Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ESADE, Estoy Aqui.

Day two. It’s 8:00 am and I’m on the bus to Cardona for two days- a “LEAD” seminar; a team-building expedition, leadership fostering and “get to know you” experience for the 118 students in my MBA class, representing at least 33 countries. 

“Orientation Week” has begun…yesterday was exhausting- and invigorating. 

We were repeatedly told to “Have a plan. Be prepared. Know what you want otherwise the opportunities here will pass you by.”


Isn’t that WHY I am here? To figure it all out?

I’m a little overwhelmed- a lot overwhelmed- but nothing I can’t handle. We stood up and introduced ourselves yesterday. 
“I’m Morgan. BA in Literature.” Well, THAT didn’t sound right. 
The words came spilling out of my mouth and into a room filled with smart, qualified, worldly, engaging, extraordinary people. No other Lit majors, needless to say. 10 hours of introductions, of lectures, advice, information- of “who are you?”s, “what do you do?”s, “what do you want to do?”s, “why are you here?”s, and the like.

The decisions have already begun; do we tell the truth? Do we admit that we are only now figuring out who we are? What we want? 
Do we admit that only a tiny piece of the puzzle is in place?

When I grow up….
IF I grow up.
And then there are the select few around me who have grown up. Completely. Who know exactly what they want and are here to do nothing but achieve that.

Yesterday was long. My head was spinning and the names and faces of the classmates I met were running through my mind at a marathon pace. Yesterday was a marathon. Today is a marathon, tomorrow, next week, next month, the next year and a half. It will all be a marathon.

And then they told us; “You are now ESADE students. You are part of one of the best business schools in the world. Each of you helps to comprise a multi-national, multi-cultural class of remarkable students. Get ready. Work hard. Welcome.” (or something like that…)
Either way…ESADE, estoy aqui...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Final Countdown

It’s the night before the very beginning of my MBA. I’ve loved every minute of my time here from the moment I stepped off the plane. But now, well now is a different story. My alarm clock is set for an ungodly hour. Admittedly, an hour of daylight I haven’t seen in quite some time.

I thought about picking out an outfit- about how wide to smile- how candid to be- how reserved. Should I show my excitement, my nerves? Or should I hide behind who I think I should be as “an MBA student?”

I thought about all of this and then I came to my senses. I took a step back (a big step) and I told myself to get a grip- I’m 27 years old- an adult (of sorts). I am who I am. Some people will like me, others will not- this I am sure of. 
And honestly? What I wear the first day of classes couldn’t matter less. Again, I needed to begin thinking rationally.

I was focusing on the small things…the diminutive trivial details that served the purpose of masking the bigger picture. I’m no Freud but it doesn’t take much to see that pondering silver or black sandals was simply an excuse not to assess the important stuff- the main event: the petrifying fact that in just a few hours, I will officially be an MBA student. 

As I mentioned at some point in the past, I AM as ready as I will ever be. But still- I keep stopping and thinking to myself- “what the hell did I do??” AN MBA? IN SPAIN. Beginning tomorrow. 

So tonight, I say goodbye. I close the chapters that have lead me here and I begin a new one. A big one. A life-altering, eye-opening, mind-blowing experience that will doubtlessly change my life forever. I say goodbye to sleeping in, walking slowly, taking my time, and to a certain amount of freedom. But I’m doing this to allow myself a different type of freedom in the future. A better brand of freedom. 

With all these goodbyes, I say goodbye to me- who I am now, and I welcome the future version of myself—all the while hoping that I will like her as much as I did before. Hoping to make myself proud- hoping to exceed my own expectations- to accomplish more than I’ve ever accomplished. I hope I continue to live fast- give myself over to things with reckless abandon, but that I learn to moderate. 

I hope I finally figure out what it is I really want- that I learn to effectively fuse my passion with my purpose.
I know, come tomorrow, that I wont sleep much- I’ll have minimal time to myself- I’ll be making huge decisions and I hope to make them right. I have to remember to not lose myself- to continue to be who I have learned to be- be strong, be independent, but allow myself the capacity to change- to grow. 

Either way, despite the butterflies attacking my innards- the “impending doom” feeling lingering in the air around me- despite all I have given up to be here right now- I know I am exactly where I should be.

And yes, I decided on the black flip flops.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Good, The Bad...THE BARCA

According to my “loyal readers” (aka: the friends of mine who tend to cane me when I write anything they don’t like- or don't understand), I’m being too philosophical about this experience and lacking in the details specific to the initial part of my time here. After all, I AM in Barcelona and not doing some typical MBA in Philly or Boston…(not that there’s anything wrong with Penn, it’s just not my thang.)

Being that I have only been here two weeks…I’m going to simplify this and then, hopefully one day, I’ll be far more equipped to justify my haughty “this is one of the best cities in the world” statement. 

Things I love about BCN;

-Pimientos de Padrón
-Siestas (even though I don’t take them- it’s the concept that gets me every time)
-The fact that being 10 minutes late to everything really means that I’m about 20 minutes early.
-The proximity to some of the most beautiful cities and beaches in the world
-That I can get home when the sun has already risen and I’m far from being the only one
-The nightlife. Ah, the nightlife….
-That Bush isn’t President here
-The ease with which I am able to navigate the public transportation
-The fact that I can see the mountains from the sea, and vice-versa
-Tortilla Española
-Dinner at midnight
-Being in the minority as a tall blonde (or so I like to tell myself)
-The music
-The plazas (yes, all of them)
-Getting to the beach at 5:00 p.m. and still having over three hours of sunlight
-The diversity of my classmates
-Antoni Gaudí
-The weather (Barca, seriously, has to have the best climate in the world. No joke)
-The abundance of beautiful people
-Market juice
-The noise
-But most of all- I love the fact that I can’t even begin to imagine how long this list is going to be- that this is just the beginning- that it can only get better from here…

Things I don’t like so much (you knew there had to be a few…);

-The Euro-Dollar exchange rate (although anything is better than the British Pound)
-Trying to figure out where the accents and ñ’s are on my laptop
-Not having enough hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month, and so on…
-Imperfecto vs. Indefinido
-Flat hunting (apartment searching) and the incompetent agencies/agents who seem to make all our lives far more complicated than need be
-The astonishing lack of bartenders capable of making a dirty martini 
-9:00 a.m. classes (and knowing that the hard stuff hasn’t even begun yet)
-The abundance of tourists (even though its August and I haven’t yet seen the half of it) And no- I’m not a tourist. Anywhere…

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Everything in Moderation"

I have finally found an hour to sit down and write- (which was no easy feat), but all I come up with are jumbled thoughts…good thoughts, but nonsensical. No conclusions or profound explanations. Nothing of the sort…so much to say but nothing to write.

It’s probably a result of the excessive excess of everything here in Barcelona. The going without stopping- the constant lack of moderation…the gluttonous surplus of all that is good in life. Or in my opinion, all that is good. 

I’ve spent a large portion of my years- at least the years in which I have been writing…trying to make sense of my existence, to define it- and then to put it into words. Right now- to put it bluntly- I don’t have the words. I can’t seem find them.

I had forgotten what it feels like to be so overwhelmed that you stop ticking things off the list and just do them…or do as much of them as you can. My lists have gone out the window, I don’t bother making specific plans because I know I will only make it to an eighth of what I have arranged, and I stopped trying to think about circumstances- and just live them.

Before I left for Barca- the night before- I grabbed the volume of my journals from 1999- and read and re-read the entries from the days before I left to begin my undergraduate degree. From the moment I started scanning the yellowed pages, I immediately realized that I was younger, I was more ignorant, more inexperienced, and more idealistic- but essentially the same person. I went off to university hoping to find a life in DC equipped with everything that I had lacked up until then. I wanted to find those who appreciated and loved me, I wanted to learn, to find my passions, to define my passions, and to live a life where I stopped having to think about being happy….I just wanted to feel it. 
I wanted to find myself. 

There was a point when I thought I could simply discard the flaws that made up who I was and morph into someone I wanted to be but had never been. Talk about innocence… Needless to say, that never happened. I got to GW and I was exactly who I had always been…and I thought about being happy, instead of just being happy. I did things I didn’t necessarily want to do, but because I thought that’s what I should be doing. I was busy- very busy being someone I didn’t want to be, in a place I didn’t want to be in. But it was a part of my life- and it made me who I am now- as did all the other good and bad things I’ve gone through.

Now- since I’m all about drawing parallels lately- I look at the way I have approached this experience, as opposed to how I felt en route to DC…and the similarities are uncanny. Possibly it’s always wanting more- or wanting the best- or wanting the most- but I threw myself into this life here in Spain just as I threw myself into DC. I came here, packed with my flaws and defects- bearing the burden of my mistakes and downfalls- but ready to do it all again….and similarly, I’m overwhelmed- I don’t know where to start and worse, when to end…and even if I figured that out, I don’t think I could stop- would stop. I’m not stopping until it’s over.

I came to Spain, as I went to DC, open to everything new but with my previous life hanging over my shoulder…reminding me of my weaknesses and how not to falter. I have not come to Spain this time around to find myself. I know exactly who I am…for the most part. So this time, I know what I want. I go for it- I get it…and now I have to learn to moderate. 

So finding the time to sit down and write- well, I found a bit of that. Taking the time to stop for a second…to relax, to find the words to define whatever this is- that’s the challenge. To learn the definition of moderation…speaking of flaws.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Estamos en España...

When you prepare for something for so long, it always seems a bit like an illusion. Moving to Spain- for me- was an illusion- it still is. There are moments, a few times a day, when I stop myself in the middle of the street, or mid-way through a glass of Cava and look around in shock. I stop, I take a deep breath, and I almost have to remind myself that I live here. 
I live in Barcelona. 

There are things in this life that we plan and confidently believe will come to pass. And then there are those things that are so incredible- that until they happen, we choose not to fully believe them for fear of being disappointed. 

I had always dreamed of living in Barcelona, of doing my MBA, of absolute freedom and of a new journey smack in the middle of my current one- because after all, life is one big ride. 

What I generally find is that when these “preparations” actually do come to pass- they are not as grand- or as spectacular as we had once hoped, or expected.

Being here now though, is even better than I ever could have imagined- and that surprises me. I was scared that my life has been too big- that coming here wouldn’t compare to what I’ve had…or wouldn’t live up to the standard I have set for myself. 

Yet, I have only been here a week- so I may be getting ahead of myself- but I honestly think that I got exactly what I wanted…which is pretty damn rare.

I’m still incredulous at the fact that I am here- that I live here- that it’s 9:00 p.m. and I haven’t even begun to get ready for dinner- but I’m not stressed- and no one is counting on me to be ready anytime soon.
Estamos en España. 

But what’s the most shocking to me, is what I feel when I walk down the street- how I feel when I am sitting at a café, ordering tapas, on the metro, drinking four cortados a day, searching for fresh produce on the market, sidestepping the shady charcters on Las Ramblas, even sitting in class for the first time in five years….it’s sheer joy. Like I said- it’s all part of the ride- a massive detour from my original path that has now BECOME my journey. 
Barcelona, a week in, is already home. 

Now all I have to do is find an apartment….

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Spain- take 2...

Two days in Barcelona- and it feels like a year. A good year.

Three nights ago I was flying in- (of course after paying an exorbitant amount in extra luggage)- and staring wide-eyed at the city below me as the plane began its decent.

There was a part of me- a nagging thought in the back of my mind- that thought, “no. not again.. I don’t want to do this again.” After a while, the moving “thing” gets tiring. 
Exhausting, in fact. Eventually, the novelty wears off and the despondency sets in. In most cases, I’ve left someplace I’ve loved- and with that, the people I’ve loved. And regardless of how fantastic the new city is- it is still that- a new city; with unfamiliar streets, new faces, an alien language, and many tasks to complete. Starting from zero. 

As I was going through this list in my head- preparing myself for worst-case scenarios- the mishaps I have experienced time and time again…something else came to mind.

I glanced out over the lights of the city- the coast line- the 11 pm traffic- and a memory came to mind. Its actually funny I didn’t think of this before- considering the parallel… but here it is; I was 15 years old. It was the summer before my Sophomore year of high school and there I was- in a plane- different airline, same hour- flying in darkness over Spain. If I am not mistaken, I landed in Seville- before I was transferred to Barbate where my mother had arranged for me to live with a family for a few months. I remember I was terrified. My friends were all going to summer camp or on teen tours with their best friends. My mother, on the other hand, put a crisp passport into my hands and through my tears- told me I would appreciate this opportunity later in life- 
and appreciate it, I do. 

But back then- well, that was a different story. I remember showing up in this tiny fishing village- being served a bowl of cold snails swimming in tepid water- and trying to convince my homestay family about my vegetarianism SO unsuccessfully that my mother got a call from the program the next day regarding my supposed anorexia. It was then that I realized what a problem this language-barrier thing really was. 
Needless to say- we got it all cleared up- I learned Spanish and was fed Tortilla Espanola for every meal until the end of the summer. 
Now, over a decade later, here I am in an apartment in Barcelona- having just eaten Tortilla Espanola at the tapas bar down the street- ready to begin another life-altering phase of my life.

It was that summer in Spain that began this whole “international” thing. It opened me up to everything America is not. I would like to think that it was that experience that set me on the path that lead me to where I am now…right back to where it all started. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Two hours until I leave for the airport and I still haven’t finished packing. Which makes me think- maybe I’ll never be finished packing. Or unpacking for that matter.
And possibly, there is a reason behind this procrastination- like subconsciously not wanting to leave- or not wanting to begin…not yet.

Believe it or not, I have loved this “in-between” purgatorial period…this having finished one thing and not yet begun the next.

I liked saying “yes, I’m going to do my MBA in Spain”…but not having to do the work involved. It was like a free pass. I could do whatever I wanted- be wherever I wanted to be- pursue whatever I wanted to pursue- but still…. “She’ll be doing her MBA in Spain” or “She’s preparing for her MBA in Spain.” Now, as I shove my belongings into yet another suitcase, I have realized that I really will be “doing my MBA in Spain.” And I’m not sure I’m set to give up this freedom yet…but then again, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Such is my life. And one hour and 55 minutes from now I will be closing another door behind me- a physical and metaphorical door- and walking through a new one. I will unpack my bags- for the time being- and I will be a student, in Spain, doing my MBA.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


A good friend of mine recently moved to Texas for his job...poor lad.
After asking him how he likes it, this is the response I got;

"The coffee is terrible. The food is terrible. The radio stations play 5 songs. The TV plays weight loss ads, and only weight loss ads. 
I can't handle the accents - so many beautiful girls who dress like shit and sound like chickens... the bugs here are the size of animals. The clubs only seem to play Now! 30 seconds remixes. The people drive with all the aggression of a hippie squad, in the order of confetti. I can't fill a tank of f*cking gas without some a**hole asking me for spare change for a lottery ticket."

It was just too funny not to share!

Oh, how happy I am to be moving to a sophisticated European city and not a massive State in the middle of America whose claims to fame are the Bush family and cattle!