Life in New York is just so real

Afb029Spotted on Fifth Avenue: Life in New York is just so real. And I think that sort of sums up my experience: my life in New York was so real too! Following RsR’s lead, I also feel the need to write down a short review of my time in New York.

Highlights:
* NYC itself. What a fabulous city. I love the energy, the city really truly never sleeps, I love the museums (see left for a phone photo from the Guggenheim which I visited the other day), the shops, the street life… London is still the love of my city-life (well, after my hometown that is), but I’ve fallen in love with New YorkAfb013
* Advertising Management course, which was well taught and I learned so much. Never knew that advertising could be so interesting!
* Travel. I had the opportunity to go to Washington, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco and I loved all of them, albeit in different ways. If I had to choose, I would say that Seattle was my favourite this time around.
* Being in the Thanksgiving Day Parade!
* The time I had to take a step back and think about what I want to do career-wise and life-wise. Being on a different continent helped me get my head straight in a number of areas.

Not-so-high-lights:
* the Subway… well, that’s kind of a mixed bag. It’s dirty and takes forever to get somewhere and the trains at night are very infrequent. BUT: it’s cheap and runs through the night (Ken Livingstone: idea for London?)
* the food. Although I’ve had some really nice food in the US and New York, I think that overall the quality and availability of good and relatively cheap food is better in Europe

All in all, I am soooo glad I did the exchange. It was one of the reasons I choose to go to LBS, and like the rest of my MBA experience it was wonderful in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I would highly recommend an exchange if your MBA offers it. It will open your mind and adds a nice icing on the MBA cake.

I’m on my last few hours in New York. Done with the xmas shopping (all that’s left now is to find something to read on the plane), done with academics. Tonight we’re meeting up with a few people for dinner, and then tomorrow it’s off home to my parents. There might be snag there though, since I’m traveling on BA via London to Amsterdam. And fog is keeping planes on the ground in London. So everyone send me good travelkarma so I can be home for Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very merry and peaceful Christmas!

Blogalize

Afb0028One of the tendencies that I’m noticing in the US is how some people throw around -lize like it’s Sinterklaas candy. Verbalize and visualize I am used to, but it seems that every verb here can be -lized. Write-alize, threatenalize… I see a whole new class of words poppalizing up and wonder when they’ll materialize in the Oxford English Dictionary (or maybe they already have and I’m too old fashioned in my English and I should catch-up-alize).

Today I sat the last exam of 2006, Entrepreneurial Finance, which was probably also the hardest, since I missed a few classes and worked hard to catch up. And to be honest, mezzanine finance and leveraged buyouts and fulcrum securities don’t come naturally to me. But it’s done now and I’m a free woman again! Strangely enough exams are kinda cathartic, in a pseudo-sado-masochistic kinda way… It’s nice to have an official closure I suppose. Plus you never learn more than when prepping for an exam. And I’ve used my skills in lean-and-mean cribsheet making (I wonder how that will look on my CV) again, which was fun (yes, fun, I like making cribsheets)!

Big shout out to the R1 applicants (assuming that there are R1 applicants reading this), I know the decision is coming soon, hang in there, it’s tough having to wait, but it’s almost decision time! And for the R2s: good luck finishing the application!

[edit: thought about taking out the sado-masochistic, since I’ve been getting strange hits through Google, but didn’t. Type in cocaine and Amsterdam and I’m on the 4th page… And I’m the least likely source when it comes to either of those, let alone the combination!! Just realised that talking about this will probably boost my rankings again… rats. Doomed if I do, doomed if I don’t.]

Please refrain from dancing

Afb007The Stern International Office were so kind to throw all the outgoing exchange students a drinks reception in a nice bar a few blocks from School on Thursday. And in that bar was the sign on the left. Apparently, New York has very peculiar liquor licences, where there are strict differences between clubs (where you CAN dance) and bars (where you CAN’T dance). But what I was wondering about is who’s enforcing this? I’ve not seen a policeman come into a bar and check whether anyone was dancing. And when is dancing dancing? Is tapping your foot dancing? How much of your body needs to move in order to qualify as dancing?

Afb004_2I’ve got 3 more exams and a small project left before I’m done with my academic work at Stern this semester, and I’ve slowly started to look around for Christmas gifts for my family. We will celebrate Sinterklaas (December 5th, which is when Dutch kids get gifts from Sinterklaas, a cousin of Santa and Father Christmas) at Christmas this year and when I saw the gift on the left I was so tempted to get it for my brother… but it won’t fit in my suitcase :-(

Today held a first for me: I had my first complete macrobiotic meal. Never had it before, was never really sure if I wanted to, but miss M and I went and tried it today. And it was good! I had vegetable tempura as a starter (*love* tempura!!) and pad thai for main course. Tasty, good and not very expensive: my kind of meal!

Thankful

_40566621_sponge_afp300Wow. A few days after Thanksgiving, and after everyone has shopped til they dropped on Black Friday, and all of a sudden it’s Christmas everywhere! Someone flicked a switch, and now there are xmas-tree vendors on the streets, xmas muzak in all the stores and I’ve already seen the first tree ornaments on sale. I guess what surprised me so much is that before Thanksgiving, there was not a sign of Christmas anywhere, and now it’s everywhere. In the Netherlands, Christmas (and Sinterklaas, which is on December 5th) sort of slowly creeps up on you and here it came with a bang.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I should first report back on how my Thanksgiving was. The parade rocked!! We got up at 5.15, to start helping out with getting the marching bands in the right order for the Parade. It rained and it was cold, but once we got going, we didn’t really notice it, although I felt sorry for some of the bands, who were not dressed for cold and rain and suffered. But once the whole thing got going at 9.02am, everyone perked up. We walked in the parade as escorts to the Airforce Band, which was a hoot. Unforgettable. And yes, I did say thanks on Thanksgiving day (I have so much that I’m thankful for in my life). And no, I didn’t have turkey. But I did have a great burger with mashed potatoes. And a nice hot shower at the end of the day.

The academics have heated up a bit, in the next 2.5 weeks I have 3 exams and 3 big projects due. So I’m trying to work hard to finish those, and then I’ve got an extra 10 days or so before my plane will take me home to celebrate Christmas with my family. I can’t believe it’s almost time to leave NYC again and I’m doubling my efforts not to take it for granted and enjoy myself as much as possible.

Ssssssh… strictly NDA

14375029_5d2c0ddba3Birthday came and went, and it was a blast! We had dinner in a nice Asian restaurant (although the service left a little to be desired, they tried to coax us into eating a two course meal and cocktails in a speed that would make the Guiness Book of Records… apparently this is very typical in New York) with a few friends, and then set off for drinks with the entire exchange student community at Stern (and some from Columbia). It was fab, and it took me a while to recover over the weekend.

On Sunday I went along to the Hilton (by the way, if all this sounds familiar, it’s because RsR beat me to it telling the story) to help the LBS admissions team out with an MBA fair. I love doing these (although I hated them when I was applying), I get to talk to so many interesting people, and the questions are so different over here from those in the UK. The biggest difference is that people kept on mentioning ‘international business’, and I couldn’t figure it out. No one I know at LBS ever says they want to do ‘international business’. And then it hit me. All business at LBS IS by definition international. But I guess that must be interesting if you live in a country where you can easily go days without hearing any news from outside the US (and I don’t mean to cause offense by saying that). 

Another thing I did on my birthday was start my shadowing project. Yes, I know that’s kinda late, but I was too busy trying to survive throughout my first year to really give it much thought. And then when I gave it thought, I wanted a really cool person. Luckily, a friend at School helped me out and put me in touch with my shadowee, and she’s everything I was looking for. She works in the online space (check), on the consultancy side (check), and is a very interesting person to observe and learn from, since she is not your typical cookie-cutter manager (check). Ticks all my boxes, and I am very happy with my shadowing project (but obviously, for Non Disclosure Agreement reasons, can’t reveal any more than this)(but I’m jumping up and down with luck that I found such a cool shadowee, although the location comes nowhere near the spectacular shadowing experience that Nick had). Three more days to go next week, and then a manic rush to finish the project and send it off before the October 2nd deadline.

Spotted in the supermarket

Afb0363Chicken-feet. I’m not quite sure what to do with them though, I mean, I don’t have any recipes and couldn’t think of any, so I didn’t buy ‘em. But they were definitely worthy of a picture.

Last night I discovered that I’d only picked up the first half of the casepack that I need for my Entrepreneurial Finance course (which is going pretty well and is very interesting), so I trekked to the NYU bookstore again today. And discovered that I probably needed a couple more books for other courses (why they don’t have a checklist in the bookstore that you can tick off??), so there went another $240, which bought me a casepack, a CD rom, and 3 books (one book was a whopping $145, maybe I should reconsider my career choice and become a textbook writer!). One book that looks promising is ‘Truth, Lies and Advertising. The Art of Account Planning‘ by Jon Steel, which is supposed to be one of the best books in this field. I’ll keep you posted as I read it.

Summer has only just ended (weather wise, we’re still in summer in New York), and I’m already working on what I’ll be doing fulltime. I’m still undecided yet if I want to pursue an idea that I have for my own business, or if I want to go work for a company. Both have its own charms and I can’t decide between them, yet. But it can’t hurt to get my CV into shape, and keeping my eyes open for an opportunity.

Same language, completely different experience

Afb0342[on the left, a hotdog with sauerkraut from Nathan’s World Famous Hot Dog stand on Coney Island].

JeffD left a comment saying something to the effect of ‘it’s the same language, it can’t be that hard’, and to be honest, I sort of thought the same thing. But even though it’s the same language in both the UK and the US, there’s still a fair number of words/expressions/things that have me stumped. What, for instance, is bubble tea (they were out of it at the cafeteria, so I haven’t been able to try)? And what is french laundry? And why do they call the main course ‘entrees’ (which means ‘starter’ in French)? And what does a company called ‘Geico’ sell? It’s like being in a whole new country and city… hang on, I AM in a whole new country and city! And I’m loving it :-)

What I love about Stern is that it’s slap bang in the middle of the NYU ‘campus’ area. It’s not really a campus, but it feels that way and buzzes with energy. And there’s so many interesting stores around (including a Dean & Deluca… yummie!).

Afb0192Last Thursday my London housemate’s sister, who’s an artist, took a small group of us around Chelsea for gallery openings (there were at least 75 of them, of which we saw about 20… in 2 hours time!!), which was fabulous. If you like art and/or people watching, I can highly recommend trying to find the listings for gallery openings in Chelsea and coming along. Very very interesting.

On Friday, my co-exchange student from LBS and 2 other exchange students went to Coney Island, which was a bit deserted, but still very nice. The sun was out, the hotdogs (see top left) good and it was a great day to spend at the beach.

Yesterday, I trekked to the Whitney Museum of American Art, mainly to see the Edward Hopper paintings and I wasn’t disappointed. They did a great job in showing his drawings too, so you can see what happened before he painted the real thing.

Last, but not least, but for fear of sounding trite, it’s the 5th anniversary of September 11th today, and I watched (and shed a tear for so much unnecessary loss) the news of the memorials this morning. It’s strange being in New York on this day.

First day of school

Afb0064In the Netherlands, we have a word for when you are in the first year of secondary school. You’re called a ‘brugpieper’, and are typically lugging around a backpack weighing almost as heavy as yourself, have a lost look on your face and feel like an idiot half the time because you everyone else seems to know what they’re doing and you’re not. Apart from the bag (I’m moved on to a nice stylish handbag which fits my Johnnie (*Mac laptop) and the rest of my bits and bobs), I feel exactly like that. Stern is very different from LBS, much less of a small campus where everyone knows each other, and more a place where people come in for lectures and then jet off again. Or at least, that’s my perception now.

Afb0153Alright, let me start at the beginning. I’ve had two classes so far: Entrepreneurial Finance and Advertising Management, both of which I really liked. Classes are pretty similar to LBS, no surprises there. It took me a while to find the classrooms (the grand idea behind the numbering is as of yet still lost on me… I still haven’t been able to find my locker, or toilets on the 2nd floor and I can’t seem to remember which lifts to to the 6th floor and up and which don’t), and there’s a lot of Americans in the classroom (duh, I know, but I’m used to a very diverse class nationality-wise, so that’s very different). Cases are NOT free here, I shelled out $240 for 3 casepacks, see the picture at the beginning of this paragraph). I’ve got most of the paperwork for the visa, immunization and health care insurance out of the way, and I’ve got a cellphone (very clonky Nokia). So I think I’m sort of set.

So here’s what I like so far:
* the city
* the classes
* my apartment
* some of the food (like the lunchplace across from Stern who do great soups)
* my exchange classmates

Here’s what I don’t like that much:
* the Kaufman Management Center building, whoever designed it should be punished by having to attend classes! The layout is illogical and there’s not a lot of common space to hang out.

The city that never sleeps

Big_apple_closeup And I slept my eyeballs out! I hadn’t realised exactly how tired I was (which explains the grumpiness of the last few weeks), the last few months have been quite hectic, all through my own doing, I admit that freely. I took on a little too much to handle and I didn’t realise it till it was too late (mental note to self: plan a little more free time in the weekends!). With the internship and traveling or having visitors every weekend, I was left with little time to reflect and sit back, and I’ve made a few stupid mistakes because of that. Ah well. Lesson learned.

Today’s my first day of school at Stern, and I’m excited about being a student again. The course I’m taking looks really interesting (Entrepreneurial Finance) and I’m curious to see what the courses here are like compared to LBS. I’ve settled in nicely, the housing situation is sorted, and I’ve done some of the essentials (get a mobile phone, oh sorry, I should say cell phone now, check in at the Office for International Students to be bored to no end about visa requirements, meet up with other exchange students and friends and visit 5 supermarkets in 5 days!). And I’ve slept. And slept and slept. So now I’m ready and rearing to go!

Done a runner

Afb0012Well, not really, although this afternoon I felt like doing a runner (window display on the left is from Selfridges), I’ve been so busy and I just got fed up with it. So what did I do? Get a peptalk from Al (again, he’s becoming my resident shrink), and go shopping. Well, actually the shopping was on the agenda anyway, I’ve got a company presentation tomorrow and needed a pair of new shoes. We’re in our final two weeks of the first year and this Saturday we have a Information Management final followed by the Asian night (think sumowrestling meets karaoke, it should be a blast and I can’t wait) and next week Saturday the Management Accounting final. And then it’s off into the working world again (well, not yet for me, I haven’t accepted an internship offer yet).

I heard the MBAT guys and gals had a blast and best of all: they brought back the trophy to LBS! See the other 2007/6 blogs for more information (blogroll on the left, sorry, I’m lazy today).

Slowly but surely I’m also prepping for my second year. I’m trying to squeeze everything out of the elective portfolio. The idea is to go for equal measures of inspiration (design and innovation courses, and Creativity and Personal Mastery, more about that course soon) and practical application (how to write a marketing strategy, how to execute this strategy, how to write a business plan, negotiation skills etc) and I don’t have enough room in my portfolio! The second item on the second-year-to-do list is to get my paperwork fixed for my autumn stay at Stern in New York, with visa applications in the works, and my measly transcript accompanied by a horribly picture is on its way to NYC. Can anyone recommend a great burger place AND the best place to get cheesecake in New York?

Bright Lights, Big City

NEW YORK CITY!!!! After a whole day of anxious email refreshing, late yesterday afternoon came the news: I’ve been offered a spot on the exchange with NYU’s Stern School of Business! Yippie! I’m going to live in New York for three months :-). The first book I ever bought was a Berlitz travelguide to New York, so I’ll try and dig that up from the mountain of boxes in my parents’ attic and take that with me. New York, baby, here I come! I’m so excited, I was literally jumping up and down. Now I’ll have to decide when I’ll go: autumn or winter, depending on when which courses are taught where and if I can bring myself to spend time in a fr**king cold NYC winter.
Congrats go out to RsR too, he’s got a place at Columbia, well done my man!

Another piece of trememdous news is the B I got in Finance. For some people that might be somewhat disconcerting, not to get an A, but for dedicated followers of this blog, you know how much I struggled with Finance (see here and here). So I’m so glad I made it in one piece!

Yesterday turned out to be a bit of a weird and strangely cosmpolitan day. With my application for a dream internship due (tick), waiting for the exchange results to come out (tick), doing a lot of research for our next assignment on the Adventures in Management Innovation course (tick), doing a lot of research for my upcoming Paris trip (8 days and counting down) (tick), going grocery shopping in the Japanese Store on Piccadilly with a Japanese friend (tick) and going out for dinner at an Iranian restaurant with my studygroup to catch up (and hearing that some of them have secured great jobs: congrats guys, I’m so proud of you! For those not so lucky: the best is yet to come) (tick) it was kinda cosmopolitan. I think I touched, experienced and was exposed to at least half of the United Nations countries yesterday and I spoke four different languages (one of them, Japanese, poorly). What’s that saying again? ‘Variety is the spice of life’ and it’s true!