Madrid in Retrospect

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.

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The life of an MBA student

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 Tenerife 

 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.” ūüôā 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 ūüėČ 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….

Hello 2016! 

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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!

It feels like Christmas 

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 ūüėČ 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!

Shopping Therapy

Being a (female) student = no spending = NO SHOPPING. That’s a frightening perspective to have for¬†one full year especially when you have a “passion for fashion” (or shopping problem if you will). Up to date I was pretty good about it¬†due to lack of¬†time for such fun activities. But the time has come as my wardrobe choices grew smaller and my needs (or rather wants) grew bigger. I decided to release my accumulated stress and go for a therapy to my one and only Spanish love – Zara. I must say I have three of them within walking distance…(it’s like Starbuck in the US – on every corner!). Right of the bat, when I entered the biggest¬†Zara store I’ve ever been to (3 levels of¬†women’s clothes), it was clear that¬†Zara’s Spring 2016 collection is the¬†flashback to¬†the¬†70’s. I must say that floral-embroidered maxi dresses, tie-neck blouses, furry finishes, and wide-leg denim are not really my style. I’m trying to remember when was the last time I wore wide-leg denim…maybe in high school. I like my minimalist, classy, non flashy style, so I don’t think I’ll convert this upcoming spring. That being said,¬†it would not be me if I left empty handed…Here are some of my recent Zara finds.

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MBA Syndrome

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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…