Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Name is Rio

I´ve been in Rio for four days now.
The first half day was spent ranting about how gross our hotel rooms are (that said, the pool and lobby area are lovely) and about how we are now able to sleep holding our roommates´ hands while nestled in our twin beds.
The next two days were spent on Ipanema Beach, which is as beautiful as they say despite the presence of very aggressive peddlers.  It was amazing to be lying on the beach staring at these striking hills and the famed statue of Christ.  Truly, this is a beautiful city.
Yesterday and today were unfortunately spent being sick.  They say everyone gets sick on the GIP trip at least once, and true to form some sort of head cold from outer space seems to have struck.  At least it´s more dignified than the gastrointestinal distress the other half of my classmates have encountered here in South America.  Strangely, I seem to have left all my decongestants at home and only brought stomach ailment remedies, ironic since I have a stomach of steel.
I went to the local drugstore and had an amusing encounter where I attempted to act out what I had after failing to translate ´decongestant´into Portugese (where´s Maeve when I need her?).  The first thing they handed me was Amoxycillin, the antibiotic which carried me through my ear infection years of yore.  I find it astounding how easy it is to get prescription medication here.  My classmates are planning on going in to act out ´backache´and ´can´t sleep´ to see what other naughty things they can pick up.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sights of Sao Paolo

Since my camera cable is packed, this old photo of Maeve, Sasha and me will have to suffice.

Sao Paolo is not known as the most scenic city in South America, but it is its business hub (or at least Brazil's, the largest country's). We've been in some really interesting meetings here.

What's interesting about Sao Paolo is that it has the largest Japanese population of any city in the world besides Tokyo. This ethnic diversity means that I've had excellent sushi twice and that they offer regular caparinhas as well as ones made with sake (YUM and so much less of a hangover).

The photo above is from last summer, but it represents part of the highlight of this trip. I realized one day after I got here that Sasha's brother, sister in law, and adorable niece live here. When I got back to my hotel to email Sasha about my whereabouts, I had one waiting for him not only confirming this fact, but informing me that his mother was here visiting them as well. Last night I went out and met them for dinner. First of all, it was quite exciting to tell everyone that I was bailing on a group dinner (sadly, at the best churrasceria in Brazil, but my arteries are clogged enough thank you) to have 'dinner with friends who live in Sao Paolo.' Yes, I am that worldly. Then, it was exciting to take an hour long cab ride with a driver who spoke no English whatsoever, and was not quite sure where we were going. The cab ride was supposed to take about 15 minutes, but Sao Paolo has the most traffic I've ever seen, and I lived in LA. The two best parts of the cab ride was (1) having to tell the cab driver that the apartment was near the "Ouchy-Backy", which is how locals pronounce the name of the Outback Steakhouse, an apparent landmark around their neighborhood and (2) coming up on what seemed like a car accident slowing traffic to a crawl but what actually turned out to be five policemen waving large rifles and shining flashlights into the windows of passing cars, with at least six men already handcuffed on the side of the road (my local hosts informed me this may be related to the riots from last week).

Seeing Mary, Toby, Fiona, and Maeve was wonderful. It was also great to sit around with adults and talk about things that aren't investment banking or good looking women. Maeve is adorable, and currently sports the curliest mohawk since Mr. T. She's also Disney princess obsessed and intimidatingly tri-lingual. You want to feel small? Try having a three year old teach you Portugese.

It was great to catch up with old friends, and I'm not just saying that because 50% of my readers are members of this family. Oh, and Sasha? I learned how to say 'silly monkey' in Portugese because your niece was talking about you.

We fly to Rio tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Pictures from the Concha Y Toro & Soccer Match


case it isn't clear, I have a better internet connection this week.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Iguazu Pics

A video

I have no idea if this will be funny to anyone but those of us who are on this trip, BUT-- the video below is of a guy on our trip who is amazing at impersonating people. Here he is impersonating our Argentinian student leader and I assure you it's dead on. Since the way he talks is funny in its own right, and a lot of you are bored at work, enjoy.



Never ever ever fly Varig.

This is the same airline which delayed us for eight hours in New York on the way here, which is fine, these things happen. But I knew I was in trouble when the seatbelt sign went off, I rose to go to the bathroom, and found the unit that holds the toilet paper had fallen out of the counter and crashed to the floor of the lavatory, depositing said roll of toilet paper into the toilet bowl for good measure. I tapped on the nearby flight attendant's shoulder and informed him of the exact condition of the lavatory. His response was, "Oh yeah, just push it back into the wall." It was all downhill from there.

Yesterday, we flew them again to come to Sao Paolo to stay. Our original flight left Buenos Aires at 2:30 and got into Sao Paolo at 5 pm. They changed this about a week ago to a different flight. This one left BA at 4:30 and got to Sao Paolo at 8:30. How did the flight get four hours longer? It included a random stop at another airport. Did they cancel our original flight? No.

We boarded already disgruntled, and starved because there's no decent food in the BA airport (sidenote: it's especially cruel that at this wasteland of cuisine, you can buy twelve pound packages of raw Argentinian beef to take home. I was tempted to buy that and eat it raw or try cooking it with my small matchbook collection.). The seats are all rock hard. The space between you and the person in front of you is such that when the woman in front of me reclined, it was awkward NOT to give her a scalp massage. I also could not have an open laptop in these conditions. When 'dinner' came yesterday, I actually laughed when I opened the entree. It was two pink tomato slices floating in a pool of slimy orange on some white substance that other classmates swore was bread. It was accompanied by a bowl of canned fruit salad (heavy on the maraschino cherries) and a dessert I didn't even open. Those of you who know me well know that I have never passed on a dessert in my entire life.

This plane was also equipped with footrests. "Delightful!" those of you who have flown in business class are thinking. But in this case, it removed any hope of stowing beneath the seat in front of me. It also only rested in two positions: one allowed me to put my feet two inches above the floor of the carpet and have my knees around my chin, the other prevented me from extending my legs fully under the seat but did let me experience a hard metal bar resting against my shins.

(Sidebar from our flight into South America) Did I also mention that at three in the morning, at the end of our NYC-Sao Paolo flight, since Varig was obligated to put us up in a nearby hotel for delaying us so badly and forcing us to take a flight the next morning, we went through Brazilian customs/immigration without stopping once. No passports were shown, no forms were handed in. We entered a foreign country as easily as you enter a shopping mall. This is a sidebar non-Varig story, but an amazing one nonetheless. When we got back to the airport after three hours sleep, they tried to make us go through immigration to exit the country and our total lack of stamps/evidence we had ever entered Brazil nearly shut down the whole airport. But a thirty second explanation from a classmate who spoke Portugese had them once again let 42 people through two checkpoints with absolutely no record. Unbelievable.

I'm back in Sao Paolo for real this time.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Falling for Buenos Aires

I love it here love it here love it here.

OK, first of all, I took this incredible trip to Iguazu Falls, which everyone must visit once in their lives. It was the most awe inspiring thing I´ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I can´t post any of my own pictures at the moment, so click on that link and take a look, and then book your flight for this winter. The best part for us was the boat trip which promised a ´mist baptism´in the falls, but instead provided us with five head on dousings by some of the most powerful waterfalls in South America. I think my jeans are STILL wet, and it was two days ago.

Second, this city is gorgeous, the people are wonderful, the exhange rate is absurd, and the food is ridiculous. I don´t want to leave. Alas, we are headed to Sao Paolo tomorrow, where we are assured the riots will not be a problem.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Buenos Aires

All is well in Buenos Aires, my new favorite city.  Two words, people: cheap beef.  Make that three words: cheap delicious beef.  It´s quite beautiful here, and the people are lovely.  My one complaint is I´ve had very little time to enjoy it as the business portion of this trip is quite time consuming.  However, I am officially done with meetings, though I´m spending the next day and a half away from the city at Iguazu Falls.  Then I´m back for a day and a half jam packed with shopping and sightseeing, and then possibly off to Sao Paolo.  For those of you following the news, we are supposedly still going and are assured that everything´s fine there now.  However, given our love of Buenos Aires and our desire to extend our stay, is it bad I´m secretly wishing for riots?

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I was only a little sad to leave Santiago—mainly I was amazed at how quickly the week went by.  The wine train was fun but uneventful and a bit of a disappointment.  Today we were up at the crack of dawn to fly to Buenos Aires, which I had already decided was going to be my favorite city.  I have not been disappointed.  We immediately dumped off our bags and headed to a Boca Juniors soccer match.  This is one of the best teams in Argentina, and it just so happened that they clinched the Argentine championship while on the road last week, so today was the home fan celebration of this win.  I have long contended that soccer is the most boring sport on the planet (two hours of men running at a breakneck speed up and down a field with ball possession changing almost every minute to only score once just violates everything I believe a sport should be), but this was one of the best sporting events I’ve ever been to. 


First of all, I actually learned to appreciate the game.  I sat between a Brazilian and an Englishman who explained the finer points and I have to admit getting a bit sucked in by the action (I now maybe prefer soccer to hockey, whereas before they were just the two ‘I’d rather put a fork in my eye than watch an entire game’ sports tied in the basement of my sports fandom).   But more importantly, a stadium full of celebrating Argentinians is something I will never forget.  People were setting off fireworks and these smoke things in the team colors all over the stands.  The fans sang through the entire pre-game festivities, the game itself, and the lengthy post-game celebration, and unfurled flags which covered entire sections and played drums.  It was the most incredible group of fans I’ve ever seen in my life. 


Side note- our Argentinian host told us not to eat anything in the stadium, but since all I had to eat at that point was a cookie, a bag of candy, and two beers, I ate a sausage sandwich.  This is why you get the Hep A and Typhoid vaccinations and the ‘just in case’ Cipro prescription, right? 



To read more about Boca Juniors, and to download their hymn, click here:


Friday, May 12, 2006

Tourist Day

I'm still in Santiago, and today was our first 'free' day, which means it's the first day I got to sleep past 8. This was quite welcome as yesterday we were out until 3:30 am (again). I am quite enamored with the local liquor 'pisco' and the 'piscola' particularly, mixing it with coke (or Coca Light in my case). Side note-- when you buy a mixed drink here, they generally give you a glass with ice and about two shots of liquor in it, and then a bottle of soda on the side. It's up to you to mix it, and there's nothing watered down about them.

Today we did touristy stuff. Santiago is very western feeling and great weather, but if anything it's not quite exotic enough. We saw the presidential building, which was ground zero for the coup of 1973 (I even took a picture of what could be a bullet hole but probably isn't), and the central square with a beautiful cathedral. Then we went to the Mercado Central where we ate some very fresh seafood. Side note-- I think seeing where people buy food is my favorite way to see a new city. We then walked through a park and went to a fortress on top of a hill to see the view. Basically, there's not a ton to see.

There are two things we see everywhere which I am starting to think of as uniquely Chilean. The first is stray dogs, all of which are very well fed and are actually quite cute. I'm not sure who's taking care of these animals, but they don't resemble stray dogs I've seen in other Latin countries. The second is people making out on park benches. I have yet to pass a park bench where two people were not locked in endless embraces. Delightful.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

More Santiago

I can't seem to find the cord to get pictures off my camera onto the computer, which is unfortunate because I already have quite a few priceless photos. Today we went to the Concha Y Toro winery, which is gorgeous and included a very nice tasting. We then went to the country house of our Chilean leader's family. We have three student leaders on this trip, each one a native of a country we're visiting. Nicholas, the leader of this trip, invited us to his family's country house for an 'asado', a very fancy bar b que. So far, I've had beef down here twice, and both times it's been some of the best I've ever had.

OK, time to disco nap. We're going out at 11:30. I was out until 4:30 last night and then had to be on the bus at 9 for meetings (we also toured a cardboard box factory. It's amazing to watch Wharton students ooh and aah over cardboard.), so I need some shuteye.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Greetings from Santiago, Chile, a town that looks so much like Southern California, I keep forgetting to speak Spanish (er...).

After a delightful travel experience (Varig air makes NWA look like Virgin Atlantic), we wearily arrived in Santiago on Monday afternoon. We are now two days into our trip here, and have spent about half of it meeting local businesspeople or business school students, and half of it drinking Pisco Sours (yum!). It's definitely strange being in a foreign country with Wharton people.

It's also strange that I probably won't be back in Philadelphia until September! I had a very hectic post-finals day and a half of packing up my apartment to prepare to move to New York and leave my apartment subletter-ready. I already see some things I forgot, and when I rejoin the rest of my luggage in New York, I'm sure I'll think of some more. I just hope my apartment is in decent enough shape to justify the rent.

I also got a chance to scope out my new New York apartment. It's roughtly 2/3rds the size of my Philadelphia bedroom. The whole place. Should be fun! Oh, and I have no TV, which I think could be a personality-transforming experience for me.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Hear The Bells

I'm sitting in beautiful Fisher Library (not as beautiful as the 80 degree day outside-- side note, Spring is ridiculous. I really enjoyed my first wave of seasons, but what no one warned me about was the fact that Spring appears overnight, particularly the leaves. Branches that were bare two weeks ago are fully cloaked, and it's really beautiful.) studying for my last final as a first year. I've been reflecting a bit on the things I've learned academically this year, since officially the next hour and ten minutes constitutes the last academic learning I'll do until September.

Here are some things/phrases that are new in my life:

Time value of money: This is why you make your subletters pay you for the full summer up front. Note: I did not do this because I was desperate to get anyone in. Second note: My subletter was briefly a drummer for Blood, Sweat and Tears, the first band I ever saw in concert. By 'concert' I mean my parents took me to an office complex near our house and BS&T was playing there for some sort of picnic. I think I was seven. I do know that when the 'Personics' system came out, basically prehistoric iTunes which let you buy selected singles and 'burn' them onto a cassette, "Spinning Wheel" was on my tape.

Credible signal: What's crazy about this term is how we learned it in what seemed to be one of our most useless classes (naturally, one of my favorites), and now we use it all the time in all of our classes. Here, I'll use it in a sentence for those of you non-MBA types: "I have a crush on Steve, so I got a tattoo of his name on my hip to credibly signal my interest."

Bar: No, not that kind of bar. The bar you put over a number to show it's the mean. Like 'x bar'. It's how we split the check at B-school.

Extreme consumption smoothers: One aspect of macro (the test I'm studying for now) that I love. In every problem, the people earn their wages in apples, and they live a two period life. I think "Extreme Consumption Smoothers" is the greatest punk band name ever (have I done this bit already? Sorry, guys), and I think Two Period Life is the perfect debut album title.

Poisson distribution: vs. normal distribution. Though this has nothing to do with fish, my co-head-writer and I have vowed to use the "Le Poisson" song from little mermaid to ridicule OPIM. And as my friend likes to say, "Poisson is for suckers."

OK, seriously, that's enough procrastination. My post title is the Mike Doughty song I can't stop listening to. Those of you who watch Veronica Mars will remember it from the "Our love is epic" scene.

I'm Blue

Is it too much to ask for the Dodgers to win one freaking game? I get post-game alerts after each one, and it's bringing me down.

Four finals down, one to go. So far, I feel confident I passed one of them.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Goodbye, Nick Kelley

Last night, I had to say goodbye to my first second year. No doubt there are many I won't be seeing again before I leave for South America, but this was my first official 'come to dinner with me because I'm leaving tomorrow and you'll be gone by the time I get back' event. This is of course bittersweet. Completing the year means that I survived it (though I have my three hardest finals yet-- don't you love that you can count on procrastination blogging, dear readers?), and I'm excited for my trip and my summer in New York. However, there are quite a few people I'll miss in the second year class.

More importantly (because it is all about me), I won't be the shiny happy first year any more. I have to be blase and disaffected and ditch most of the really obnoxious parties (54 is an exception) to go to bar nights with fellow second years. Having attended more of these as the year went on, I can attest that the main point of them seems to be griping about how lame the first year class is and wondering who will finally break down and make out with their inappropriate crush given they only have three months left as classmates.

Anyhow, goodbye, Nick! I already miss you. And congratulations, West Coast. He's headed to San Francisco, which is yet another incentive to come back.

Not Homeless!

I just secured a sweet studio sublet in Chelsea. Yay me!

Of course, the energy spent doing this means I'm behind on studying. Oh, and Deb rocks, she did the whole thing for me!