Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blogging Hiatus

Alas, I realize that I've been a delinquent blogger.

Darden gives us a generous four weeks of vacation. This is the official time off, anyway. There are four weeks between the official exam deadline and the start of J-week classes, so if you finish exams early and don't take a J-week class, you could potentially stretch it out by an additional two weeks.

While I wasn't lucky enough to avoid J-week classes, I did finish my exams early and have been on vacation now for nearly three weeks. In the past three weeks, I have visited the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, visited the DeSoto Caverns in Alabama (see previous blog post!), sunk my feet into the sand in the beach at Pensacola, visited every Disney World park and saw the Harry Potter world at Universal Studios. Just three days after walking around Universal Studios drenched from the water rides, I was back in freezing cold Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for Christmas.

Last week was a total blur of friends and family, but the highlight was my surgery... I can SEE now. Without glasses or contacts. If anyone is considering lasik, I highly recommend! I think my vision is now better than 20/20, something that contacts and glasses haven't been able to achieve in over 20 years. I take great delight now in both the crispness of everything I see and the fact that I don't need to put in contacts every morning.

Christmas came and went, and I now find myself back in my dearly beloved Canadian Rockies. My parents rented some amazing suites at the Grand Rockies Resort in Canmore as a base for our annual ski vacation. It's been absolutely luxurious and I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to ski, play board games and just get in some relaxed me-time.

Anyway, not that prospective Darden students really need to hear what I've been up to on vacation... I just want to encourage the first years who are undoubtedly using every spare minute to work on cover letters and practice interviews that second year really is awesome.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sweet (Someone Else's) Home Alabama


When I crossed the border into Alabama and entered the visitor information center, I knew that I was going to love Alabama. The people were so delightfully friendly that we decided we'd better make Alabama an actual stop on our road trip.

Spending the night in Birmingham, we found an amazing restaurant downtown called Twenty Six. For some reason, I was really hungry by the time we rolled in and the food was splendidly delicious.

This morning, we headed to our tourist destination of choice: DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park. Everything about this visit screamed "Alabama" to me. From the y'alls in the gift shop to the ghetto fabulous "rides" (see below) to the evangelistic light show.

The cavern tour, which was really quite neat, featured a Christmas themed water and light show.

Not only did the Caverns feature pedal go-karts, a bouldering wall, a bunch of cool rock formations, and the fudge from the "100 things to eat in Alabama before you die", but the lady in the gift shop was insanely friendly and offered to email me the photo they had taken of me and AB in the cave.

She recommended a BBQ restaurant on the way back to the highway, so we set off for Sylacauga for lunch. We were greeted by the friendliest people I've ever met... but the highlight was the waitress, who I'm fairly certain must have been close to nine months pregnant. Not only was the pork BBQ I had DELICIOUS, but I also got to try the southern treats my friends have raved about: fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and hush puppies. Needless to say, I've had enough deep fried whatever to last quite a while, but I'm glad I tried it!

The rest of the drive was beautiful, and all the ranch country reminded me of home. There was something so charming about the accents, the friendliness and the scenery. I love Alabama!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Snow-Covered Appalachians and Tennessee Sunsets


That is the sound of all the stress being let out of me.

The last few months have been filled with stressors, challenges and unknowns. I don't think I realized quite how tightly wound I was until I found myself VERY anxious to leave Charlottesville this morning.

But I got away safely and am now in Nashville, TN, staying at a hotel which my road trip companion, AB, describes as "the type of place people come after committing a crime." I guess it really isn't that bad, but after staying in hotels that companies have paid for every weekend for the past two months, it definitely seems ghetto!

It's been a really, really great day. I haven't been on a road trip in a year and a half, so this was well overdue. The first stop of the day brought us to the Pink Cadillac Diner, a restaurant suggested by AB who was there on a road trip over Thanksgiving. It was not to be missed - just picture a completely pink building in the middle of nowhere with a large statue of King Kong out front. The inside was equally entertaining.

During the afternoon, we drove through snow-covered Appalachian mountains. The scenery was amazing, and seeing all the cows on the hills actually reminded me of home. I have to admit that as much as I'll regret saying this in two weeks (when I'm home with snow and -30C), I do miss the snow.

We finished off the day with this:

Need I say more?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Signed, Sealed and Plunked in the Mail...

It's official.

After over 30 interviews, 7,993 airline miles, and countless recitations of my "tell me about yourself", I'm done. I signed my offer letter, placed it in the mail, and sent a PDF copy to HR.

I'll be heading to Boston in August to work for a consulting firm.

It's been quite the year. I've gone through all possible highs and lows with the recruiting process. I've stressed out to my wit's end and celebrated the milestones that kept me going along the way.

Now it's time for my final celebration in the process... Heading off to Disney World!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

30,000 Feet in the Air

Okay, so I know in-flight wifi is totally old news, but it's my first time using it.

I'll be honest - even if I have nothing of importance to communicate with anyone, it drives me crazy being on an airplane knowing that I don't have the option of communicating with the outside world. In fact, since getting a smart phone, I've started to pull my phone out the minute the plane touches ground (if I'm not already sneakily using it to read), and turning off airplane mode the minute the stewardess begins the announcement that ends with "it is now safe to turn on cellular phones" so my phone has reception as soon as possible. It's not that I'm particularly important or have anyone in particular to communicate with; I just like knowing that I can.

Anyway, in-flight wifi has solved the twitching that accompanies a long flight and the shut down of communication. While I can't talk on the phone or send text messages, I can use email, Office Communicator and the WhatsApp app on my iPhone. I can also send this - my very first post from the air.

This is kind of a monumental trip, as it is my very last final round interview trip. The past quarter has been filled with travel. With the exception of Thanksgiving weekend and the weekend my parents came to visit, I've been out of town every week. While I've enjoyed racking up my United Mileage Plus points and enjoying staying in hotels (I sleep better; the people living above me like to walk around at 1 a.m. and the ceiling creaks), it'll be nice to be finished with interviews.

Of course, I'm not finished with travel... in the last week, I've booked trips to Disney World, home, Colorado and China. I guess I can't get too excited that the end of living-out-of-a-suitcase is in sight.

Second year at Darden is awesome.