Only six days after coming back from South Africa, I’m embarking on another trip. This time it’s a very quick one, down south of Spain, to Sevilla. I could not pass this one by, as I was dreaming about going to Ferrias de Sevilla since last year when I saw it on Snapchat Story (that’s how you find out about things these days).
Ferrias is a week long festival where women and men get to dress up in their finest traditional outfits – women in spectacular flamenco dresses and men in suits with sombreros. Every evening, people dance sevillana, drink wine, and eat tapas. All of this takes place in casetas, special tents that are temporarily built for the fair and beautifully decorated. These casetas belong to prominent families, groups of friends or associations and you need to know someone to get into one of them. Our group was lucky enough to be invited to one of the tents by an IE student from Sevilla, which made our experience unforgettable.
We arrived to Sevilla at 3pm on a Saturday. Girls changed into traditional outfits that we collected last minute in Madrid and the guys put on their finest suits. When we got to the fairground, we were transported into another world. Our heads were turning left and right as we were watching spectacular outfits, beautiful women and handsome looking men. I’m glad we collectively decided to dress up and blend in the crowd because we felt a closer connection with the tradition and culture of that place. We were taught how to dance Sevillana and had an absolute blast all night. Another great trip with a great group of friends. Check!
My MBA Program consists of 4 periods: 2 core terms that last 10 weeks each, a 5 week lab period and about 12 weeks of electives. The lab period, which I just entered into, gives a student the possibility of working on a start-up idea or on a consulting project for a major local company (business impact lab). Both of those options combine taking classes and group work. There are two other options that are more hands on and outside of the classroom – an internship or a Social Impact Lab in Peru or Johannesburg which is what I have chosen to do. Social Impact Lab is a part of Leadership Development Program led by Emzingo, a company that “prepares and equips responsible leaders to solve the worlds most pressing problems.” The program gives students the opportunity to act as consultants for nonprofit organizations and social business, to help them with problems in their business models from marketing and branding to financial modeling and fundraising strategies.
Social entrepreneurship has been a concept on the rise over the past few years. Having heard little about it before, I got exposed to it during the MBA and very much became interested. More and more young people feel the urge to give back and are not motivated by the financial gains alone. They want to make a difference and change the life of people in their communities, cities, and countries through innovative solutions. They are visionaries but realists, who combine entrepreneurship skills with the passion to create societal value and drive for a change. Here is a list of 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs and their often simple but scalable, and sustainable ideas.
The trend is there and looking promising. I could not be more excited to be working on a project for an ethical business whose mission is to make other people’s lives better. More about the project in my next post.
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.
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…
I thought that the worst part of moving to another country was packing (which I’m struggling with anyways). I couldn’t have been more wrong. Over the past nine years of my life in Chicago I met a wonderful group of people who I am proud to call my friends. I am leaving lots of great memories here but I am also excited for the new memories we are going to make when you come and visit Spain. I could not be happier to have met you all and I am definitely going to miss you. Until this day I felt like I was going on vacation but saying goodbye to everyone made it so much more real. And that is the worst part of moving.