SMF Ice Skating

I recently enjoyed another of the famous SMF class dinners (the first of which I talked about in a recent blog post).  Once again, the turnout was great and this time, we even had several of our professors attend!  It was another great evening of chatting with people who we see in classrooms every day in a different setting.  However, the best part of the evening was yet to come…

After dinner, a large group of our classmates went to The Ohio State Ice Rink for ice skating!  The rink has times that the public is allowed to skate on the ice and students get a discount.  There were a ton of students there, most of whom were very graceful on their skates, and I think the SMFs stood out like a sore thumb.

Free Skate at the Ohio State Ice Rink

There were a very small number of experienced skaters in attendance from the SMF program, but that’s part of what made it so fun!  I’ve been skating just a handful of times in my life and I skate with the grace of a new born giraffe.  However, I did manage to stay on my feet the whole time (with the assistance of some strangers who I almost toppled over).   I can’t say the same for all my classmates, but for a lot of them, it was their first time skating and there were a lot of really quick learners.

Fear of falling on the hard ice bonds people like you can’t imagine

I really was very impressed by how willing everyone was to get out of their comfort zones and be such good sports the whole time.  It was great to get to hang out with the general student population and to get to participate with my classmates in somewhat of a holiday tradition in the United States.

Slow Cooker Sundays

I’m here to talk to you about one of the most important things I’ve learned in grad school: how to feed myself.  Now, to you, this may seem like something that a self respecting 23-year-old man should know how to do and you would be right.  However, I was fortunate enough to have access to a meal plan during my undergrad years and before I knew it, here I was in Columbus, hungry and alone.

At first, I followed my natural instinct and purchased pizza for every meal (this also happened last week – I’m a work in progress, okay?!), but as a self-respecting finance student, I realized that this is not the most cost-effective solution.  Plus, that much pizza is really not healthy for anyone.  The next phase in my culinary evolution was to just make sandwiches for every meal.  There are definitely some pros to this solution (namely simplicity and cheapness), but there are also some cons (namely sad taste buds).  Finally, I accepted the fact that I had been avoiding all along: I was going to have to learn how to cook.

While I wanted to learn how to cook, I still wanted to prepare food in the easiest way possible and a very real concern for me was that I didn’t have the time to cook a meal every single night between work and school.  Because of that, I felt like I would need to try meal prepping and once I made that realization, everything just fell into place (looking back, you can really see how destiny was guiding me the whole way).  All this time, there had been a hidden gem tucked away under the sink in my kitchen: the slow cooker I had been given for graduation.

My very first creation, shredded chicken adobo on rice

I attempted my very first slow cooker recipe the next Sunday, and just like that, a tradition was born – Slow Cooker Sundays™.  It was clear from my very first meal that I was a natural. A slow cooker savant if you will.

Disclaimer – not all food items in this picture were prepared with a slow cooker

I won’t lie and say that I haven’t stubbed my toe along the way with some not stellar outcomes (it was always the recipe’s fault), and I haven’t slow cooked every single Sunday, either. But what I am proud to tell you is that I am now capable of preparing a real meal, cooked low and slow.

If my post has inspired you, please post a picture of your slow cooker today!

SMF Class Dinner

Just a few weeks ago, we had our first SMF class dinner.  The SMF Council, one of the student organizations available to SMF students, organized a dinner for our whole class at a local restaurant, Hong Kong House.  The Council chose this location because there are many Chinese students in the program and Hong Kong House serves authentic Chinese food (apparently orange chicken from Panda Express doesn’t count).

Fellow SMF students at dinner

More than 40 students showed up for dinner, and I had a great time getting to chat with some classmates outside of Gerlach Hall.  I realized during dinner that I had been failing to take advantage of a great learning opportunity; being exposed to such a culturally diverse group of people brought up some fascinating conversations and exposed me to some new perspectives.  We ordered what seemed like endless plates of food to try, and I can honestly say that I liked every single dish that I tried… 

Look at all of the different dishes that we tried!

… although I found out part of the way through our meal that Cathy, one of my classmates, had asked to make the food much less spicy than it really should be.  She had noticed me chugging water during the first dish and kindly asked them to cool it down for my wimpy taste buds.

All in all, it was a really fun night and I’m really looking forward to our next class dinner!

Fall Break Reflection

Fall Break marks the halfway point of the first semester, and fall is definitely in the air in Columbus.  I went home to Oklahoma for the break to find 90-degree temperatures and a sunburn waiting for me, but when I stepped off the plane after returning to Columbus I needed to fish my coat out of my backpack to keep from shivering.  The stark change in temperature shocked me into realizing just how much time has gone by since I arrived here in August.  We learned the importance of self-reflection in our leadership class and I will likely use various markers and milestones in the program as opportunities to look back on my coursework– which is why I am here after all.

Professor Pinteris, the SMF program director, always refers to the program as a transformation and it really is true.  It’s easy to see the changes in my classmates from our first day of pre-term until now.  The most noticeable thing for me is how much more comfortable all of my classmates have gotten with speaking the “language” of finance.  I think that this is one of the really big benefits of using the case method in classes.  I personally have benefitted from this method a lot because I actually came into the program after going through an entire undergraduate program speaking rarely in very select courses.  Getting pushed out of one’s comfort zone is never easy, but participating in case discussions (which initially took a lot of willpower to do) became second nature for me by the end of the first round of classes.

Since most of the classes in the SMF Program are offered on a quarterly basis rather than a semester basis, I took finals in all but one of my classes right before fall break.  My return from break brings a new wave of classes, and I am very excited as I will begin coursework in our investments and derivatives classes.  Also, my team will begin work on the core capstone project which allows us to put much of what we learned in the first quarter to work in a relatively unstructured class.  I’m looking forward to the exciting new classwork ahead of me and already reaping the rewards from all that I learned in my previous classes!

My First Ohio State Football Game

I recently attended my very first Ohio State football game.  I have been a fan of college football for a very long time, and attending a game at Ohio Stadium has always been on my bucket list.  Because of this, when I enrolled in the SMF program, I knew I had to get season tickets.  In addition to my love for college football, I was really excited to be exposed to some of the traditions and pageantry associated with my new school, especially since football is so heavily ingrained in the culture of the university.

As a loyal Oklahoma State alum, I was extremely excited to watch Ohio State play the University of Oklahoma in football.  Rooting against my old school’s arch-rival was the perfect transition into Ohio State fandom, and I was extremely confident that I would finally get to watch “OSU” beat Oklahoma.  Unfortunately, anyone familiar with the Bedlam football series knows that Oklahoma is very accustomed to beating up on schools that go by the acronym OSU.  I’m sad to say that it was business as usual for Oklahoma, but while the game didn’t turn out how the home fans wanted, it was still a great all-around experience.

I had to wash my hands after touching the OU shirts.

Some of my friends from Oklahoma made the drive up for the game and stayed with me for the weekend.  We all did our best to get the full game-day experience at our first Ohio State football game.  Before game time, we stopped in at Varsity Club which was bursting at the seams with people.  After making our way out of the hubbub at Varsity Club and before heading to the stadium, we made sure to go take in a very unique tradition, “Skull Session.”   Skull Session was really cool and probably my favorite new tradition that I observed during the course of the day.  Overall, the atmosphere at the game was electric and it’s pretty tough to beat taking in a game with 109,000 other people.  I highly recommend an Ohio State football game to anyone who hasn’t been, and here’s hoping the Buckeyes get back on track in the weeks to come.

From OSU to tOSU

Hello World,

Blogging is a new experience for me and I thought that I would kick off this journey (both through the SMF program and learning how to blog) by introducing myself to anyone who will be following along over the next nine months.

My name is Nicholas Denker and I am a student in the SMF program at Ohio State also serving as an ambassador for the program.  In May, I graduated from Oklahoma State University with degrees in finance and accounting.

Me and Brutus on my visit to Ohio State

I am an Oklahoma native and in just a few days’ time, I will have lived in Ohio for all of one month.  While this might sound like the beginning of a bad movie, I grew up on a small family farm in Northwest Oklahoma.  The population of the largest town I had lived in before moving to Columbus was around 50,000 people.  Living in Columbus has been a big change, but so far I have loved everything about living in a “big city.”

Coming from Oklahoma to Ohio State might not sound like the most intuitive decision, but it ended up being a very easy one for me.  Grad school was something that I had thought about for a long time throughout my undergraduate studies, but I really made the decision to pursue a Master of Finance at the beginning of my senior year.  I was initially attracted to Fisher for its impressive ranking, but my visit to the awesome campus here is what sealed the deal.  All the people I interacted with were very welcoming– and taking a tour in the shadow of “the Shoe” was pretty awe-inspiring.

In typical millennial fashion, my main interests are sports, food, and music (I’m a walking stereotype, I know), and as I get the chance to explore my new city, you can expect blog posts on all of those topics and much more over the coming months.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I will keep you all informed every step of the way!