Done with first term! I’m not sure if the fact that I’m 8.5% of the way through business school is motivating or daunting.
It shouldn’t be a big surprise that a lot of time is split between individual case preparation, group preparation in Learning Team and actual class. On any given night, my learning team could be spending 1-4 hours preparing for the next day’s classes or assignments. From the outset, the school tried to set up some icebreakers and a Charlottesville scavenger hunt to fuel group bonding. It was hilarious to see the range of dedication to the scavenger hunt photo ops…Underwater pics, Full Costumes, You name it. While it’s nice to have structured events anytime you have a work group with differing work styles, personalities and background, I think that most onus is on the team. One of the best things that our team did was to take a night (early on) to go out to dinner and get to know each other on a more personal level. One of my teammates is from Charlottesville and recommended Orzo as a meeting place. Over the course of the night, we ended up speaking with the owner and spending hours telling stories. As I’m writing this and remembering how much fun I had that night, I’m making a mental note to pick a time this month to plan another get-together. It definitely helped to lighten the atmosphere and made our subsequent meetings more fun.
On the other side of the spectrum, Dardeners have a strong allegiance to their sections (the 60 classmates whom you sit among, debate and learn with everyday in class). I’ve got to give a strong shout-out to Section B. We have an ongoing MBA tradition (referenced in Businessweek) that involves silly class comments, camaraderie and protecting our class mascot, the bird, from other sections. Luckily, we were able to recover him after he was taken by Section C (see ransom note to the right). While each section has its own tradition, we all compete for the Darden Cup through a series of events ranging from sports to trivia. Points are awarded for performance and participation. So far, we put up solid numbers for the two event, thus far: Softball and Trivia
Not to say that it’s been all work (& Darden events) and no play. On the contrary, I think that the rigorous workload during the week forces students to make better use of their free time. We actually had a speaker sponsored by Johnson & Johnson come to address time management, health and values. While there was some controversy among students regarding how to “invent that 25th hour in the day,” my major takeaway was the awareness of whether you’re passively participating in an activity or whether you’re actively engaged and making an impact. It’s not really a jaw-dropping revelation to note the importance of bringing energy, optimism and an open-mind to your daily activities, but it’s easy to forget about when you settle into a routine where you’re pressed for time. While it’s a theme that’s hard to ignore at Darden, because of the case-method’s emphasis on value-added participation (i.e. quality over quantity), I think the relevance to our social lives is just as important…Try and broker a real relationship with people, Connect through laughter and shared experience…Make the most of those 30 extra minutes instead of wishing you had 3 hours. Life’s only going to get more complicated (as evidenced by classmates balancing families, personal businesses, etc.).
SEEK OUT LIFE BEYOND THE CORNER & DOWNTOWN MALL
As a double hoo, I can’t deny that I have an affinity for the corner and am really enjoying the restaurant/bar scene on the downtown mall. While it’s easy to become a creature of habit and revert to the college 2.0 mentality, some of the best times that I’ve had since coming to Darden have involved either small group dinners or a few people getting together to explore Cville (whether that’s going to see a band playing at the NTelos Pavillion or Jefferson Theater, heading out on a camping trip or seeking out a fun winery).
Several locals recommended that we check out Starry Nights at Veritas Vineyards. The vineyard puts on a series of evening events throughout the summer and early fall where guests can picnic, listen to live music and, of course, indulge in a glass or two of wine. As you can imagine, it’s not difficult to recruit a group of MBAs for a night of food, dancing and vino framed against a Shenandoah sunset and stars. We hopped into a Wahooptie and made our way to the vineyard. The Wahooptie is a brightly colored, taxi tradition in charlottesville which references both UVA Wahoos and the term “hooptie ride, which could mean anything from a Classic Coup DeVille to a beat-up car. In my book, the Wahooptie is simply defined as a good time.
Suffice to say, once at Veritas, we were not let down. The vineyards were gorgeous, the wine was delicious and the D.J. and cover band played pop, alternative, country, hip-hop and oldies party favorites. There were no gagnum flashmobs, but we’ll let that slide, because I’m not sure anyone will be able to show up the Naval Academy MidShipmen spoof of the now infamous video.