Mi Último Día

26 Jul

I’ve been thinking about writing for the past week or so because my emotions and my head have been all over the place. Not only would it be an interesting read, but potentially therapeutic as I sort out my feelings about leaving. Even now I’m trying to start but I can’t say I’m sad without saying I’m excited, and I can’t say I’m excited without saying I’m sad. Not even in different paragraphs. These feelings are so intertwined its hard to verbalize but here goes. Lets be honest about my real motivation to sit down and sort this out: the day is half over and I still really haven’t started packing – procrastination always motivates me to be proactive about something else.

Ok so at the end of the day, I’m really really excited. I’m ready. I feel I have grown into this person I always knew I would be, professionally and personally, but its almost as if I’ve watched it happen as an outsider. I can look back (relatively) objectively and be in awe of my own development. I am consciously choosing words like “growth” and development” instead of “change”. I posted a quote last week that sums it up perfectly, “I didn’t change, I just found myself.” For this reason, its almost painful to think about how incomplete my life may have been (although I likely would’ve been left unaware) had this opportunity never come knocking, and had I never opened the door. Countless times I was so close to chickening out but support from family and friends encouraged me to just take the plunge. Thank God for you guys. Really. 

A few months ago I saw a post online from my Alma Mater asking alumni to tweet advice to new grads and this is the first thing that came to mind:

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Not much later, Brian Hallett, our advertising professor was giving us  very welcome words of wisdom on our last day of class. I later discussed it in an email with a good friend who is thinking about straying from the “traditional” path and moving abroad for a bit:

I had this professor ask us to imagine ourselves in 10 years. We all closed our eyes and surely saw ourselves in high powered careers with little ones running around at home. He said ok now think of yourselves 10 years ago. Did you ever imagine you’d be here? (NO!) He said we all imagine this direct path in life, straight toward the goal, but the truth is when you look back it was  always a windy road that leads you to where you are. Here’s my take away: be open to whatever opportunities arise and don’t say no because they’re unexpected. Say yes because they’re unexpected. 

 

I think its starting to be clear why my excitement and sadness cannot be separated. I’m excited to go home to finally be the person I was always searching for, I just didn’t have the proper experiences. I’m sad to leave because this is a city, a school, a community, a family that has helped me become this person. I know its not a permanent goodbye to any of those things, but symbolically this phase is over so, just like any phase of life, of course its sad. The truth is (I’m realizing this as I write this), I don’t have to feel one emotion or the other. They’re both appropriate and they’re both healthy to acknowledge. 

I know I keep raving about how I’ve finally become this person I knew I could be. I want to be clear, she is not without flaws. While I really feel I’ve grown into the best version of myself (to date, anyway), part of that is being aware of my not-so-great characteristics and working on the ones I can change, but embracing the ones I cannot. They (whoever “they” is) always say, “you don’t really know yourself until you’re 25” or 30, the numbers surely change. When you’re younger you think, “What are they talking about I’m the only person who has inhabited this soul since its conception, how could I not know myself, ‘they’re’ crazy.” Then one day, when you actually know yourself, you realize “they” were right all along. Maybe its not about knowing yourself, maybe its about not ignoring your most inherent qualities, the good and the bad. Its easy to be humble and brush aside talents just as easy it is to insist you don’t have a temper (as you storm off and slam the door). The day we can admit these things to ourselves, and even better, the day we can decipher between “Oh I better work on that” and “Yea, thats me, take it or leave it” is when we really start knowing ourselves. Best part is, it doesn’t mean your transitions are over, it just means they can be more controlled. I think. Not sure, I’m not really to that stage yet but I feel it on the horizon. 

So what is on the horizon? I’m so glad you asked. I know I’ve blogged about Socially Good Business in previous posts, raving about the company of course, so I’m thrilled to announce I will be officially starting work there this week. Founder Liz Brenna is looking for someone to do everything under the marketing umbrella which includes not only her marketing but her client marketing. I’ll be traveling with her to sales meetings and brand launches, I’ll be budgeting, and doing social media – learning and adapting the role along the way. There is a team of about 10-15 now so the fact that Liz wants me to start in this position is a pretty big deal. Its a very exciting time to be starting in this company as things are just starting to take off. Liz had a vision, was ambitious, and was observant to what they needed to adapt. Now its starting to be crazy busy with a lot on the horizon so I’m graduating at the perfect time. I love the passion of any startup but especially at SGB. I love that Liz really knows that I still don’t have the entire skill set needed for this position, but I will learn and I will learn fast. I’ve always said I knew I was dreaming for bigger positions than my experiences would allow, I just needed someone to have faith that I will learn fast, and quickly become the employee they imagined. Then, thankfully, along came Liz 🙂 Thanks to each stage of education, I have all the necessary tools – now its time to get to work. She keeps telling me I can take a few days to settle before I start but I really am dying to go in Monday. Tuesday we are attending a Sustainability Forum at RIT which is also really good timing so I can immediately learn more about this growing sector. 

As you can see from this entire post, I’m very ready to come home and get started in this career and see all these people I’ve been away from for so long.

Then on Wednesday this crazy thing happened. I mean, really crazy.

I got an email from an IE professor I had never met, telling me he saw my CV and he loves it. He’s a partner at a startup here in Madrid and they have a position open for Digital Manager” and… would I be interested.

Stunned, I replied that I have a flight home in a few days but if he has time I’m at least open to hearing about the company and the position. He called me two minutes later and said he would be able to meet the next morning (Thursday… yesterday). He asked when I was planning on returning to Spain from my trip to the US. I think he misunderstood – I’m moving home on Saturday. As you now know, I’m open to “unexpected opportunities”  and this certainly qualifies as unexpected, so of course I’d make time to hear about it. I told him about my plans to work with SGB so he didn’t feel like he’d be wasting his time. He was already asking me how soon I could get back to Spain if my move home ended up turning into a brief visit. 

The next morning I almost backed out, I felt like I was wasting everyone’s time by acting like I was entertaining the idea. The only people who knew about it were Ali and Lulu since they were with me when I got the email and I knew they would be mad at me if I bailed so their imaginary voices kept me in. Ali had told me, “its fun to turn things down and to know what you’re worth – just go.” Okkkkkk.

As soon as I met these two guys (one professor, one student) my attitude began to change. They are SO nice and so passionate (like any startup founders should be). Their concept is good and it would be an fun sector to get into (luxury travel and networking for young to mid-stage professionals). Essentially the position is social media and content management. I was honest with them and told them about my mindset going into the meeting and congratulating them on making the decision much harder than I expected it to be. They told me to think about it but I still told them it was probably only a 30% yes, and that was being optimistic. The disappointment in their eyes was both heartbreaking and flattering. I’ve never had someone look at me in an “interview” and say things like “you’re perfect for this,” and “we are not talking to anyone else, we will keep looking if we have to, but we want you,” and “just tell us what you need.”

It was very hard, so I did tell them I would think about it but on my way home (once I was away from the sad puppy eyes), I thought about all aspects. Responsibilities here are less than at SGB … (SGB – 1, Madrid Startup – 0) … While it would be amazing to actually live in Spain, I’m mentally and emotionally ready to be back on American soil, and better yet, breathe that chilly Rochestarian air … (SGB – 2, Madrid – 0) … my confidence in success for SGB is 100%, my confidence in success for this company hovers at a strong 80-85% which is great but clearly my passion and motivation lie elsewhere. I think I would like working with this company here, but I know I will love working with SGBI don’t think I need to do a final tally, pretty sure you get it by now. Either way, at the end of the day, I’m really glad I went and met with them – I will certainly be an ambassador for them in the future and I will try and help them find a wonderful Digital Manager.  Besides, Ali was right, it was good for the ego. 

So here we are… I’ve melted away a good hour of pack time so now I’m feeling a bit more pressure / motivation. The goodbyes so far have been rather difficult and there are still more to come, but I know I will see these people again and I’ll always have a home in the various countries where I have friends. More importantly, as excited I am to see where my life leads from here, I’m equally excited to see all the amazing places my classmates find themselves and cheer them on along the way. 

I hope all of you can take this post and apply it to your own lives. I hope you thought about a decision that may be weighing on you and that you might strongly consider (or even take) the one that scares you (read: challenges you) the most. I hope you imagined yourself in 2023, and realized how different your life is in 2013 than you imagined it to be back in 2003. If, after this, just one of you will hesitate when tempted to say “no thank you” and ask yourself, “why not?” then this post will turn out to be my favorite. Even if you have a quick answer to “why not” and decide not to do it, considering unexpected options will lead you to very new and very incredible places. 

THE END

… better yet….

THE BEGINNING

Final Presentations

17 Jul

The last month of school consisted of one class in entrepreneurship, and one class for our field project. The timing of entrepreneurship was difficult because we only had class once a week and the assignments had nothing to do with field project, which we were working on for all other waking hours of the day. Ultimately I ended up learning a lot from entrepreneurship but we did give feedback that the timing was less than favorable and I think administration will be changing that next year. 

For the past two days (July 9 and 10) we had full days of final presentations for our field projects. There was a jury of three professors who were grading us and previously had very little (if any) exposure to our ideas. Ali and I were scheduled to present 2nd on the 2nd day which we were comfortable with so we could relax through the first day. While I had a pretty good idea of what everyone had been working on, each of the presentations was so unique, it was very fun to see everyone’s final masterpieces. The time limit was 20 minutes but Ali and I were the only group of 2 (everyone else did it individually). We practiced several times trying to fit it into 20 minutes but we were forced to cut things out and still we were both rushing. After the first day we requested more time and it was graciously granted to us. Turns out they were just waiting for us to ask. 

The week prior, Vincent (program director) brought us to the satellite campus in Segovia (very cute town outside of Madrid) where the media lab is. Here we practiced the first 5 minutes of our presentations and they filmed it for us. Ali and I were so confident because we have been working night and day on this project for months so we didn’t think we needed to rehearse. Now, maybe it had something to do with the date (5th of July) – the night before I brought him out to celebrate his first 4th of July therefore we were struggling a bit the next morning. The other problem was, even though we know our project so well, we never had to verbalize it so when we got up there, we were stumbling and using a lot of “um’s”. It was so embarrassing and so out of character for both of us. I found it hard not to burst out laughing because I was so shocked with both of us. Like I said I think there were other factors at play but this made us realize that we needed to practice. 

We finalized the presentation Monday night and didn’t have to present until Wednesday so we spent about 4 hours Tuesday night perfecting our performance. I have to say going through our presentation again and again made me so proud of how much we have learned since we began this adventure. Everything down to our slide layouts have improved so much – its amazing how much more prepared I feel for the workforce than ever before.  

The night before we were practicing in the actual presentation room until they closed the building. It was to the point that we both felt so bored with it but I remember Lulu practicing Monday night for her Tuesday presentation saying the same thing and she did great for the actual presentation. When I got home that night I was going over it in my head as I fell asleep. I knew everything by heart. 

By the time we got up there to present I was so excited to show everyone our final outcome (and some people would be seeing our process for the first time). The same thing that happened for Lulu happened for us. Its impossible to be bored when you have a room full of people looking at your work, but the practice paid off. We were poised, confident, and direct. We didn’t ramble, we kept it concise and “sold” our work the best we could. 

 The reaction afterwards was just what we could’ve wanted. The feedback was not all positive, this isn’t kindergarten, but the important aspects of the presentation were positive. 

 

– “Very impressed with the full spectrum of work”

– “It is clear you did thorough research which makes your argument very strong”

– “You clearly justified having two people on your team”

– “Wow, this brand book is beautiful!”

– “I cannot believe you did all of the preliminary research, brand strategy, communication strategy, brand applications, AND a brand book, AND a video. It is clear you worked very hard on this and planned your time accordingly”

– “This is the type of work that should be coming out of a program like this. It involves creativity, strategy, and a managerial aspect. Well done.”

– “The structure of your presentation was very clear and well organized”

 

The negatives, in some ways, were kind of a shot to the heart – but it certainly was relevant feedback that we can learn from. We wanted to start with a powerful quote that related to branding but that was not directly about branding. We chose “Why fit in when you were born to stand out” by Dr. Seuss. I went on to tie it in by saying there is a corporate epidemic where companies are trying to fit into their industry when instead they should be trying to stand out. Our first judge referenced this quote and asked us about the conundrum of branding. “It seems to me that the essence of branding is to make the brand like everyone else.” He raised an interesting point. We were able to argue that, in the region, in this industry, we helped raise them above their competition, but we do agree that we put ourselves in a very tough position by using that quote and accidentally highlighting the fact that we are improving the brand to be more like other powerful brands. Ouch 🙂

The only other negative comment was from another judge that she was unsure if our logo actually produced a strong brand sense from which she could derive what the company does. We explained in our presentation the inspiration behind our logo design but that most people would not be privy to that information so it may be lost on them. At first my stomach turned because I thought, “Ok the weakest part of our presentation is our brand? Oh god.” When we responded to our concern however, I think we at least made ourselves feel better about it and hopefully her too 🙂 Ali cited an article we read about logo development and how it does not have to directly relate to the product (ex. pepsi) and that all competitors logos (including this company’s former logo) was an actual door (anchor product) which was perceived as tacky and poorly designed. The new logo is clean and professional and abstract. We also pointed out the FedEx logo. The logo has a forward pointing arrow in the negative space but most people don’t know that. The brand does very well on its own but once people learn this interesting piece of information, there is more of an emotional appreciation for the brand. Awareness of the meaning behind the logo will depend on marketing strategies but even if most people aren’t conscious of our reasoning, it is still a recognizable logo. For example, if you look at it for a few seconds then close your eyes, you can still see it floating under your eyelids. This is very strong for recognition and recall. 

The final judge offered a lot of praise and her only question was “what’s next?” That was a relief 🙂 This was actually the professor from the fall who was really unhappy with my team’s first presentation, I remember blogging about this particular experience. So its nice to know that personally I’ve come full circle with her!

After presentations our program management team took us out for a reception, along with some professors from earlier in the year who were kind enough to come watch our presentations and support us. Vincent, the program manager and first judge on the panel, came up to me and whispered “you guys kicked ass today.” It meant SO much to me. This project was our baby and we are very proud of what we’ve done but knowing that the person who designed this program is impressed with your outcome validates every emotion. 

We spent some time talking to professors in a more casual setting now that school is over. It was a lot of fun reminiscing and talking about funny moments in class. Its so nice to know we have a strong team of well-connected professors who offered availability whenever we need anything. This year was so incredibly beneficial for me, as most of you have witnessed through this blog, I could never put a price tag on it.

Unfortunately, Sallie Mae does. Back to reality!

Redefining Myself

12 Jul

Last time I checked in I had just arrived in London and was a little less than thrilled. However, the rest of the trip, finances aside, was amazing. I was able to spend so much time with “the Doctors Weber” – that is Dr. Keith and Dr. Andi Weber who were both mentors (and professors) of mine during my entire duration at WVU. The interesting part is that, although they’re married, I always had separate relationships with them. Andi was my advisor since my Freshman year and then taught me in my Capstone class my senior year. I always kept in touch with her for interview tips and resume feedback… letting her know where I was working at all times. I had Keith as a professor every single year of my undergrad. Freshman year he taught one of my first huge lecture classes and I thought he was hilarious. As I got deeper into the major I took smaller and smaller classes with him. By the end he was pestering me to go to grad school and I said “thanks but no thanks.” As most of you know, exactly three years later I was back in his office saying, “Ok ok I’ll come back.”

When I found out they would be in London for a conference I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the city and see two people who helped shape me into the woman I am today. The whole time I was there they really took me in as their own. Anytime they had plans or a tour scheduled they would call me and ask me to join them. Like I mentioned before, until now I had only worked with them as individuals but it was SO nice to spend time with them together. We talked about where I am and what I’m doing… but also about their career paths and how the paths have led each of them to where they are. It was so nice to see this other side of my professors and get to know them outside of school. We had so much fun and, being in London, I just felt this overwhelming sense of relief fall over me that I couldn’t explain.

Until I was in London I hadn’t realized how tense I have been lately in Spain. I kind of act like a “life coach” to a few of my friends, trying to encourage them and help them find their way. Sometimes I get frustrated if they aren’t motivating themselves – and I’m my frustration frustrates them too. Yes I can see most of you smirking because you know how I am with my brother and how much he “appreciates” my “helpfulness”. (I read a quote once that I loved: I’m not a nag, I’m a motivational speaker.)

I’m sure part my relief in England was just being able to speak English but I am so used to hearing Spanish and communicating in Spanish that I don’t think that was it. Once I thought more about it I just feel like for the first time I realized that I live in such a bubble in Madrid. The mentality in Spain is so much different than the US, and as I now realized, different than London. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I noticed the pace of life in London is similar to the US or at least to the pace of life in NY. Spanish people are very laid back and always late for everything. Lets just say in many ways, Spain offers a higher quality of life. Happier they may be but I’ll take my lifestyle with a sense of urgency any day. I realized in Spain I’m always waiting on people. I’m always encouraging (nagging?) people because I’m used to this mentality that if you don’t like something, change it. I have no idea if this is all of Spain or even all of Madrid but the general people I interact with on a daily basis are just, plainly, from a different culture. This is not news to me but I adapted so much to this way of life, I didn’t realize how differently I was living until I arrived in London. To be honest, I actually didn’t want to go back to Spain.

When I returned to Madrid, Ali, Lulu, and Vane were calling me to come hang out since I had been gone for so long (4 whole days). I was in a really strange mood so I tried to just go home but I was actually kind of upset and they sensed it so they insisted. When I got to Ali’s I started crying. I felt so bad that, in retrospect, I had been so tense and so irritable. They at least pretended to have no idea what I was talking about. They were so good at comforting me, the girls insisted they love having someone who cares enough to push them, who believes in their potential. I’m just lucky they see it that way.

It took maybe a week or two for me to settle back in and navigate the emotions I was having. It all came at a good time I guess because I was suddenly very ready to go home. I realized I’m having this identity crisis. When I got here I almost tried to forget everything I believed before I got here so I could really learn from these other cultures and have a better understanding of the world. What I realized in London is I am still very much this American girl… I just now have new perspectives. Somehow I need to find the compromise of both people and become the best version of myself.

This was a very interesting time for me, maybe the most interesting since I’ve been here which actually says a lot. I went through so many phases of transition, each time thinking I was growing so much. It wasn’t until June that I realized I was growing in different directions and I had to pull back and recognize who I am as an American and also who I am as a citizen of the world. I finally feel at peace with all of this and, yes, I’m still looking forward to my return to the good old US of A 🙂

Since we’re on the topic of “motivational speaking”… Mom, we’re all really looking forward to your blog post! 😉

That Awkward Moment When…

15 Jun

I’ve been in London for three hours and I’ve already had some epic failures. This is one of those times that if I can turn a major headache into sympathetic entertainment, it will cheer me up so please enjoy 🙂

That awkward moment when…

You are enamored by everything London, even the inside of the airport and you feel as though you’re entering into some mythical fairytale land you’ve always read about or seen in movies. Its really not that different but you hear the accent with every corner you turn and you see those red double busses pulling up outside the airport just before they dash off into the night (you’re sure they’re going to magically morph and become super skinny to pass all the traffic, just like in Harry Potter.) You can’t believe you’re here and you’re even a little surprised the air feels the same as home… wait, maybe you’re just surprised its not raining because thats what you’ve been prepared for. The glass automatic doors slide open gracefully as if to welcome you into the whimsical world of the Brits (yes, you know there are automatic doors everywhere, but its just better here, ok?) You walk out onto the sidewalk and see signs for cabs across the street. You look to make sure cars aren’t coming and extend a leg to step into the street when you see a sign painted on the road that you’ve never seen before.

 

 

 

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That awkward moment when you almost die.

I always thought about how strange/dangerous it would be to drive in the UK but I never thought about being a pedestrian! Thankfully someone thought to paint that plainly for people like me 🙂

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#2

When you considered taking the Underground, mainly becuase its “so London” but you decide you’ll figure out how to navigate that tomorrow. Its late and you just want to get to your hotel. There are signs for the Heathrow Express train but that sounds even more intimidating so you definitely decide to go with the cab option. Once you dodge death and make a mental note to look both ways several times before venturing anywhere across the street, you make your way toward the cab stand. The people there are very nice and after 8 months in Spain you are SO relieved they speak English. In fact, you catch yourself responding to several service people in Spanish because you are so accustomed to it. Anyway you get in this adorable little mini cooper type cab and are surprised when you see the cab driver walk to the right side of the vehicle. Then you giggle to yourself at how cute it is (not sure why, but it just is). He takes off and you casually ask how long the ride will be. “Oh about 40 minutes” …um WHAT? You ask shamelessly how much that is going to cost you. “Oh about 75 to 85 pounds” Ok I don’t know what the conversion is but I know what the euro is and I know what the dollar is and I know its stronger than both so you don’t need a calculator to suddenly have a panic. If this were a movie, the shot would cut to a birds-eye-view of my cab continuing around the circle and dropping me right back off at my starting point.

That awkward moment when you say “nevermind” to the cab driver and have to think of the nicest way to say “let me out as soon as humanly possible” without sounding cheap.

In all honesty, the guy was really nice. Annoyed but nice. I tried to pay him the 6 pounds I already racked up (yes that was just going around the traffic loop at the airport) but he wouldn’t take it. I thanked him and headed off to see what this express train was all about.

The train was 20 pounds and took only 20 minutes to take me directly to where I needed to go. Wow – thank god I was feeling conversational in the cab. See? It pays to be chatty!

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#3

I had a short walk from Paddington Station to Tune Hotels Paddington. Its a really cheap option but it has great reviews – a great value. I’m tired but I’ve arrived. I give the receptionist my confirmation and he does some typing on the computer then looks up at me sympathetically.

That awkward moment when you book 6/4-6/8 instead of 6/14-6/18.

Yes my card was charged because I didn’t cancel. Yes I have to pay all over again. No they don’t have availability any of the other nights, only tonight.

Lesson learned: stop being an idiot.

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UPDATE: Saturday 11:30am

I went downstairs to check out this morning and explained my situation to the girl at the desk. Last night I just couldn’t deal with it but this morning I was feeling refreshed and positive. Much to my delight a room opened up just three doors down from me and it is available the remaining three nights I’m here. Tune Hotels is actually a really nice place but really affordable – kind of like Southwest. They take out all the extras and give you the basics, but cleanliness is one of them so its great. I added on an internet package and toiletries package last night, and asked again for it this morning but she told me they would not charge me for it just because I must’ve been through so much already. It’s not even their fault, it was my mistake and still they want to help make my experience better. She said they would “love to do more but the way the company works….” I stopped her there and told her I completely understand, that it was my fault, and I’m very appreciative for everything they’ve done thus far.

I learned this from working in retail: always be nice, even in moments of distress, and they will want to do everything they can for you.

Lesson #2: see above sentence

Lesson #3: look for Tune Hotels whenever you travel 🙂

Hola Amigos!

10 Jun

I realize these posts are becoming fewer and further between, and for that I deeply apologize! I follow some blogs and I know how anxiously I await for each post and how disappointed (and sometimes even uninterested) I become as time goes on. The good news is its because I am incredibly busy and soaking up the fun whenever I have down time.

I can’t believe its already nearing the end here but I couldn’t be happier with how much I’ve grown since October. Professionally I have become quite the workaholic know that I know what it is that I want to do 🙂

I am working with Ali on our rebranding project for Faham International and its going really really well. We are learning so much and we’re working very well together. Although we’ve become very close friends, our professional relationship is exactly that. We build on one another’s ideas, congratulate one another’s ideas, and waste no time trying to come up with tactical ways to disagree with one another. Initially we scheduled two hours every day to meet and, without fail, never leave the work room before 4 hours is up. Now its crunch time – our final report is due June 28 and our final presentation is July 9/10. We have been having Skype meetings with the client who is based in Kuwait and, while slightly skeptical at first, are really excited about our proposals so far. We are working hard and loving it.

I am still working with Socially Good Business at home, doing some social media for them. It’s been fun because with a start-up its easy to get involved with more aspects of the business. I Skyped with the team last week to help them design a survey, which pulls from my research skills from last year. I continue to learn daily about all the ways companies can (and are!) helping to make a positive change on the world which leaves me utterly inspired and just plain happy. 

A few months ago I was out with friends at a bar and was introduced to some of their other friends. In brief getting-to-know-you conversation Carlos told me he has a start-up company called Conventia. I immediately started telling him what I can do for his company and a few weeks and meetings later (accompanied by his business partner Raul), we all decided to join forces. I’m currently helping them define their brand and increase their exposure.

Then I heard how my cousin Alex Baker is starting a micro-brewery and of course, because apparently I’m bored, I contacted him and offered to help out. He is excited to have some help in this area and I’m just continually excited to keep getting more and more experience. 

Now maybe you understand why I haven’t been blogging so much… but I really do think about it all the time if that helps.

Since I last updated I’ve spent a weekend in Valencia with friends which included a Valencia futbol match and an afternoon sailing on the Mediterranean (is this real life??).

My parents are currently boarding their plane back to the US after a really incredible trip to Spain. I’d love to go into details but I know my mom is working hard on her guest blog post so I don’t want to give anything away. 

Friday I go to (gasp!) LONDON for the first time. I am SO excited if you can’t tell. A handful of my favorite professors from last year and some of my favorite doctoral students are all attending the International Communication Association Conference and when I heard it was in London I knew it was a trip I couldn’t miss. I’m reallly looking forward to seeing all of these fun people, exploring London, and – for the first time since January – be in an English speaking country. YAY 😀 

I’m off to my meeting but I promise to keep you all more up to date with my activities and all the good stuff I get into in my last two months here!

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By the way – thank my friend Alice Podenzana for inspiring me to write again (if I have time to read a blog, I certainly have time to write!) by following her blog! She is studying Digital Journalism here at IE and she’s just an all around great girl 🙂 Alice’s Blog!

Also I must say my mom was guilt tripping me about my recent radio silence her entire time in Spain so I guess you can thank her too… 😉 Look forward to her contribution soon! …and feel free to harass her for it…

 

Commercial Advertising

9 May

This term we had a course called Commercial Advertising that was taught by Brian Hallett who is a professional photographer here in Madrid. Some of his clients include Mastercard, ESPN, and Cartier (to name a few). He has given us many realistic assignments to give us an idea of all aspects of the advertising process, including actual clients for whom we had a real-life deliverable.

The client for my group is Casa Decor. They’re a pretty high end company here in Madrid whose concept is similar to that of Home-arama in Rochester, just more fancy. They rent out an old fabulous building in a high-end neighborhood in Madrid, then interior designers pitch concepts to decorate different spaces inside. These are all the latest innovations and trends in interior design. Then brands will rent out the spaces as store fronts and its open to the public. They’re open for about a month then they tear everything down and start planning the next year. Its a very elite event here in Madrid and they needed a video to showcase this event. We met with the client who speaks most comfortably in Spanish so that was my first bilingual meeting which was interesting in its own way. This was a really great experience because, as Brian tells us is very typical, the client didn’t know exactly what she wanted when we were getting briefed on the topic. Who is your target? Designers? Brands? General Public? “…hmm good question.” You get the idea. In the end we made decisions with her and about 6 weeks later we had a presentation day in class. All three groups and all three clients came to see the final presentations. Ultimately we had to make some changes so we’re still working on the video but, again, this is very realistic. All in all it was a great experience. Casa Decor plans to use this video for years to come… AND our entire class has been invited to the event next month, which should be exciting!

After the presentation we still had two classes and Brian was kind enough to invite us to his studio, giving us the opportunity to apply the new photography skills he taught us this semester. He told us to come with an idea for a shot we wanted of ourselves (e.g. CV, portfolio, etc.) and we would each play the role of the model and the photographer. We had such a great time and we were all really impressed with the shots we were capable of capturing.
On the last day of class Brian presented us with the following video of our day. He passed us the photos and many of us used them immediately for our CVs and Linkedin profiles – this video just sums up how much fun we had that day. I took the photos of Dia who is the first girl in the video – she looks STUNNING but thats more about the model than the photographer 🙂
Enjoy!
MVMC Commercial Advertising Studio Photo Shoot
http://vimeo.com/65813323

My Week in Italy

7 May

Wow. I feel really guilty now that I realize how long its been since my last post. I went to Italy for spring break and ever since I returned, school was pretty crazy. Now my schedule has opened up a lot so I plan to do some catching up.

I spent 5 days traveling Italy with Ali and our friend Ignacio who is from Puerto Rico and studying his MBA (actually today was his last day and final presentation so congrats to him!!). I had been to (and loveeeed) Rome so for this trip we decided to stay more north.

 Ignacio (aka “Nacho”) and Ali find it hilarious that I consider myself Italian since I am 4th generation and don’t speak the language so when we decided to go to Italy I knew I was facing a week of torment and mocking “thank God Betsy is here so she can speak with the locals…” hahah and yes, I was right.

We flew into Milan but rented a car and drove directly to Bologna. Ah, Bologna. We really only spent the night there but thats all we needed to experience our favorite meal. When we first arrived we did some walking around and found we were right by the university. I still don’t know what was going on that day but it was a Wednesday and groups of students were all in the streets drinking, dressed as romans (in togas). They were in groups of 10-15 which made it seem like a scavenger hunt/bar crawl thing, I have no idea but it was amazing. Singing in the streets echoed off the old brick buildings. I had no idea what was going on but I was loving it. If I spoke the language I would have even joined right in!

We had asked the concierge for a recommendation and went to what ended up being one of the best places of the week (although almost everything is amazing in Italy). So we had the concierge make our reservation then when we arrived I gave them my name. The host was growing increasingly panicked and began asking around. When he came back he asked if a hotel made the reservation and we said yes. “Ahhhh DeetRRRRReenko” thats a rolled “r” which does not work for me so, sorry, not Dah-trinko. Great. I can’t even say my own last name in my home country. Fantastic. Hahaha we all shared a good laugh over that one, actually they’re still telling that story. Even I have to admit I had that coming 🙂

We’re in Bologna, its our first night, we’re enchanted by the city and the culture. The restaurant is filled with locals. We order Spaghetti Bolognese and I don’t think I’ll ever eat it anywhere else. Incredible. Italians eat like 3-4 course meals and everything was amazing. Halfway through our meal a jazz band started playing. The wine was flowing… we were in heaven. 

The next day we traveled to Florence which is where we ended up spending the bulk of our time. Of course, we had some pretty amazing meals here too. Bistecca Fiorentine is a massive steak that I couldn’t even eat half of but its a must-have when you’re in the city. Nacho is a museum guy. He loves art and history and he was the main motivation by any cultural things we happened to do throughout the week. Ali announced he was on vacation so he wasn’t waking up at crazy hours for anything and he would meet up. I decided to go along with Nacho and see some sights. Having said that, by day 2 in Florence I was ready to relax. We had bought some tickets to one of the world renown museums so we felt that we should go. As soon as we walked in, we lost Nacho… by accident. We went looking for him but then found ourselves (conveniently) in the cafe on the roof. We ended up ordering wine and sitting there just chatting taking in the atmosphere for an hour. It was one of the nicest times of the trip so even though I missed out on seeing some da Vinci (I’m still feeling guilty about that) it was a realllly nice time. We talked about our next career moves and locations and companies and what we’re looking for. It was a really nice life-coaching session, if you will, over looking Florence with wine. Who can complain about that?

The guys were making fun of me because I was really wanting to drink my way through Italy (sorry?). Ok I’ve done the museums with you now lets go to the cafes and share a bottle outside. They weren’t interested and I was growing increasingly annoyed so I finally said fine then you go back to the hotel – I’m going for wine. Can you believe they suggested I buy a bottle and bring it to the hotel? Hmph! So we went our separate ways, they were kind enough to leave me with the map – and they ended up getting lost so I felt that karma served its purpose 😉 As I was walking along the river I noticed the sun was going down so I ended up having an amazing photo session as I walked along and chased the sunset. If you are connected with me on Facebook you will see the photos. Breathtaking. 

At this point I had decided enough time had passed where I probably should just buy a bottle and bring it back while I got ready for the evening. I was planning on telling them I sat outside and loved life, but secretly I didnt have time to do that haha, woops. So I stopped into this little bar and asked if they had bottles to go. He did. It was only one (young attractive) guy working behind the bar so it ended up being JUST the experience I was in search of. I settled pretty quickly on a bottle but he insisted I try a glass of it first. Twist my arm. We talked for a while and I just relaxed and enjoyed Italy and all of its wonder. Then I was smart enough to ask him to open the bottle for me in case they didn’t have the means at the hotel (you know who raised me!) and I headed back. By the time I got there I think Ali was expecting me to be thoroughly annoyed so he was being extra nice. In the end I really enjoyed my time away but I was very accepting to his efforts 🙂

This night we found a really nice wine place. Again, I think they were feeling a little bad. Good 🙂 This restaurant (Ill get back to you with the name) only seats around 15 people (check) is owned by three young Italian men (check) and is based completely around wine (check)! The walls are lined with shelves of wines from everywhere and next to each bottle is a vase of soil from the given winery. They love telling this story too because I was enamored before I even tried ANYTHING. He told us all about the wine he decided to start us with and said he would be right back with it… and if he came back with an engagement ring I would be telling a different story right now hahah I was in love. I was going on and on about how this was my favorite restaurant so far and I was definitely going to recommend it to people. They said you havent even tried anything yet!! Oh yea. I almost forgot 🙂 Thankfully the wine and the food lived up to the atmosphere. The food menu is very limited and basically recommended based on the type of wine you order. We all had different wine and we all had different food. It was incredible. If they’re reading this they’re laughing at me. Oh well 🙂 Can’t wait to go back one day!

Our third day in Florence we took a drive to Siena. We chose this city rather randomly but it was beautiful. Old, small, and stunning. I think there’s a pattern going on here but we also had an incredible meal in this city for lunch. We had no idea where to go but everything was about to close for the afternoon (in Europe everything shuts down between 4-8) so we just had to walk in somewhere random. It was amazing and the ricotta pie tasted just like Grandma’s yum-yum-yum!

The next day we drove to Milan but we realized we messed up with our car reservation. We didn’t realize we were flying out of a different airport than the one we landed in and we rented a car. As soon as we got into Milan, Ali and I had to rush to get to the soccer game. Inter Milan was playing Juventus – both Italian teams, one was the defending champion and the other was the current leader. We decided to worry about the car situation later because we did not want to miss this. Nacho decided to go check out some museums and the Dome while we went to the game. 

As soon as we sat down in the stadium, a fight was about to break out. These Italians are crazy and I love it. They hold these banners int he beginning of the game that cover entire sections. Someone started yelling for them to drop it, the guy yelled back, all in Italian… the little kid in the stands was yelling too… it was hilarious. Then a fight was really about to happen – so close the guy pushed off Ali’s shoulder so he could climb up the bleachers to get to the other guy. Thankfully people calmed it down and walked away. Very intense and I have to say it was pretty exciting. All game when something happened they didn’t like, you look around at the crowd and everyone is flailing their Italian hands in the air… even minutes later you could see they were all still complaining to the person next to them becuase their hands were flying around. Amazing. 

At the end of the game we had to sort out the car situation. The guys ended up driving it back to the one airport and let me stay at the hotel and relax. YAY 🙂 When they returned we went out for one last really nice dinner, stuffed ourselves silly, and tucked away for the night. The only thing I saw in Milan was a European Football match but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Such a fun experience!

Overall we had such an amazing 5 days. I got moody sometimes and they did a really good job managing that. It reminds me of my college roommates (Dave I know you’re reading this and smiling, remembering how I can get). They let me be and then, once they stop being annoyed, they make sure I’m happy. Works for me! 🙂 We had a lot of laughs, it was the perfect combination of personalities and I took away many memories that I’ll cherish even more once we all move away from each other. 

If I forget to come back and put in the names of the restaurant, remind me – the one in Bologna and the Wine place were the two keepers. The guys would tell you their favorite was the one with the Bistecca in Florence so if you’re traveling let me know and I’ll tell you the names 🙂