Archives for the month of: April, 2012

Eff the funk (whatever negativity is floating in your mind at the moment) and spend five minutes looking at these adorable photos of animals!

When I had my birthday last September (mark your calendar, I expect virtual gifts) I had a party at my apartment instead of going out in the city. I’m lucky enough to live in a big space so someone asked if it was going to be a “real rager.” Heck no. Do I seem like a chick who wants to spend her BIRTHDAY with your friend’s cousin Sam’s athletic trainer Rob? I had my birthday at home so that all the riffraff in NYC bars would not be invited. Exclusive, not inclusive. Inclusive is your fifth birthday when everyone in your kindergarten class gets a Sesame Street invitation. Even that kid who eats paste.

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I met someone who took a trip to Patagonia and my first reaction was “HOW FLIPPIN’ COOL!” My second thought was “Tell me how to do it!” Stephanie is a generous soul and took the time to share the details. Look at these photos. Would you be in a funk if you visited Rio de Janeiro, Patagonia, and Buenos Aires for a two week adventure? Doubt it.

My limited knowledge about Patagonia comes from one of my favorite books, “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman” by Yvon Chouinard. He is one of the co-founders of the company Patagonia. This isn’t super-relevant to planning your trip to South America but I just wanted to introduce you to Yvon because he is passionate about so many things that he probably doesn’t even know what a funk looks like!

Stephanie started her trip visiting friends in Rio, flew to a small town in Patagonia, then finished in Buenos Aires.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 3 days

  • she stayed with a friend
  • you’ll find beaches, nightlife, futebol, live music and history

El Chalten, Patagonia: 3 days

  • she stayed at the Rancho Grande hostel
  • you’ll find pristine views and challenging hikes along with friendly locals in this sleepy town

Buenos Aires, Argentina: 5 days

  • she stayed at the America del Sur hostel for $20/night (they do free guided tours)
  • you’ll find nightlife (Lapa neighborhood), live music, $6 tango lessons, Evita’s pink house, a botanical garden, Christ the Redeemer statue, and Iguazú Falls

Patagonia hike:

Stephanie originally planned to do the “W trek” (named for the shape), which was 5 days long but she didn’t know if she was physically fit enough for it. In the end she booked a 1 day hike. “It was humbling. I walk a lot around New York but I’m not really in shape. I couldn’t do anything the next day. I could barely walk!” Despite the physical challenge, the hike was still one of her favorite parts of her trip. “I would be walking on the red dirt trail and there would be 15-20 minute stretches when I didn’t see anyone else… just the animals. Then I would worry a bit thinking, ‘I’m alone out here!”

Best memory:

“The full moon tour at Iguazú Falls. The falls are composed of 275 waterfalls between Argentina and Brazil. We walked on this raised path in the moonlight over the water towards the falls. There were no electric lights, just the light from the moon to guide us. The water was so loud and we were covered in mist. It was really mysterious because you couldn’t see the bottom of the falls but the noise was overwhelming. The moon was orange and so low in the sky. I just kept thinking, ‘This is so magical.’

The next day she did a jungle jeep excursion so she could see it in the daylight. In the daytime there are rainbows everywhere you look but at night you can see “moonbows!”

Budget:

Roundtrip airfare from JFK to Rio/Buenos Aires… $1,200

Airfare from Rio > El Calafate, Patagonia > Buenos Aires… $750

Full moon tour (includes buffet meal)… $75

Jungle jeep excursion with boat ride to Iguazú Falls… $60

Average meal without alcohol… Rio $8-20; Iguazu falls $7-15; El Chalten $7-15; Buenos aires $5-10

Hostels… Rancho Grande in El Chatlen, Patagonia- $17-36/night; America del Sur in Buenos Aires- $20/night

Food for thought:

  • It was her first time traveling alone so she planned everything (hostels, transportation, activities) beforehand.
  • Pack essentials: hiking boots (with good ankle support), going out clothes for nightlife in Rio and Buenos Aires, long johns for Patagonia (wool leggings and long sleeve shirt), muddy belt (to prevent theft), printed reservations in plastic sleeves, flip flops for showering, hat for the sun, sunglasses, sunscreen (can be expensive in small towns), backpack and rolling suitcase, passport, visas
  • Plan a day of rest after a full day of hiking in Patagonia
  • Use common sense: there are some neighborhoods in Rio and Buenos Aires that tourists should not visit at night
  • Timing is everything: the full moon tour obviously doesn’t happen every night. Also, Stephanie went in January, which is summertime south of the equator.

The trip gave her time to mull over LIFE:

  • She had time to think about her job situation (she was starting a new position post-trip)
  • She caught the travel bug
  • She realized she wants to spend more time with friends and family

Where in the world is Stephanie Sandiego? In the future, she plans to visit Isla Magdalena, Chile to spend some quality time with penguins and the Philippines to explore the Palawan underground river.

Feeling adventurous right now? Stephanie recommends “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon” by David Grann.

Where are you going on your next trip??

Music soothes the soul before a baby is born: a mother’s heartbeat serves as constant, comforting noise to a child pre- and post-birth.

Skip forward to today, and your favorite song is probably not your mother’s heartbeat (unless you’re into dub step). Eff the funk by planning ahead and making your ultimate playlist for yuck-yuck days. Try to pick songs with a positive vibe that you’ve liked for years. Here is what I pulled together for my playlist:

Little Bitty Pretty One- Bobby Day & The Satellites
Black Betty- Ram Jam
In the Summertime- Mungo Jerry
Right Back Where We Started From- Maxine Nightingale
Good feeling- Flo Rida
99 Problems- Jay-Z
Together Again- Janet Jackson
I Decided (Part 2)- Solange
Honey (Bad Boy Remix)- Mariah Carey
Last Night- The Strokes
When Love Takes Over- David Guetta (featuring Kelly Rowland)
Lip Gloss- Lil Mama
Like a G6 (cover)- Hank and Cupcakes
1901- Phoenix
Dog Days Are Over- Florence + The Machine
Something Good Can Work- Two Door Cinema
Bennie and the Jets- Elton John
No Day But Today- Rent Soundtrack
Roll If You Fall- Barefoot Truth

What songs will you put on your beat-the-moody-blues playlist?

No mind-altering drugs here, sorry. BUT I’m sure Chuck and Josh have done a podcast on how drugs affect the body… They do a regular podcast called “Stuff You Should Know” through the website How Stuff Works. Tons of episodes are available to download for free on iTunes. Their combined range of knowledge is vast, their tone is informal (no lectures please!), and they can be real jokesters.

Some of my recent favorites:

How Air Force One works

How shrunken heads work

How Freemasons work

What is a hangover, really?

Does acupuncture work?

Maybe one of them will spark an interest in you that will help eff the funk. Also, it might be nice to have a few downloaded on your iPod if you’re traveling this weekend.

Are you feeling stuck at work and contemplating going back to school for a graduate degree? I encourage you to eff the funk and explore your options.

Two of my friends received MBAs from different schools and they have graciously agreed to chat about it for your benefit. Can I let you in on a secret? One of the big reasons I started this blog was so that I could pilfer information from my friends/family/acquaintances for myself. Selfish? A bit, but I’m sharing with y’all so quit calling me out!

Here are Priya and Ann to share their MBA experiences with you. This one is a podcast format so turn up the volume and go organize your sock drawer/paint your nails/chill in downward dog. Apply for MBA Programs with Ann and Priya

Priya (Vanderbilt University alumnus) & Ann (Georgetown University alumnus)

Additional Q&A:

What was your plan of attack for taking the GREs and the GMATs?

Ann: Study, study, study. Study before work and all day on Saturday and Sundays. The GMATs were something that took me several years to complete. As a result, I ended up taking several of the GMAT prep courses. I also was active on the internet in reading all the blogs, online prep questions, etc.

Priya: I took a course from Princeton Review and studied for about 3 months prior to the GMAT. There are many online tests available to help with the math and verbal sections.

Do you need to take both tests or just one?

Ann: Just one.

Priya: Depends on the school. Most b-schools require the GMAT for admissions but some are accepting the GRE in order to expand their applicant base. Be sure to check with the school before registering for the exam.

What was the most challenging aspect of your respective programs?

Ann: The classes were challenging as well as looking for the job search. But I suspect that is true for all programs. Quite honestly, the most challenging aspect was the GMAT. Everything else was very manageable for me.

Priya: For someone without a finance background, keeping up with the finance courses was a challenge. Thank goodness for my classmates who would take time to teach me simple things like Excel. Getting used to the workload was another huge challenge.

What was the most rewarding aspect?

Ann: The friends and network that I’ve developed.

Priya: I gained a tons of confidence in my management and leadership abilities especially when working in groups. I met some of my best friends while in school and I am grateful for the community at Vandy. My two years there were easily the best two years of my life.

Any advice for someone who feels intimidated by the idea of applying for MBA programs?

Ann: Don’t feel intimidated. Know where you want to be post graduation and how the MBA will help you get there. Don’t do this because you think its the “right” thing to do but rather how will the education/network will take you to where you want to be.

Priya: It can be easy to feel intimidated but remember that b-schools are looking for diverse experiences in their student body. Be sure to highlight the experiences that set you apart and focus on those during the application and interview process.

Could you please recommend specific books or websites as resources for applicants?

Ann: I really liked the Manhattan GMAT series. There are also forums that help with the test prep questions…and those were helpful to me to get prepared for the test.

Priya: Check out the Princeton Review and Kaplan websites for GMAT info. WSJ and Business Week also have MBA sections on their websites. Best advice is to talk to alums or current students about a program that you’re interested in and visit the schools if at all possible.

Side note: During the podcast interview Ann mentions that she did some “informationals.” She is referring to informational interviews, which is when you interview someone who is established in their career to learn about the company they work for, their career path, the positives/negatives of their job, etc. in order to gain insight- not ask for a job. Informational interviews can be done in any industry whether or not you are interested in getting a MBA.

Many thanks to Andrew Manson and Kevin Cabriales for their production assistance!