Time flies when you’re having fun, they say. I could not agree more and I would add, that it also flies when you’re busy as never before in your entire life. It’s been 10 months since I arrived in Madrid…who could believe?! I certainly can’t when I think about the days when I begun to meet all the wonderful people I have in my life now. In looking back at my beginnings in Madrid, I find these photographs from Parque de Retiro taken by my friend and a great photographer, Mario, last fall. His art work can be found here.
Thank you Mario, for capturing the beautiful moments on a sunny day in Madrid.
Second term could not have been busier. Four exams, three presentations, two papers and special group projects all combined with preparations to a 6 week trip to South Africa and a few interviews along the way. All of this equals little sleep and a bit of stress. It’s interesting how your body is able to quickly adjust to changes. Before the MBA, I could not function properly without my 8 hours of beauty sleep. My norm now is 6 hours on average but during crunch time it’s about 4 to 5 and I must say it isn’t as bad as I thought. Coffee in the morning and afternoon is a must and I’m like new (If I’m lucky I’ll take a quick Spanish siesta after classes).
Twenty four hours before departure to Johannesburg were busier than the rest of the week. After the finance exam on Friday I went for a quick lunch with my classmates, after which I came back home, did laundry and packed my suitcase. I intended to take a nap which didn’t happen as my busy mind did not want to rest so I just lied in my bed for 45 minutes and decided to go to the gym. By the time I left my apartment to join everyone at a semester-end celebration, it was midnight. Since I had one more daunting task to do before my departure, an online strategy exam, I just permitted myself an hour at the party in order to get a good night sleep to recover from tiredness. This of course didn’t happen as I ended up in bed at 4:30 in the morning without sleeping for 24hrs. I still wonder where this energy came from.
After 3hrs of sleep I took the exam while my fabulous roommates went for a coffee run, made breakfast and helped me pack for my early flight. I can’t forget about the travel goodie bag they prepared for me. Theses girls are so thoughtful! Now I’m sitting on my first connecting flight to Cairo and I feel the exhaustion is finally hitting me. I’m glad the next flight is a redeye so I can sleep like a baby.
And that is a life of an MBA student.
Carnival in Spain is a pretty big deal. It starts some time in February and finishes with the “Burial of the Sardine” on the night of Ash Wednesday which marks the first day of Lent. Yes, the Spanish burry a Sardine and the whole ritual has a sense of a festive mourning with a parade, music and dancing. Since Carnival in Tenerife, one of the Spanish Canary Islands, is known to be the biggest, the wildest and turns out – the longest (it ends the weekend after Ash Wednesday) in Spain, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to relax before the final exams and experience local customs. Why not…
Along with three friends we arrived to Puerto de la Cruz, the northern city of the Island on a Saturday morning. We were hungry for some sunshine and since the weather was delightful we headed out for a walk around the little town and to the black sand beach, which I’ve never seen before. My observation of the day…black sand does not dirty your feet at all! It does not stick to feet so you don’t have the problem of “sand in your shoes.” 🙂 As we continued our stroll, there was one thing that quite worried us – the town looked like a destination for retiree’s retreats…We wondered whether we picked a wrong date to see the carnival. However, we quickly realized that younger crowd was just sleeping through their hangovers from the previous night of partying.
Since we were joining the parade in the afternoon we were on a mission to buy masks, which we did not have problem finding. I went for a seductive gold & black 😉 We dressed in completely unmatched costumes picked from random items collected from different events like Halloween or IMBA unite, which made us look ridiculous, but we couldn’t have more fun when we joined the parade and walked the streets of the city dancing and waving to the crowd (#carnivalqueens). The costumes of others blew our minds. Families and groups of friends were perfectly coordinated and creativity went through the roof (trust me, so much better than any Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen before). An interesting thing was that most men were dressed as women wearing tutus, tights, wigs, and makeup. I don’t know if that’s the Carnival thing or a Tenerife thing, don’t ask me but it was certainly entertaining. My absolute winners were a group of lady bugs and a group of sexy female (I mean male) firefighters. The second, and the last day, was spent in the main city of Tenerife – Santa Cruz, in the southern part of the island. Since the weather was even better than the day before, we hopped on a bus and went to a man made white sand beach (Playa de las Teresitas) which was beautiful. Our luck ended after 15 minutes of sunbathing when we got unpleasantly surprised by the rain. Ariel found it a great opportunity to go for a 45 minutes swim (she’s a mermaid after all), while the rest of us went to a local beach bar which served delicious mojitos….and that’s where the story ends….
Happy New Year from Budapest! I was lucky enough to end 2015 and begin 2016 with a milestone…
At the beginning of 2015 I already knew I’d be moving to Spain to attend grad school, and so I focused on traveling within the States and visiting friends. In the 8 months leading to my departure I’ve been to: Huston, Austin, San Francisco, LA, Denver, Scottsdale, Phoenix, New York, Nashville, Orlando, Miami, and Philadelphia. It was definitely a good year. On top of that I finished it in Hungary – officially putting a 30th pin on my map!
As I leave 2015 reluctantly, I am looking forward 2016 with a bit of anxiety. I finish MBA in 7 months and don’t know where I will end up – in which country and with what type of job. On one hand that is exciting, but on the other hand the unknown makes me nervous. I have a lot of work to do in the next few months and the winter break was definitely helpful in preparing me mentally for what’s to come.
What other New Years resolutions do I have? Like every year and like every other girl – to get in shape. Unfortunately, student life messed up my eating and working out routine. I eat out more and work out definitely less. I thought that by moving to Europe I’d be walking everywhere and be healthier. Nothing more misleadinng. I live 3 minutes away from school and since most of the days I spend studying, I barely move. I also have excuses not to go to the gym which is just around the corner. Whack! I really miss my Core Power Yoga classes…Since I’m entering the last year of my 20s (what?!?) I need to take care of myself more. That includes clean, lean and green eating and an after class gym routine. I’m not alone in this resolution, so it will definitely be easier to share that with a friend.
Less talking, more doing!
Christmas Market at the Plaza Mayor
Christmas spirit has arrived to Madrid! I didn’t know what to expect in terms of Holiday decoration but I must say, Madrid did not disappoint and looks gorgeous. The streets are covered with beautiful lights, which by tradition are turned on the last Friday of November, and other Christmas ornaments. The main Christmas Market is located in Plaza Mayor which is filled with a vast array of stalls mainly with decorations, Christmas trees, and artisan products. Unfortunately, it does not have a feel of Christkindlmarkt from Chicago. I miss the hot, spiced wine, rowdy atmosphere and closeness of familiar people. For that reason, I substituted hot wine with some churros and hot chocolate at a famous Chocolateria San Gines. I haven’t had any churro since I arrived here. I know…horrendous!
Churros & Hot Chocolate
It’s also not cold for December, which is of course fantastic, but wearing a light leather jacket with no gloves, hats, and scarves is a bit weird. I do not miss the shivering for sure though 😉 After walking around the city on Friday evening it was time to hit up the movie theater and see the last part of Hunger Games: The Mockingjay. It was definitely worth it!
I feel guilty about neglecting my blog so badly. I had no idea that moving to Spain and doing MBA will turn into the busiest time and most intense roller coaster of my life. It’s been over 3 months since I arrived in Madrid and here are some highlights of what I have been doing during that time:
- Ended Term 1…and started Term 2 immediately (I’m a zombie)
- Stayed at school past 12am countless times (that’s about 15 hours per day)
- Spent countless hours on group projects and survived group conflicts
- Attended multiple company presentations and passed the first interview with Microsoft (the rest is pending)
- Intensely soul searched (pretty name for figuring out what you wanna do with your life; ah! and don’t forget about your passions)
On the more fun side….
- Met ~300 new, bright and ambitious people from all over the world
- Ate too much tapas (I want some real food!)
- Drank…I don’t know how many bottles of wine, but many (don’t judge, I’m in Spain!)
- Went to a few great trips around Spain (most of them are or will be described in detail)
- Won Best Halloween Costume Prize (say what?!)
- Danced till 5am a few times (too few, should strive for more)
After all of this, I’m very much looking forward to my Christmas Break that can’t come soon enough…15 days…
Spain is known for producing different types of wine from famous full bodied reds and crispy whites to cava and sherry. Not surprisingly, Spain is the third largest producer of wine in the world. Being a wine lover that I am, I could not resist the temptation of visiting a few wineries during the harvest season. I was planning on going to Rioja, the most famous wine region about 3.5hrs outside of Madrid, for the past few weekends. Unfortunately, due to many obligations, it will have to wait for the next year. I was able, however, to arrange a one day trip to Castile and Leon’s wine region called Ribera del Duero, a land of Tempranillo, much closer to Madrid. It was a perfect fall day for excursion like this and together with two friends we were able to enjoy two wineries – one small, family owned and the other one – more commercial (Bodega Arzuaga). In the meantime we strolled the streets of adorable little town Peñafiel. What a beautiful day it was!
What do you think is a typical Spanish food? Some might say tortilla espanola, jamon iberico, empanadas or gazpacho. I think of paella…So what is paella? It is a rice dish, which originated from a Valencian recipe (hence often called paella Valanciana), often with meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, vegetables, seasoned with saffron and rosemary. Other types of paellas include seafood or can be mixed (meat and seafood). The thing about that dish is that it’s not easy to make. The recipe might seem straightforward, but if you add too little of this, and too much of that, and if you cook the rice for too long/short or do all the process in a different order, you basically screwed up. A few days ago, as a group bonding exercise or ice-breaker so to speak, our MBA intake was divided into +/- 20 groups of inexperienced paella cooks. It was of course a challenge, and whichever group won, got a trophy, a few bottles of bubbly, and of course the title of the best paella chefs of September 2015 intake. My group was serious about winning. So serious, that we designated two seaoned cooks, and let them do their thing. We also delegated other people for roles such as: bartenders (someone’s gotta bring and drink that beer), dancers, photographers, chef supervisors and rice stirrers to mention a few (team work is what matters, right?!). I personally was a little bit of everything (I think it’s called a GM), but enjoyed taste quality control the most (“rice not cooked enough”, “too much salt”). The outcome was, I must say, pretty tasty. Unfortunately, it was not enough for the grand jury to pick us as the winner, but who cares! At least I know how to make paella now! If you’d like a challenge and make it yourself, click here for the recipe. This weekend I’m traveling to Valencia, the land of paella, so I’m curious to try the original recipe.
It’s been a few hectic days since I moved into my apartment (finally!). The time was spent on organizing it and because of that I was running around for a few necessities. Thankfully, I made it without a trip to IKEA which would not be convenient to get to. In the meantime, my MBA Program has taken off! The official ceremony took place in Segovia, a historical city with many architectural treasures including the Aqueduct of Segovia (dating back to year 50 AD), the biggest and oldest standing aqueduct in the world, and Alcazar of Segovia, the castle that apparently was an inspiration in creating castles in Disney movies. The opening itself was in the Convent of Santa Cruz la Real, which houses the IE University’s main campus. It’s worth mentioning that the ceremony took place in the church adjacent to the convent where Queen Isabella blessed Christopher Columbus before his trip to discover “India.” (How cool is that?!). The rest of the day was spent on mingling with new classmates, and I must say it’s probably the most diverse group of people I’ve ever been around (350 students from 65 different countries). It’s gonna be an interesting year!
Serbia, Poland, Costa Rica, Peru, USA