Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Normally, I create reading lists (posted on the blog or not) of books I have read and liked, books I would like to read, books that have been recommended to me, books I love, and so on and so forth.
As I was clearing out my apartment readying myself for the big move to Italy- I found a number of half read books that seemed to have gathered enough dust to grow their own legs and hide themselves in hidden corners on their own. This discovery, the result of an excavation of all my leftovers from the past year and a half, came as a surprise. Before I began the MBA, I can honestly say that I NEVER began a book and didn't finish it. It was almost as if the compulsion manifested itself into an obsessive-compulsive disorder. I mean- in the past, I would lose sleep if I left a book unfinished. Even if I knew how it ended, if I hated it from page one, or if I had a stack of another 100 books to read just staring at me from my bedside table- I finished every book I had ever opened.
Now, however, there has been a change. I didn't realize the severity of it until I discovered a total graveyard of half read novels.
There have, however, been a number of books I did finish. Therefore, this must mean that I am cured of my OCD and I have learned- through no effort of my own- to save precious time and energy by not wasting it on substandard books- since there are so many novels in the world to be read (and now it seems that with the arrival of the e-reader, I am on a deadline as well).
So here is my non-reading list, for anyone who wants to know what books I would return if I could. This isn’t saying that these aren’t good books- they just didn't peak my interest in the short amount of time I gave them opportunity to…being that I was doing an MBA and all…
1. Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell. I thought, with both Blink and The Tipping Point, that Malcolm actually got to his point, explored it and finished it within the first 20 pages of both of these books. In Outliers, I didn't even get through ten. I would read the back cover, and leave it at that.
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson. Just see the movie. Much, MUCH better.
3. Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom. LOVED Tuesdays With Morrie. This one though…not so much. Skip it.
4. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. Just couldn't get through it.
5. Ex-Girlfriends United, Matt Dunn. Just Awful. This purchase (and the following) were due to the limited selection in the “English Section” of the bookstore in Rome. It’s amazon.com from here on out…
6. True Love and Other Disasters, Rachel Gibson. Mediocre for beach reading.
7. Any vampire book written and subsequently published in order to capitalize on the success of the Twilight series.
On the other hand, I have recently acquired three novels that I am truly looking forward to reading;
1. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
2. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
3. The Girl Who Played With Fire, Stieg Larsson
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I could say that in a perfect world, I would be able to talk about my fabulous job, my post-MBA experience where I was taking steps to become who I have always wanted to become-moving forward in the world…maybe an editor of some global business publication, a strategic advisor for high profile luxury brands, a political consultant…
Truth is, even now, I don't know what my dream job is. Throughout the development of the MBA, I kept believing that something would simply drop into my lap- a new passion, the thing I excelled at- my path.
I knew that an MBA would open up the business world to me and at the same time, somewhere deep down, I hoped that in the process, I would discover a new road- or at the very least, an alternate direction. Perhaps banking, some type of consulting, operations…I don't know. And within my two years as a student at ESADE, and the many, MANY courses I took- I did unearth new interests. However- I did not, in fact, find a new vocation.
At the end of the day, when all is said and done and both Barcelona and the MBA are behind me- it is clear that I walked away with two years of great memories, a diploma and advanced knowledge of the Spanish language. Yet the greatest lesson I learned is that maybe I always knew who I was, what I was good at and what I wanted to do. And what I know how to do- with the knowledge I have gained and the few gifts I encompass- is to try to share the world around me, through these eyes of mine, with my words. And that? Well, that's the best I can do.
During any experience where groups of people are placed together for extended periods of time- whether it be professional, social or educational environments- each individual brings with them their distinct and oftentimes defining characteristics. In my MBA, every student was identified as something that set them apart, we were assigned roles- and whether these roles were truly representative of who we were or not, we were each labeled as something or another amongst our classmates- from the party planning duo, to Mr. consulting, the “operations ant,” the loudmouth, the most opinionated, the most altruistic, the hardest worker, the hardest partier, and so on and so forth…
My MBA identity was the girl with the blog, the girl who was put on the cover of the brochure, the girl who wrote the ESADE piece for BusinessWeek, the girl who worked on loads of cover letters and resumes for her classmates, the girl who edited the papers, the girl who writes. And I love that. Because I love to write. And part of me believes that had I not done an MBA- I wouldn't have been the girl who writes. It's the “big fish, small pond” syndrome.
An MBA program, any MBA- is filled with left brains- numbers people…logical, sharp, sane minds all capable of something distinctive- analytics, calculations, quants, evaluations, etc… Point is- not many writers are found immersed in an MBA. Had I gone in another direction- done something that came naturally to me, i.e. a masters in literary theory, art history, marketing…or whatever, there would have been plenty of people just like me- individuals who are creative, who can write well, who are illogical, messy, disorganized and overly emotional. I don't think I would have stood out the way I did- I would have had a different identity. What that is? I will never know- but that's not something I care to find out either, because I love my MBA identity. I love that I was “the writer.” And in a way- it validated me. It made it ok for me to not be like everyone else. It made it ok for me to be me.
I think what I am trying to say is that the MBA taught me something I never would have thought to expect or hope for. Beyond knowledge, know-how, beyond experience and wisdom- it showed me that I have never been wrong about my passions…it confirmed that what I have always done is what I do best. And it proved to me that I was right all along.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Ok, so I took a little hiatus- but don't get me wrong, just because the MBA is over- “I Bet Elephants Taste Like Mushrooms” lives on. I began the blog before the MBA and although I never aimed to be labeled an “MBA blogger,” my writing took its natural course and I did, in fact, become the ESADE MBA blogger- or one of them at least.
Now, however- and to my own chagrin- I am no longer an ESADE MBA student. I am not a student at all…I am unemployed. It’s quite a fine line, actually, between playing an active role in the academic system and unemployment.
I do have an MBA though- which is more than what I could have said for myself two years ago. And I plan to forge on in the world, as the same person I have always been- with the same goals and the same dreams and desires…only this time with all the knowledge that the MBA has brought me, somewhere in this brain of mine. Not so bad, right?
So as I sit on my couch in my new home in Rome (yes, I moved to Italy…more on that later)- I am sorting through the millions of emotions whirling around in my heart, while my weary head is working on grasping the fact that my life in Barcelona is actually over. The MBA is over. Everything I lived for the last two years is just a memory- but an amazing memory at that.
As for the time between the actual graduation and now- it’s been a frenzied whirlwind. I spent another few days in Barcelona- doing everything I should have done while I lived there but I was too busy “living there,” like visiting the Picasso museum and taking the two-hour trip out to Montserrat. And then I occupied myself doing everything I loved doing when I was living there “just one last time.” This time though, I dragged my sister along with me. We ate Maoz falafel in Plaça Reial, drank Cava Sangria at Cervezeria Catalana, and spent hours window-shopping while sipping Starbucks on Passeig De Grácia.
And in between doing everything either for the first time or the last time, I ended my memberships, closed my accounts and gave back my keys. I made numerous trips out to the recycling bin and disposed of finance books, old exams and term papers that took months to write but only moments to throw away. I packed my life into my dusty suitcases and donated whatever didn't fit to whoever would take it. I went to dinners and goodbye drinks. I sang karaoke once again with the same group that sang karaoke with me in Beijing last summer. I drank my favorite German beer with my favorite Germans and ate my favorite Indian food at the home of the best cook of the MBA, Saurabh.
I ran around for four days saying goodbye to everything and everyone that I have taken for granted over the last year and a half. Then, on my final night in Barcelona, outside of a bar at about 3:00 a.m., I couldn't take it any longer. The realization that the end had come and gone and it was finally time to move on- hit me like a ton of bricks. The knot in my stomach tightened, my throat closed off mid-sentence and my eyes started burning. While saying not “adios,” but “hasta luego” to a number of friends, I suddenly found myself in the middle of a street challenging my tears, in vain, to stay within their ducts. It could have been the alcohol or possibly the emotional exhaustion- or maybe it simply happened to be the moment that life decided to hit me with the truth- but I couldn't bear it any longer. I couldn't take any more pictures pretending to smile; I couldn't give any more hugs without feeling my body heaving with tears. I couldn't look into the eyes of any more familiar faces, not knowing when the next time we are together would be, and say goodbye. I just couldn't. So my sister put me in a taxi, I went home, finished packing and ineffectively attempted to sleep. A few hours later- I turned the lights off, took the Spanish SIM card out of my phone- and left Barcelona for one last time. And that was it.
It was a slightly bitter and exceptionally sweet end to one of the best chapters of my life. And even now- contentedly sitting in my beautiful apartment in Rome- commencing a veritable “vita bella”- I am filled with excitement, a bit of sadness and enough nostalgia to last a lifetime.
And as I mentally close one chapter, I am realizing, above all else, that I am ready for the next.