Winter Break Road Trip Adventure

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had great, relaxing and recharging holidays!

One of the great things about being in Ohio is how close we are to many cities that are easy to visit in a road trip. After I was done with my exams, a couple of friends from the program and I decided to take a three-day road trip to Nashville, Tennessee. I have heard great things from several people about that city so I was excited. I had the chance to visit Nashville very briefly when I was for a tennis tournament around three years ago but we did not get to explore much of the city.

My friend and I planned the road trip and we decided to stop at different cities along the way:

  • Yellow Springs, OH
  • Louisville, KY
  • Bowling Green, KY
  • Nashville, TN
  • Cincinnati,OH

The whole road trip was a blast, strongly recommended if you have three free days and a group of friends you want to have a good time with.

Part of the Road Trip – Parthenon in Nashville, a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens

Our fun little trip started by visiting Yellow Springs, which is a very colorful, chill and cute small town close to Dayton. We ate breakfast there and walked around the streets exploring different shops. The town had such a happy vibe (see below picture of the colorful trash cans) that we stayed exploring for around two hours.  Unfortunately, it was getting dark and we needed to make it to Louisville on time if we also wanted to explore the city there.

We left Yellow Springs around 3 p.m. and arrived at Louisville around 7 p.m. We were starving at that point so we stopped by a Vietnamese pho place to grad dinner. It was delicious! After dinner, we headed back to our Airbnb, which, by the way, had the best hosts we could imagine!

For day two of our trip, our hosts had some coffee and cookies available for breakfast before we took the road to head out to Bowling Green. One of our friends who was initially coming with us is a big car lover, why is why we decided to include the National Corvette Museum as one of our stops. Once we arrived, the place was not too fabulous thus we were a little bored and one man at the museum suggested us to go visit the Mammoth Cave.

The Mammoth Cave turned out to be a blast!

Mammoth Cave – part of the longest cave system known in the world

After our tour at the Mammoth Cave, we headed over to Nashville! We arrived quite late that day around 6 p.m. and were exhausted and almost decided to go back to our Airbnb and go to bed. But we were at Nashville, and Nashville is known besides its food for its fabulous nightlife so we pushed through it and ended up having the best time.


On our way back from Nashville, we stopped by Cincinnati, which is less than two hours from Columbus, and we regretted not having planned more time to visit. The city was so beautiful, especially at night. Cincinnati was our last stop before we returned home.

I came back to Columbus, Ohio recharged for this last semester of studies.


The End Is Near

I spent a part of this morning going through photos from the past year, and man, it is crazy how quickly these past eight months have gone. Reminds me of this old country song by Trace Adkins. As our email inboxes get flooded with graduation information, ways to purchase regalia, and other information regarding diplomas; graduation is starting to become a real idea indeed.

Looking back on these photos brought back great memories. For example, I remember our orientation and our Turbo Finance class, where I was planting the foundation of my current financial knowledge and getting to know my new classmates better. Another example is the numerous dinners that we went to as a class and all the great food and conversations we had.

My first team at Fisher

Fast forward to the Fisher Follies Auction event in the fall, to accepting my job, to traveling to NYC and meeting with the banks, to finishing out the first half of the program on a strong note. Christmas vacation was an awesome time to have some rest, start studying for the CFA exam, and begin to prepare for the second half of the school year.

Classmates and me in NYC in the fall.

Looking back on the past two months, I also did a lot of traveling: Denver, New York, Chicago, and Islamorada. It was awesome being able to enjoy these places with family, friends, and classmates. It was also nice to do a little traveling while I was still in school and before I started my job.

Skiing out in Denver at Keystone.

Now, we have just over one month left and I am going to cherish these moments a little bit more than the rest as I recognize that this is the end. We have a few more events planned, including the Fisher Follies Variety Show event and a few other SMF events. I am looking forward to this next month and walking across the stage with my classmates at graduation.

Innovation Israel Pre-Trek Meeting

Visiting Israel has been a lifelong dream of mine for quite some time. Because of this, you can imagine how excited I was to learn that Fisher was planning on offering a course this year that included a visit to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Of course, I signed up for the class.blog_telaviv

The class is centered around the economy and entrepreneurial spirit of Israel, specifically in Tel Aviv. Our instructor for the course was born and raised in Israel and has an incredible background in business and international consulting. As a student, I have really enjoyed learning about the Israeli economy and culture.

One way in which I was able to learn more about the culture was to attend a social gathering at the home of David and Bonnie Milenthal. The CEO and founder of Israel and Company attended the event, along with representatives of the Columbus Jewish Federation. We learned of their experiences and connections in Israel and had the chance to speak with them in a nice setting that allowed for a lot of learning to take place.

While in Israel, my class will visit various companies and organizations, ranging from global Fortune 500 firms to technology startups. Along with visiting businesses, the trip will include a visit to Jerusalem to see and learn more about the historic Israeli culture. I couldn’t be more excited for this amazing opportunity.

The Heart of it All

Time has still been flying by around here, and there has been lots of excitement.  Notably the end of our first terms, and our first round of exams.   Each semester at Fisher is divided into two 7 week terms, which means a new set of courses every 7 weeks, just to keep us on the bounce.  In addition to new classes, the internship search seems to be coming along, with people attending conferences out of state, second round interviews, and some starting to receive offers.  I had the chance to go to the MBA veterans conference in Chicago last week, which was a great opportunity to talk with companies specifically looking to recruit talent from top schools who are also veterans.

So, needless to say, life as an MBA student is still very busy, and requires proper time management.  That being said, life balance is still important, and students need to take time to enjoy life whenever possible.  As someone who is interested in supply chain management and operations, it hasn’t escaped my notice that there are a significant number of companies who have headquarters or distribution centers in the Columbus area, as well as Ohio in general.  Part of the reason for this is that a significant portion of the American population lives within a day’s drive of Ohio.  So while the state is not the geographic center of the country, it is in a strategic location for getting goods to customers.  In fact, I think one of the iterations of license plates the state used to have said “Ohio – the heart of it all.”

In keeping with the need for a healthy work-life balance, especially for people who haven’t traveled much within the U.S., Columbus is in a good spot for those who want to take weekend trips.  I consider about 6 hours (approx 350-400 miles) to be the most I would drive for a 2-3 day weekend trip and within that radius of Columbus are the following cities:

Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, OH

Pittsburgh, PA

Indianapolis, IN

Chicago, IL

St Louis, MO

Detroit, MI

Buffalo, NY

Washington, DC

Lexington, Louisville, KY

Knoxville, Nashville, TN

And those are just some of the bigger cities that I can think of off the top of my head, there are many more smaller cities, national/state parks, lakes and other attractions worth visiting within that radius as well.  As you can see, Columbus, Ohio really is rather well situated to serve as a base of operations for someone who wants to have access to a large portion of the U.S., which is another attractive attribute of the Fisher MBA program.


Hocking Hills: A Great Autumn Escape

Having spent practically my whole life in San Francisco, temperatures rarely fluctuate out of the 50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit range. The mild climate along with an abundance of evergreen trees creates the same landscape throughout all four seasons. It could as easily be raining in July as it could be sunny and warm in January. Thus, if you are visiting SF for the first time, make sure you pack an extra jacket regardless of the season. One of the many reasons why I chose to come to Columbus is to experience the different seasons of the year.

If you asked me about the beauty of autumn before I moved out to Ohio to start the SMF program, I would have told you that fall colors are a figment of some genius artist’s imagination and only appear on jigsaw puzzles. Earlier in November, after a grueling week of preparing for and taking two midterm exams and putting the final touches on a 10 week long group project, I was looking forward to taking a much needed break from studying my eyes out. I was ready to explore Ohio.  While asking around for suggestions, my hairstylist suggested a place about an hour drive southeast of Columbus.

My better half was visiting that weekend, so we decided to take the short road trip out there. We were so glad we did. We stopped by the Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills State Park. The trail was about a mile and half long and connected to a shorter path that led to some falls. The falls were just a slow trickle, which was most likely due to the hot and dry summer. The park was littered with fallen leaves of all different colors and we could not have asked for a more beautiful place to hike through. Hocking Hills has several other trails that range from a quarter mile through the George Trail in the Ash Cave, to two and a half miles through the Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail. When the weather gets better, we definitely plan on going back to check out what else the park has to offer.

Trekking through the Old Man’s Cave

The incredible i4 experience

The International Programs office has been hosting information sessions this week about the i4 programs for this upcoming year.  I had the pleasure of being a part of the i4 India class last year, and so I thought I would write a blog listing the reasons you should partake in an i4 class if given the chance.

1. You get to travel!

2. There is so much opportunity in emerging economies.  These opportunities span all of the business disciplines we have here at Fisher.  Meaning whether you’re a marketing guru or a finance fiend, you will be able to appreciate the content in the class, in addition to the travel.

3. Not to sound too cliche, but aren’t most of us here in an MBA program to “push ourselves,” “create new boundaries,” “try new things,” “see what we’re made of,” (etc)?  The i4 program, both class and travel, is an excellent way to do just that.  You will learn about a specific business environment in a new framework, you will get to travel (perhaps to someplace you’ve never been before), and you will create new friendships (the kind that can only come from traveling experiences!)

4. You get to go for 3 weeks!  It’s short enough that you will be back in time for an internship, but long enough to truly immerse yourself in the culture, the work, and the people.

5. Food.  Food food food.  Palak Paneer, Feijoada, or Bratwurst – it doesn’t matter which experience you choose.  You will be happily rewarded with yummy regional food.

6. What else are you going to do for May term?

So pick a country and sign up!  And if you have questions – contact the International programs office, the professors who are teaching the courses, or students who have traveled in the past!


With my i4 India friends, in front of the Taj Mahal

Jet Setter!

During my first two quarters in the WPMBA program, I only had to travel for work once – and it was during the three-week break between summer & fall quarters.  While that did mean I got a little “office fever”, it made things easier – I didn’t have to worry about missing class, group meetings, etc.  Well now, I do.  In the first four months of 2012, our marketing team is attending three trade shows and hosting our annual Sales Meeting and Customer Council – none of which are in Columbus.  I just got back from three nights in New York City for a trade show, then will head to Las Vegas in February for another three-night trade show.  Our Sales Meeting and Customer Council follows next in mid-March, also in Las Vegas (I know…you aren’t feeling bad for me!), and spans over 6 nights.  And finally, I’ll be heading to Dallas in late April for another trade show.

Whew!  I’m tired just writing all of that.  That may not seem like a lot to some of you, but I’m willing to bet at least a few of you find traveling while in school a bit tricky.  And keep in mind, this doesn’t include any weekend trips I have planned!  So, I thought I would give you some tips for how to travel during the WPMBA program:

1.  Try not to miss class.  I know this isn’t always possible, but try not to miss class when you can avoid it.  For this last trip I made to NYC, I worked it out with my manager to leave halfway through the last day of the tradeshow, so that I could fly back and still make it to class by 6 pm.  This means my co-workers had to tear down the booth without my help…so I’ll buy them a coffee to make up for it 🙂

2.  When you have to miss class, talk to your professors EARLY.  As luck would have it, our biggest meeting of the year – the Sales Meeting and Customer Council that spans 6 nights – is during winter quarter finals week.  I knew about this long before the start of the quarter.  When my professors emailed their respective syllabuses a week or so before class started, I contacted them right away to tell them about my conflict.  Both were appreciative that I notified them before the start of the quarter – and were willing to find an alternate time for me to take the final.  Finding time to study for those finals during the last week of class is another thing altogether!

3.  Prepare.  Whether your travel causes you to miss class or not, you are undoubtedly missing some regular study time.  The best way to combat this is to prepare, prepare, prepare!  Review your class syllabuses and pack the necessary material in your carry-on – you can read it on the plane or during some downtime in your hotel room.  If you are working on a group project, make sure to inform your classmates and complete any work before you leave town.

Do you travel for work?  What are some of your tips?


Travel Ails and Remedies

Over the winter, I wrote a blog about how to travel like a pro.  Unfortunately, sometimes airlines get in your way, no matter how big of a pro you are.  So here are my tips on how to get yourself from Point A to Point B when, as a student, you just need to get out of town, forget about your coursework, and go have some fun.

A little background first:  On a trip back from DC on USAirways, I ran into the most difficulties in a single trip I ever have.  Ever.  I was bumped (read forcibly removed) from a flight because I was one of the two last people to check in and the flight was overweight.  I was shifted over to Delta, which proceeded to cancel its flight.  I then got shifted back to USAirways, which then postponed its flight until 1AM.  I was at Dulles Airport for a grand total of 12 hours before I decided to just go home.  I received a flight voucher, which I then used to book a flight to NYC for this weekend.  The flight was delayed five times for Air Traffic Control reasons, which were not elaborated upon, and I decided again to just hop on a flight the next morning.  As a friend told me, “Fool me once…”

So here are my tips to make traveling a little easier:

1. Sign up for alerts from your airline.  I received a phone call and e-mail from USAirways every time they delayed my flight.  All four of them.  Even though your flight has been delayed, at least you can delay yourself from sitting in the airport ad infinitum.

2. If you do have trouble, find a rep.  This is a crap shoot. I lucked out and received a wonderful USAirways rep who got me rebooked for a flight the next day, had my bag pulled out and onto a carousel within five minutes, and she did it all with panache and a sense of humor.  She looked mean, so don’t judge a book by its cover, but restored my faith in humanity and in USAirways.  For now.  Look for Laura G at CMH.  She’ll do right by you.

3. Book your flights for as early in the morning as possible.  Airlines who have delay problems (I’m looking at you, USAirways, Delta, United, American, etc…) tend to keep getting backed up until what happened to me, happens to you.  Getting a flight as early as possible will circumvent this for the most part.

4. Complain, complain, complain.  The greasy wheel gets the grease, aka a flight voucher and probably a meal voucher.  Use at your own risk though.  Flying on an airline you get a voucher from is like getting waterboarded and then saying, “Please sir, could I have some more?”

5. Here’s my real solution to everything:  FLY SOUTHWEST.  I flew Southwest to Chicago, where I was going to be for a few days.  I decided to extend my stay by a day.  I changed my flight online, there were no change fees, I checked in two bags for free (after a shopping bender on Michigan Avenue doubled my luggage) and for $15 more, I was able to upgrade to business class.

6. Southwest business class gets you this: You are one of the first ten people to board, which means you can get one of the four seats in the front with the extra, super-deluxe legroom.  If you check in exactly 24 hours before your flight, you’ll likely be the very first.  It also gets you a free glass of wine, cocktail or Monster energy drink.  And next comes the most important part.

7. It gets you their Fly By Lane, available at most airports (not CMH).  I underestimated how much time I needed to get through security at Midway in Chicago.  The Fly By Lane let me almost literally fly by the 50 minute+ line at security, and go through the priority security line.  It took me five minutes to get through.

8. Even if you don’t do business class, you still get two bags checked for free (in addition to a carry on and personal item), a free drink, a snack and the peace of mind that your flight will leave on time.  The 24 hour check-in trick works for non-business class too.  Set an alarm for 24 hours before your flight, check in and you will almost certainly be in the A11-A30 group.

9. Southwest flies into outlying airports, and so you get to fly cheap.  I flew into Midway instead of O’Hare for Chicago, and fly into BWI instead of Dulles or National for DC.  The travel time between Midway and Lincoln Park is the same as O’Hare.  And I saved $150 on a comparable flight.  Very student budget-friendly!

10. The airport you choose when not on Southwest is also important.  Dulles, O’Hare and La Guardia tend to have the most problems with delays.

11. And no, I am not a spokesperson for Southwest, though I should be.  You can bet this blog will be posted on Southwest’s Facebook Wall in hopes that my kind and deserved words land me a free flight somewhere.  Business class preferably.

12. Update: My flight back to Columbus from La Guardia got off without a hitch, and even arrived half an hour early.  Well done, USAirways.  You’re 2 for 15 in my book now.  Southwest still rocks the most though.

My Winter Vacation

This is what I plan to do with my winter vacation:

1) Read.  But for fun.  Yes, I am a dork.

a) I’ll be re-reading “The Alchemist“, as I tend to do once or twice a year to remind myself of my personal legend and that I’m on the right track.

b) I’m going to try and read “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan, a definitive and expansive examination of the universe.  Like I said, dork.

c) I will NOT be re-reading “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” until after I’ve seen the second half of the movie.  The movies never live up to my imagination.

d) Kurt Vonnegut.  “Slaughterhouse Five” is next on my list.  For a good short, short story of his to ease you into the world of Vonnegut, try “Harrison Bergeron,” set in 2081 where 212th, 213th, and 214th Constitutional Amendments guarantee equality in the most extreme of ways.  Click the title for the full text.

2) Travel.  Hopefully for an internship interview (hint hint, internship deities.  I humble myself before thee), but mostly for friends and family.

a) Going to spend as much time with my long-distance boyfriend as possible.

b) We’re going home together to DC for our first Christmas together with my fam.

c) Then back to his place the week after for our first Christmas together with his fam.  Yes, I’m nervous.

3) Play video games.

a) Snake is on Facebook.  I’m trying to forget this until finals are done.

b) Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale.  If you’re an RPG fan, you’ll love this.  It’s about running one of those leet or fail item shops in the games that have those elusive items that you need to grind for hours and hours to afford but it’s totally worth it.  Did I mention I’m a dork?

c) Install Wine.  Wine is a program that you can install on your Mac or Linux machine that allows you to play certain Windows games without having to partition your drive and install Windows.  FTW.  I’m also a nerd.

4) Eat and Cook.

a) I’m going to make a stuffed, savory pumpkin.  Click on the dish for the recipes.

b) I hate Rachel Ray, but doesn’t a triple chocolate-coconut refrigerator cake sound good?

c) And one of my all-time favorite soups, minus the apricots, is a curried sweet potato soup.  Super easy, super warm and hearty.  I recommend it thick so it’s a bisque-like consistency.  Just stir less of the broth back into the puree and serve with some crusty, buttered bread.

5) Finally, work out.  You didn’t think I was gonna spend a whole month just cooking, eating, and sitting on my ever-expanding rear end reading and playing video games all winter did you?

a) Hip-hop abs.  This guy rivals Tony Horton (P90X guy) in the annoying realm, but the work out looks fun and it’s a nice switch.

b) Insanity.  As in, if I am struck with insanity, I may try this vomit-inducing work out.

And that’s it!  Hopefully I will return to OSU with a fresh, clear mind and lots of fond memories to sustain me through the grueling winter quarter.

Happy Holidays everyone, good luck with finals, and see you next year!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas … advice if you’re driving home for winter break

I have certainly been enjoying the “Indian Summer” we all have been experiencing this fall season.  Its definitely been nice not having to bundle up like an Eskimo around mid-October like I did every year of my life living in South Dakota.  As much I miss SoDak, I don’t miss the 2 seasons (summer and winter), the sub-zero temperatures or the too-early snow storms.   Now, when I got out of bed this morning, I noticed some snow.  And surprisingly enough, I was excited!  As much as I enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather throughout fall, I was really hoping to see snow soon – and I got my wish this morning.  With Christmas fast approaching, I feel seeing snow helps me get into the Christmas spirit.  Now I can officially say Frank Sinatra style, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere I go”.

Last year, I traveled to SoDak to spend Christmas with my family.  Knowing that I was going to drive home, I knew I had to keep a watchful eye on the weather.  For me, getting stranded on a highway is not the way I would want to spend the holidays.  But, as luck would have it, I got to experience not one – but two – blizzards during my two week Christmas break.  I survived the first blizzard by driving for 4.5 hours through 3 states (Ohio, Indiana & Illinois).  Thankfully I am accustom to driving in lot of snow or I think I would’ve ended up in the ditch like countless others on I-70W.  The second blizzard I experienced a week later immobilized me.  I got stuck for 3 days at my parents house with temperatures plummeting to a record low of -30 degrees.  For those of you who are curious, I attached a pictures at the end of this blog to prove it.

Stupidly, I find myself in a similar situation…again.  I have officially decided to drive home for the holidays.  I wanted to fly, but my desire to go hunting clouded my judgment.  I’m hoping (fingers-crossed) that I don’t have to go through what I did last year.

So, for those who may be traveling over the holidays, I wanted to provide a few fun holiday traveling tips.  Here it goes!

1. Make sure you have a winter survival kit in your car (i.e. blanket, candles, non-perishable food items, a change of clothes, magazines, books, etc). It will save your life, people.

2. If you are driving, make sure you stop at one random exit/pit stop along the way.  For example, the world famous “Wall Drug” and “Free Ice Water” signs in SoDak attract 1 million people every year – and its only because of curiosity.  I’m sure wherever you are going, there has to be a “largest ball of string”,  “grandpa’s cheese barn” or “world’s largest gopher/jackalope farm” along the way to stop at.  Trust me, it will probably be worth it.

3. Take plenty of potty breaks.  No more explanation needed.

4. Don’t forget to bring your iPods (and a car charger too).  I’d go crazy without it.  Plus, make sure to bring plenty of Christmas music on a CD or iPod.  I prefer Frank Sinatra myself.

5. If your iPod’s battery runs low because you didn’t bring a car charger, tune to any AM talk radio show and call in.  Even if they are talking about balancing our nation’s budget, I’m sure you’ll be one of three listeners that call call in and add absolutely NO VALUE to the discussion.  Plus, it’s funny.

6. Stop at a sketchy gas station and while you are filling up, decide to eat some of that crazy gas station food that is always ‘conveniently’ sitting on the front counter when you pay.  Try a rotisserie brat, some heat-lamp warmed pizza or the popcorn left out for everybody.  But if you really want to be daring, I suggest the random stuff like turkey gizzards, chicken necks/feet, 3 foot beef jerky sticks, salted nut rolls (my favorite) or…wait for it…the “country” homemade canning jars that contain pickled eggs or something.  If you find one of those, you hit the J-A-C-K-P-O-T.

7. If all else fails, just sing in the car.  Heaven knows we’ve all seen plenty of wackos having a Britney Spears  moment on the interstate.  Why not let it be you…in some random state…driving??  Just sayin’.

And, now, the ‘coup de grace’ (ha, maybe there is a pun intended here…)

The moment I cross the SoDak border, I will be lock and loaded.  My Remington 870 will be ready to shoot any unassuming pheasant I cross paths with.  Look out birds.  I’m coming.