Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Day To Give Thanks

Who better to wish us all a happy holiday than the Section B bird:

The Bird is living it up in Florida right how; thanks to Colin for the photo!

Happy Turkey Day y'all!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nail Polish and the Art of Zen

Can one person seriously be cold-called to start class two class days in a row? Seriously?

Apparently you can if you're me.

Don't know if Professor Lipson forgot that he's called on me, or if I blew the last cold-call worse than I thought. But today, it went fine. The main difference between this week and last week being that I had a nice (very!) quiet weekend at home. Spent the time catching up on readings that I had glossed over, and really concentrating on the week ahead. So this time, I was ready.

It was really nice to have some time to myself. That's one piece of advice I wish I had been given back at the beginning of the year, so I'll emphasize it here now: make sure to make room for "me time." Sometimes, at least for me, I need to back away from being social or trying to accomplish everything at once, and just spend some time alone to re-center myself; whether that's cooking, reading non-case stuff, or doing my nails.

In the midst of all the craziness of schoolwoork, homework, and all the other kinds of work, sitting down to paint my nails has almost a zen-like calming effect on me.

Maybe it's because it involves sitting down, with no distractions, putting my hands on the table, painting each nail meticulously and waiting for everything to dry. And that's ten minutes that I'm not forced to think about anyone or anything else, worry about what I have left to do, or when I'm going to sleep.

And perhaps that's the key - maybe sometimes you just need to shut it all out, only to return a short while later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

With Deference to Judy Blume

Are you there, God? It's me, Sania.

I get it. You're trying to tell me something here. I need to suck it up and get better at this. This is not a surprise to me.

After a fumble this morning, I slipped and fell during Finance class too. Was that really necessary? You're really not telling me anything I don't know.

What is a surprise to me is how immediately my mind goes blank when called upon to answer a question that I'm not expecting.

Finance wasn't about not understanding the calculation; you and I both know that I do. I guess I didn't put enough effort into remembering and understanding where the numbers came from.

And maybe that was the jolt back to reality I needed. I'm not here to learn equations that I'll never use again. It's about understanding the principle. I'm obviously not quite there in Finance.

I'll work on it. Thanks.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

I'm falling under. Had to attend to a family emergency at home in New York this weekend, and managed to fall behind in my readings and simultaneously increase my sleep debt. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

I've been dropping every ball thrown at me this week. Passed on a cold-call in Accounting, and fumbled a cold call on an Economics case overview. And we're only halfway through the week! I've probably hit a serious personal all-time low.

We're at a point in the quarter where it's becoming increasingly more important to keep up. Unfortunately, that time also coincides with the beginning of resume drops and the peak period for alumni networking. Throw another wrench into that mix, whether it's a personal matter or an illness, and you've just got chaos.

I'm in awe of my classmates who manage to balance a personal life, case challenges, clubs, family, and always put on a flawless performance in class. (Some of them are my fellow bloggers - how do you guys do it?!?)

But this week so far has been a wake-up call. Now that I've recovered from my sleep debt (overslept yesterday and missed first class - ugh), I need to shift into overdrive. There's only a short time until quarter-end and final exams -- 2.5 weeks! -- so the rest of it is going to have to be a sprint.

The first step is to go back and read the stuff that I've missed, because unfortunately, we don't have very many reading days before exams. Actually, I take that back - we do. In the U.S., it's called Thanksgiving.

Looks like I'm going to be having my turkey with a side of CAPM.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Meet the Darden Student Bloggers!

Ok, so this post is belated - as are most non-case-related things in my life nowadays - but I wanted to introduce my illustrious group of peers, and better late than never!

Darden Student Bloggers

There are 15 of us in total, 8 First Years and 7 Second Years.

Seriously, this is an amazing group of people, and everyone writes really well. Definitely check out some of their perspectives on Darden. Between the lot of us, you'll get a well-rounded view of what the Darden experience is like - we've got people from a seriously diverse set of backgrounds.

As a footnote, let me mention that my post from earlier about blowdrying my hair was about the day that my blogger profile photo was taken for the Darden Student Blogger page. I think I did alright for myself. God knows I've stopped putting in effort otherwise!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This too, shall pass..

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Instead, I've come face to face with Q2 and Black November.

What's Black November, you say? Well, the days are getting shorter, and what with being in class all day, you don't get to see the sunlight very often. And if you do, it's still cold out. It's also the month that everything hits all at once.

Every single day, there's an increasingly longer and longer list of things to do. Classes, recruiting, home, family & holidays. It doesn't help that resume drop deadlines are fast approaching, and I'm stuck in a cover-letter writing quagmire.

And Q2 has that ill-fated trifecta of classes -- at least for me -- Global Economic Markets, Financial Accounting, and Financial Management & Policy. As someone who didn't come from a finance or quantitative background, I gotta say - I'm struggling to keep up. There's a ton of reading, which most of the former bankers and finance mavens can skip, but I can't.

Last week, I reached my breaking point. There was just so much pressure to read, understand, and perform in areas that I just wasn't comfortable in. Even after reading the cases, going to Learning Team, and attempting to process the information post-LT, it just wasn't clicking.

That was when I had my minor meltdown. We're talking a sobbing, furiously angry, frustrated meltdown.

For those of you who know me IRL, I know - I can hear what you're thinking. Sania doesn't break down in the face of pressure. It's just not me. My typical attitude is to claw down whatever is in my way, come hell or high water.

And yet, Darden has shown me time and time again that I'm so far outside of my comfort zone right now, that anything is possible. It's a bit strange to be so vulnerable. But it's also teaching me to be a better person.

When I'm feeling myself slip, I remind myself of the following quote*:

"Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends and your daily routines, you are forced into direct experience. That's not always comfortable but it is always invigorating." - Michael Crighton

If you think about it, it's true. It's not easy, but it's true. Every new moment, every new trial, even every tear - it'll allow me to grow, stretch, evolve.

And maybe one of these days, I'll figure out what's going on in Financial Accounting. Until then, it's time to take another deep breath and plug on.

* I found this quote in an excellent BusinessWeek article I read when I was considering coming to Darden. It's a really great & accurate picture of what goes on here. Check it out here.