 pounds of stroopwafels, dropped off my stuff, and we were off for a guided tour of the city, first by bus and then by canal boat.

The river cruise boat

That evening we had dinner on the boat and then headed off for a tour of the red light district guided by the cruise director. I never thought I'd be strolling through the red light district with a gang of 90 septegenarians, but hey life is full of suprises. I had my own little cabin on the ship Saturday night and thank goodness for the extra hour of sleep because it was hard enough to get out of bed in the morning!

Red Light District
Sunday we went for a stroll and enjoyed the nicer weather. We met up with Floris again and went for coffee and then later for Indonesian food. Dinner was at Moeders for some traditional Dutch fare - very hearty meat and potatoes deal. Straight back to the airport after dinner, read two cases, stretched out and fell asleep, and before I knew it, I was back in Barcelona. More photos here.

It was great to get away on my own and spend some time with friends and family away from the IESE scene. Particularly since I had a 12 hour day at school today; the result of classes, lunchtime career presentations, and team meetings. Now it's late Monday night and I know I have another long day ahead, starting bright and early at 8am.... I guess it's time to get some sleep.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Lookin' up

So it's 1am on a Friday night. My soccer team won... 10-0 or something. We lost count. The sun has been shining all week and the weather is warm. I just submitted two applications to Google, two days before the deadline. And in three hours I have to get up and head to the airport because I'm off to Amsterdam at 6am to hang out with my cool uncle.

So though it has been a bit of a roller-coaster of a week in some ways, as always, I know everything will fall into place. And at this time tomorrow I'll have a belly full of stroop waffels. That is NEVER a bad thing!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Career Daze

Six months left in the MBA, and I'm still not sure I made the right decision by pursuing the degree. Of course I've learned a lot, met wonderful people, and had a great experience. But in a few short months it'll all be over and I wonder if it will really get me where I want to go.

Unlike my classmates who want to become bankers and consultants, I want to return to the creative world. And the creative world doesn't really tend to have a use for MBAs. In fact, an MBA on your CV could actually do you more harm than good because suddenly you're "overqualified." I've been trying to come up with ways to marry my new business knowledge and my creative ideas, and I'm thinking more and more that starting my own business is the only way forward. But with so much cash sunk into the MBA, it seems a better idea to hold a steady job for a while first...

What would really kill me, though, would be to get into a company where there are creative types and business types and where I'm suddenly not seen as a creative anymore but instead hated by the creatives and seen as some sort of evil business villain. The MBA is supposed to open doors and create opportunities, but I'm concerned that in my case I'll just be pigeon-holed.

And so have run my thoughts for the past week. I'm trying to stay calm, relaxed, focused... it's only October. But it's a constant source of worry in the back of my mind. Maybe a weekend away is exactly what I need, though right now I feel like I'd like nothing more than to relax at home all weekend.

But I'm off to Amsterdam on Saturday morning to spend two days with my uncle, who is passing through on a vacation from California. We've spent several great weekends together in the past, talking all about life and living, and he's always full of insight. Hopefully Sunday night I'll return refreshed and full of new ideas and optimism.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Week That Was...

I have become a terrible blogger since the start of the second year. A whole week has passed without a post, which isn't to say nothing has happened. Au contraire. It has been quite an eventful week... classes, presentations, job possibilities, the bar crawl, the A6 dinner, and now the start of the Career Forum. But that's exactly the problem. No time for writing! I promise to improve on this, starting immediately.

George returned to Barcelona on Thursday, just in time for the Bar Crawl. Awesome to have one of the Calatrava Guapos returning to the nest. And speaking of the Bar Crawl... after much concern over first year turnout due to high stress levels, the Bar Crawl was just as successful as any. Everyone turned up decked out and ready to blow off some steam. First years dressed as superheroes, country clubbers, and 80s rockstars, while the exchange team paraded around as aliens. Each second year bar had a theme as well: pirates, punks, pimps, and pagent queens. The crawl ended with everyone meeting at Sol for the announcement of the winners, which no one heard, but it didn't matter really because by that point, all we wanted to do was dance until dawn, which is exactly what many of us did.

A second year judging team.

The rather dangerous (in hindsight) dizzy relay race game played in the pirate bar.

Members of the ever-more-impressive Section C, dressed as 80s rockstars.

Muktambar and I tally team points at the final destination.

Good thing we had calculators on our mobiles, because if Muktambar had to count on his fingers he would've been out of luck.

On Saturday night Atsh and Ayako cooked up an unbelievable feast, which was the perfect way to finish off a day of Bar Crawl recovery. Sunday was spent recovering from dinner and on Sunday evening we held the traditional A6 dinner here on our terrace because the weather was still warm enough for an early evening BBQ. A6ers of 2007 and 2008 united, though the 2nd year group was certainly decimated, with 3 members on exchange, one out of town, and one sick. Didn't make it any less fun though, and the new A6 group seems like it might carry on the tradition of being the only team still meeting (and talking to each other) on the very last day of class. Good luck guys!

Monday, October 16, 2006

The 2nd Year

Two and a half weeks into the 2nd year, and so far it's shaping up nicely. And it's true... it's NOTHING like the first year.

No more stress, except about extracurricular planning. No frantic attempts at in-class participation. No midterms! Shocking, but true. In fact, I don't think I'm even going to have any finals. We were supposed to have one, but the professor thought aloud in class that he didn't like the idea of grading 130 exams, so....

In place of all those things? For starters, the Bar Crawl is this Friday and I'm surprised by the lack of enthusiasm being shown by our friendly first years. Last year, in the midst of ABP papers and accounting homework, we managed to make a pretty outstanding showing at the bar crawl. This year's crew seems too stressed to even make a soccer practice, let alone a boozy, costume-laden Friday night extravaganza. Don't get me wrong... I did more than my fair share of stressing out last year, but it did not prevent me from getting on the march with my carefully sculpted mohawk. Hell, ANY excuse to avoid t-accounts! (My dishes, for instance, have never been so clean as they were in the first term.)

The clubs presentation is on Thursday, and fortunately for me and my meager PowerPoint skills, I only have to present the football club. Speaking of presentations... the second year seems to be all about presentations. This morning, Anna and I presented our business plan for entrepreneurship class. Tomorrow there's a big marketing presentation, and Thursday before the clubs presentation is a Google presentation.

Which brings me to another fun facet of the second year... the job hunt. While some people have already accepted offers based on their summer internships, others are starting the search from scratch. I'm following a few leads, but I'm fortunate in that the industries and companies I'd like to work for probably won't be anywhere near ready to hire me for several months. For some, this might be worrisome, but rather than be concerned, I'm just enjoying these last months of jobless freedom. Oh and learning as much as possible. After all, isn't that what the second year is for?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

IESE Number 1!

According to The Economist, anyway. For the second year in a row, we ranked first, ahead of Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg... Not too shabby!

Businessweek will announce their rankings at 11pm Spanish time, so perhaps there will be more exciting news to share later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Aneto Weekend

My apologies for my lax posting of late. I have been completely overwhelmed with classes and organizing Bar Crawls, soccer teams, trips, etc... You know, important things!

Saturday morning at 8:30am a group of nearly 40 IESE students met at school and hopped into a bus headed for Aneto, the highest peak in the Pyrenees. After several hours of sleeping and riding, we arrived at the town of Benasque to have some lunch and rent our crampons and ice axes.

Walking through Benasque in search of an open restaurant.

After driving for another hour or so, we arrived at the Refugio where we were to spend the night.

The map posted at the dining room of the refugio. We stayed at La Renclusa... Aneto is straight above, at 3404 meters.

After organizing our packs and eating dinner on Saturday night, we rolled into our bunks (yeah! bunk beds! woo hoo!) at 10:30... only to be awakened at 2:30. By 3am, we were dressed, headlamped, backpacked, and headed in the wrong direction.

What else is there to do when you've gone on the wrong trail at 3am but take a photo?! Here's our team, the Snot Rockets. We gave ourselves that name for a reason...

By 3:30am we were back on track and headed up the mountain. We climbed for several hours in darkness, the only light coming from our headlamps and the full moon. Aneto is basically a giant boulder field, so there was a lot of scrambling up and over rocks, scraping hands and knees, and stumbling.

Around 7:30am the sun started to appear. Here I am with Alex, still looking exhausted.

And with Greg shortly afterward

By 9am we were at the foot of the glacier, strapping on our crampons.

Worried we wouldn't make it to the summit due to time constraints, I ignored my burning legs and climbed as fast as I possibly could. Walking in crampons isn't easy. Walking in crampons uphill in blinding sunlight... well, let's just say it was kind of tiring. But completely exhilirating!

But we did finally make it to the top, and in record time.

Greg, Chris (on exchange from UCLA) and me, just before crossing "Puente de Muhammed," a narrow land bridge with a 200 meter drop on either side.

Making my way across the Puente, where I said, "If my mother saw me doing this she'd say, "NOELLE SADLER! Get down from there!"

At the very top, with Chris, Andreas, Bertrand, and Jatsek

Of course, the problem with climbing up a mountain is that you eventually have to go back down. So at 11am we were headed back to the Refugio, completely exhausted. On the way back we met up with some of our group members who hadn't crossed the glacier. While they were resting, they saw a climber fall the entire way down a sheer cliff up above them. They went to try to help, but when they reached him and took his pulse, he was dead. His friend and fellow climber had to sit and wait there with him while the emergency crew arrived by helicopter. It put a bit of a damper on our spirits and reminded us that you can't take anything for granted.

By 3:30 we finally arrived back at the refugio, sweaty and exhausted. My legs refused to cooperate with me any longer, and I was delighted to get back on our bus for the trip back to Barcelona. Now, three days later, my legs are still hurting, but it was worth it to summit my first mountain.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Here's wishing a very happy 25th birthday to my favorite sister. Wish we could celebrate together!

Then. Nicole, me, and my friend Annie Bananie

Now. Nicole, me, lots of sweaty people.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Humpday... a bigger hump than ever!

Silly me, thinking there'd be time for R&R in the 2nd year. Granted, pressure in class isn't so high, but I feel like I'm running around like a lunatic more than ever before. And this Monday-Wednesday schedule I have isn't helping much. Four or five classes back to back really takes it out of you.

But now it's Wednesday afternoon, I'm over the hump, and I have some fun to look forward to. Tonight we are having a little Corsica reunion to remember all those wonderful times we had on vacation just two weeks ago. Are we nostalgic or what?! Tomorrow, just two classes, maybe some basketball, and in the evening a celebration of the wedding of Alex (my former flatmate) and Natalia. Woo hoo! And then the BOW of course.

Friday brings another relaxed, two-class day and a dinner for Alexia's birthday. Saturday morning I'll be up early to take a bus to the Pyrenees with about 40 others and Sunday we'll try to summit Aneto, the highest peak. You know, a little weekend jaunt across a glacier with crampons and an ice axe. No biggie.

Meanwhile, I've been working on several "extracurricular" activities which have kept me busy and in full case study procrastination mode. I'm organizing the upcoming Bar Crawl, getting the ladies' football team rolling, co-hosting the running club, writing goofy columns for the school paper, and ... uh well that's this month I guess. The winter ski trip and the Olympics are also in their initial planning stages. At least I can't say I'm bored.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Oof Monday

Wow. Long day. I thought I could handle it, but I'm desperate for a nap. Too bad napping now would just mess up my normal sleep and cause tomorrow to be even more painful...

So this morning the alarm went off and I thought, "Why the hell did I set my alarm for 2am?" It was dark out, and I was truly surprised when I looked at the clock and saw 7:00. Bummer. I was at school just before 8, waiting for the cafe to open so I could get a much-needed coffee, and then at my first Entrepreneurship class at 8:15. MECMI followed at 9:45 and then at 11 I had no class because Econ doesn't start till tomorrow, so I went to the bank to take care of apartment stuff.

Lunchtime brought a meeting about the upcoming bar crawl and afterward Logistics class. In a few weeks, I'll have that 5th class after Logistics, and I'm already thinking it was a bad idea to tack on an extra half credit. Well, it's only Monday. We shall see.

Tomorrow, same deal, with the addition of Econ before lunch. Yeouch. I'm looking forward to nice light Thursday already. Now I should probably stop procrastinating, as I have two more cases to read for tomorrow. Wait, I'm only 2 pages into the one sitting in front of me.... three more cases to read for tomorrow. Ugh. Well at least it's not the 1st year!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Turning Japanese

I am determined to learn a bit of Japanese now that Atsh and Ayako are living in the apartment, and Atsh and I have agreed to an intercambio of sorts, where I promise to speak Spanish to him if he'll speak in Japanese to me. Well, if he'll teach me one word a day I guess...

Yesterday I was sitting in the kitchen with Ayako and Felice (another LBS exchange student who currently doesn't have a flat and is crashing at our place) having some breakfast when Atsh walked in and the following conversation ensued:

Noelle: Good morning!
Atsh: Good morning!
Noelle: Wait, how do you say it in Japanese?
Atsh: Ohio.
Ayako: Yes, like the state. Ohio.
Noelle: Ohio!
Everyone: Ohio!
Noelle: So what does "Kentucky" mean?
Atsh: Fried chicken!

I'm learning so much already! I'm sure to be fluent in about 3 weeks.