Friday, October 26, 2012

Gelato Adventures

I’m proof that you can live in Charlottesville without a car.  Although I should note that my last trip to the grocery store was quite interesting given that I hadn’t been for the past three weeks thanks to a packed end to Term 2.  I ended up walking my bike home from the store with a backpack, and two large bags stuffed with what felt like the heaviest load of groceries I’d ever bought.  So I’m not going to say it’s easy, but through a combination of walking, biking, Zipcar, cabs, and getting rides from friends, I get by just fine without the added expense of a car. 

However, after being stuck in either my apartment or a learning team room for the four and a half days of exams, I was itching to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather and the gorgeous foliage and views around Charlottesville.  Without a car, I was relegated to walking around Darden and the rest of UVA.  Even though campus (or rather “grounds,” as I’m supposed to call it) is pretty spectacular, I had seen most of it already on my morning runs.  I was dying to get out and see the Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive, a famous road along the ridge of the mountains that offers amazing views, especially as the leaves are changing.
Then my classmate, Andrew, came to the rescue.  I met Andrew in our pre-matriculation accounting class, where he provided some real-world explanations for the concepts we were learning based on the gelato shop he owns and operates in nearby Staunton, VA.  One of my favorite parts of our classes is hearing about my classmates’ work experiences.  Invariably someone in the class has had an experience with the concept we’re learning about and hearing how they handled it provides some really valuable and relevant perspective for how we as a class might consider approaching the case at hand.  But back to the rescuing…

Trolling the class Facebook group, as I’m wont to do almost hourly, I noticed that Andrew had offered to take anyone interested on a trip over to his gelato shop, which involved a drive over the mountains.  I jumped at the thought of the beautiful drive and delicious gelato at the same time!  Twenty minutes later, Andrew, Ken (another classmate), and I were on our way to the picturesque little town of Staunton.

Downtown Staunton, VA
Ken and Andrew
 Andrew first took us to an awesome toy store, owned by the mother of his business partner.  I had a hard time not buying everything in sight.  In the end, I couldn’t resist this awesome purchase:

My favorite new running accessory
Awesome little toy store

Then Andrew walked us over to his shop, The Split Banana.  It’s got a really cool vibe that combines a classic, small town ice cream shop with a modern and trendy twist.   

From inside The Split Banana
After tasting several of the flavors, I settled on one scoop of pumpkin pie and one scoop of espresso biscotto—the perfect combination of fall in my mouth. YUM.

So many possibilities!

On the way back to Charlottesville, the sun began to set and light up the already orange trees.  We pulled off at a scenic overlook so I could snap a few pictures.  I was very thankful for the opportunity to explore outside of the Darden grounds.
Ahhhhh, fall!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Exam Haze

Taken on the first morning of exams...beautiful even in the gloom of fog and finals:

Flagler Courtyard

Since exams ended, the weather has been absolutely spectacular.  More photos to come!

Friday, October 12, 2012


So I said last time that Darden keeps us pretty busy. I’m not enrolled at any other business school (obviously), so I can’t give a firsthand comparison.  However, I can certainly confirm The Economist’s claim that Darden is “well known for…its high workload in the early stages of the full-time MBA.”  But hey, that’s one of the reasons I came here.  I’m paying to be pushed hard so I can learn as much as possible.  (And apparently, I’m not the only one that thinks that, since The Economist ranked Darden #3 in their global list of full-time MBA programs!)

This is all great, but there’s one pretty big side effect:  faced with classes, nightly learning team meetings, recruiting for summer internships, clubs, Darden Cup*, and other social events, there’s a pervasive fear of missing out.  FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is perhaps one of my favorite memes that’s come out of the last year, because it so accurately describes the feeling I have constantly.  Finish preparing the Marketing case for tonight’s learning team meeting or go to a meeting to hear about the Global Business Excursions?  Call an alum at a company I want to work for or go to the Decision Analysis review session for the exam?  Go to Cold Call** to unwind after a long week with a free beer and dinner “light snack” of lasagna or take a nap before TNDC?**

The most common time I’ve had FOMO this fall has been on Friday nights.  For the past several months, I’ve been training for the Baltimore Marathon.  That means that every Friday night, I go to bed by 10 so that I can get up the next morning at 5 am or so to meet with a group for a long run around Charlottesville or the surrounding counties.  Even though I’m normally exhausted by the time Friday night rolls around, I would normally much rather go out with classmates than go to bed early. 

But training for this race is really important to me because I’m running it for my Grandpa.  A few years ago, he passed away after a very painful battle with Leukemia.  I am fundraising and training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training to help find a cure to blood cancers.  Every four minutes, someone in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer, and every ten minutes, one of those people loses their battle with one of these cancers. 

Tomorrow, I will run the Baltimore Marathon and while I’m struggling up the hills of the last 9 miles, I will be thinking of my Grandpa.  Together with the other 500,000+ Team in Training volunteers around the country, I will be fighting to prevent the pain my grandfather experienced and the immense grief my family felt from his loss.  And for this, I will gladly go to bed early.

If you’re interested in learning more about my training or donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, please visit my training blog.

*One of my favorite things about Darden.  All five sections of the first year class compete in events throughout the year, including softball, flag football, trivia, and a men’s high-heeled race (sponsored by the Graduate Women in Business and Gays, Lesbians, and Allies at Darden clubs), to name the competitions we’ve had so far.  There is FIERCE (but friendly) competition and everyone gets really into it.  Section E, which I have been lucky enough to be randomly selected for, is the reigning champ, having won for the past four years.  Section E alums, second years, and professors have been clear from the beginning about how much pressure we face (from them) to continue the dynasty.  We won’t let Section B get in our heads with their weird traditions surrounding a ragged stuffed bird or their wildly inaccurate comparisons of Section E to Slytherin House.

**Just a few of the social events put on by the Darden Student Association.