Surviving CIM

6 09 2009

Despite every Kellogg student I ever met telling me about the grueling schedule of the first week of CIM, I still found myself pretty unprepared for exactly how tough it would be.  I am completely and utterly exhausted (and fighting a mild case of CIM SARS).  But since we’re off today, I wanted to write down my thoughts on my first 2 weeks of being a Kellogg student while the memories are still fresh in my head.  So…


One word: wow.  I was one of the lucky few who managed to register for the KWEST Mystery Trip.  On the bus to the airport, our trip leaders gave a short history of the Mystery Trip at Kellogg before revealing that our mysterious destination was Malaysia.  But that was all they revealed, our itinerary was kept a mystery, with the leaders just telling us what we should wear when we met each morning.  Some highlights I remember:

  • The first night we got to our hotel in Kuala Lumpur about 11pm, and were told to meet in the leaders’ room in 30 minutes with our duty-free booze and whatever mixers we could find.  Once there, they introduced us to something called ‘the envelope game’, where each person pulls a question out of an envelope and has to answer it.  It was a great ice breaker, and the stories that were told definitely got the group completely comfortable with each other and set a great tone for the rest of the trip.
  • After 2 fun days (and even more fun nights) in KL, our trip leaders surprised us again by announcing we were on our way to the airport and would be flying to an island just off the Malaysian coast called Langkawi.  After a very short flight and bus ride, we found ourselves pulling into a beautiful seaside resort where we’d be spending the last 3 days of our trip.
  • Our first full day in Langkawi provided what was for me the highlight of the trip: a day on a sailboat sailing around the many tiny islands off the Malaysian coast.  After sailing for a bit, the crew lowered a cargo net into the water along the boat and let us jump into the water and swim a bit.  Well, not really swim, more like hold onto the cargo net in the face of some of the strongest currents I’ve ever felt.  Even without the boat moving, the current was strong enough to pull you the full length of the boat (probably about 40 feet) in a matter of seconds. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun having my entire group relaxing on a cargo net in the ocean.  After lunch, the boat dropped us off on a deserted island beach (which definitely produced more than a couple Lost jokes) for a little while, then took us home in time for dinner.
  • Our last day in Langkawi involved a hike through a rainforest, KWEST Olympics, and finally the big reveal where I finally learned about the backgrounds of my fellow Mystery Trippers.  While there were some people I had figured out already, there were a few that were complete surprises.  I really liked that we got to know each other without the normal “where are you from, what do you do” conversations.  I definitely think it helped us know each other at a much more personal level.

Overall, KWEST was absolutely amazing.  I would highly recommend any person who comes to Kellogg to do a KWEST trip.  It was great walking into the first day of CIM with 19 people in my class that I was already very close with.  I could very easily see my fellow Mystery Trippers being some of my closest friends here.  Even with the crazy schedule of CIM, we’ve managed to find time every day to hang out, even if only for a few minutes.


After 2 days off to recover partially from KWEST, our full class got together for the first time for CIM – Kellogg’s orientation/pre-term.  We were all organized into sections of about 70 people (I am a proud member of the Bullfrogs), with whom we would spent most of our time during CIM, as well as our core business strategy class in the fall quarter.


The first few days of CIM definitely had a summer camp feel to them.  There were a succession of speakers from the Dean’s office and various administrative departments welcoming us to Kellogg, there was time with our sections where we got our official section t-shirt (which then became required attire for the entire week) and started to meet our new section mates, there were all sorts of competitions between sections, and of course there were many, many late nights out drinking and socializing with classmates.  Towards the end of the week, our pre-term class started, but that didn’t dial back any of the other activities.  It just meant that on top of all the summer camp stuff, we now had homework to deal with too.  It definitely was a good preview of the kind of time management – and endurance – that will be required in the next 2 years.  The capstone of CIM was CIM Olympics, which was held yesterday.  This was a full day of section competition in such events as dizzy bat races, golf ball tossing, and tug of war.  While there were certainly elements of this week that I didn’t like or that I thought could be done away with, overall I think it was pretty effective.  In the course of 6 days, I went from sitting in my section room with 70 strangers to, at a minimum, knowing each person’s name and, in many cases, being friends with them.  Now we have 2 days off to recover from the madness.  People joke around about CIM SARS because of the number of people who end up sick by the end of the week.  It’s easy to see why people get sick, between the lack of sleep, the amount of alcohol consumed, and the fact that you’re in close proximity to so many people for so many hours.  I actually consider myself lucky I only have a cold.  Two of my sectionmates are out with strep throat, and one of my KWEST group also had to go to the doctor for an illness.  The good news is that the pace slows down slightly from here.  While there’s another 2 weeks of CIM, the schedule becomes a lot more manageable, with organized activities only scheduled from 10am – 5pm, rather than from 8am to midnight.


I’m still alive

2 09 2009

It has been a real long time since I updated, but it’s not for lack of things to write about.  Things have just been a complete whirlwind and I just have not have had any time at all.  KWEST was an absolutely incredible experience.  I got to spend a week in Malaysia with 24 of the most awesome people I have ever met in my life.  CIM has been non-stop of meeting my new sectionmates and classmates, community service, drinking at the Keg, team bonding exercises, information sessions, meetups with my KWEST tripmates, drinking at the Keg…well you get the idea.  Tonight I’m leaving in a few minutes for a small group dinner with some sectionmates, then back to Jacobs for time for my section to prepare our section skit that we need to perform on Friday night.  We’ve tentatively planned to wrap up tonight before midnight, and thankfully after 2 days of 8am starts we don’t need to be back on campus tomorrow until 10am, so I should be able to catch up on some much needed sleep tonight.

I’ll be back this weekend with a more detailed review of KWEST and CIM.

Where has the time gone?

18 08 2009

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Evanston for over a week already – the time has really flown by.  I think it’s even harder to believe that in only a few more days I’ll be heading off on KWEST.  There’s been so much going on, and it seems the pace is only going to quicken from here:

  • Last Thursday’s TG (happy hour) in Chicago was a lot of fun.  It seemed like a large portion of the people there were from my class, and it was great to meet a bunch of my new classmates as well as to see people I met at DAK again.  After the TG, I went back to Evanston with a few classmates for dinner then drinks at Nevin’s.  Very fun times.
  • Saturday night was a big kick-off party for anyone from my class who had arrived in Evanston already.  There were easily over 150 people there, and it was great meeting even more classmates.  So far all the people I’ve met have completely lived up to the Kellogg stereotype of being friendly and down to earth, and I’m looking forward to spending the next 2 years together.  There’s another kick-off party on Thursday for anyone who arrived in Evanston after the first one, which I’m sure will also be a lot of fun.
  • On Sunday I met one of my friends in Chicago for lunch.  As we were walking back to her apartment afterwards, we saw the US Air Force Thunderbirds flying over the city as part of the Chicago Air and Water Show.  I’ve never seen an air show in person, and even though we couldn’t see their entire performance it still was pretty amazing to watch.  I think the most incredible part was how fast they would fly below the level of the downtown skyscrapers.  We saw one plane go screaming down Michigan Avenue before making a tight turn to curl around the buildings downtown.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me because it really was a sight to see.
  • My apartment is finally all but unpacked.  I just need to pick up some hooks to hang the couple pictures I brought and go food shopping and I’ll be all set.  Now that all my stuff is here and not in boxes, it’s really starting to feel like home.
  • A few days ago I went to the NU campus to get my new student ID and walk around the campus a bit.  I have to say it really is a beautiful campus.  My undergrad university was in the middle of a city so the campus had a very urban feel to it without a whole lot of open space, so it’s nice to have more of a stereotypical campus here.  I didn’t get to the lakefront part of campus, but will probably go back before KWEST and hopefully will remember my camera this time.
  • One bit of news that I’m not real happy about is that the sale of my condo back in NJ still hasn’t closed.  I heard from my lawyer last Thursday that the buyers’ lawyer said it would be next Thurs or Friday, but still nothing.  I’m trying to get my lawyer back on the phone to figure out what’s going on.  My realtor told me yesterday that she heard from a “reliable source” (I interpreted that as the buyers’ realtor since my realtor and their realtor work in the same office) that the buyers are now targeting an early September close.  I’m no attorney, but since our contract says the closing date was August 6 I don’t know how they can unilaterally decide to close in September without being in breach of contract.  I think it’s time to start playing some hardball.  I really want to get this done this week, since between KWEST and CIM I won’t have a ton of time to deal with it after this week.

Greetings from Evanston

13 08 2009

I made it!  Well actually I made it a few days ago but only just got internet installed yesterday afternoon.  The drive out wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared.  One of my friends drove out here with me and it definitely helped make the time go by very quickly.  It was kind of interesting to see the landscape.  I had never really driven past eastern Pennsylvania, so my whole experience with places like Ohio and Indiana was from 35,000 feet.  It definitely gave me a new appreciation for just how big the country is to drive for so long and only be about 1/3 of the way across.  As interesting as the drive was, I was glad on Sunday morning to see the Chicago skyline rise from the horizon.  My friend and I then spent the rest of Sunday, plus Monday and Tuesday being tourists in Chicago.  We went to a few museums (the Museum of Science and Industry is a must-see), walked through Grant and Millenium Park (the Bean is very cool), and visited the Hancock Center and Sears Tower – I’m refusing to call it the Willis Tower.  By far the highlight of the tour around the city was the “Ledges” at Sears Tower.  It was a little unsettling to step out onto what seemed to be a very thin piece of glass 103 stories above the ground, but also a pretty incredible sight.  It was a really great weekend and a fun way to get better acquainted with my new city.

I’ll admit that when I finally arrived in Evanston, I had a moment of complete shock and unease about what I was getting myself into.  The past few weeks had been so emotionally stressful, between saying goodbye to my friends and family, selling my condo, and moving out here – I think it all sort of hit me at once.  However, those feelings passed pretty quickly and since my friend left to go back to NJ on Tuesday afternoon I have been way too busy to think about missing people (cue foreshadowing).  Despite how much students told us how busy we were, I was actually surprised how quickly my calendar started to fill up.  To give a sense of what’s been keeping me busy:

  • Tuesday night I had dinner with a few former colleagues who are here in Chicago
  • Wednesday morning my furniture and belongings arrived at my apartment, with very minimal damage (so far the only casualties are 2 wine glasses and a coffee mug, and most importantly the big ticket items all arrived unscathed).  As soon as the movers left my apartment, I met for coffee with another former colleague who is currently doing an MBA at Berkeley, and is considering applying to Ph.D. programs – including Kellogg’s.  I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking, then met up with a few classmates for drinks last night.
  • Today I’m continuing to unpack, as well as making trips to IKEA and Target to pick up a few things I need for the apartment.  Tonight there’s a happy hour for Kellogg students and alumni in Chicago, and I imagine people will be going out for drinks afterwards as well.

If the past few days are any indication, it’s going to be a very fun – and very busy – 2 years.  I’m sure that the time will fly by very quickly, so I want to make sure that along the way I’m taking the time to enjoy and appreciate the experience.

Moving Day

6 08 2009

Well, actually yesterday was moving day. After all the preparations and packing, the moving company came bright and early yesterday morning to pick up my stuff. Two hours later, all my worldly possessions were loaded on the back of a truck, and I was left with a completely empty condo. It was a little strange, even without any of my things, the condo still felt like home. As I did a final walk through the condo to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, part of me still couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t be back there again. As much as it wasn’t my dream home, it was my home for the past 5 years and there were a lot of good memories made there. So now, I’m staying with my sister for a few days until I leave for Evanston on Saturday. I really can’t wait to get going. I’ve never been real good with goodbyes, and I feel like the past few weeks have been one extended goodbye – to my family, to my friends, to my job and coworkers – and I’m ready to get past the goodbye phase and get to the “meeting new friends and starting school” phase. That phase sounds like a lot more fun.

One bit of frustrating news from yesterday: the closing date on the sale of my condo has been delayed until probably next week. Originally the closing was supposed to be today (hence my moving out yesterday), but my buyers’ mortgage paperwork isn’t finalized yet so we can’t close. The mortgage has been approved, thankfully, so it’s not a huge issue, just a matter of the bank having all the paperwork in order. So since the close will happen after I leave town, I’m meeting my attorney this morning to sign all the closing paperwork (it still amazes me how much paperwork is involved with real estate transactions), then he’ll handle the closing on my behalf. If that is the biggest hiccup involved with this move, I will count myself a lucky man.

One week to go

1 08 2009

One week from today, I leave NJ and begin my trip to Evanston, arriving next Sunday (with my stuff hopefully a few days behind me).  I know I’ve said this before, but I really can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by.  For so long, going back to school was almost an abstract concept – something I’d do in the future, or next year, or this fall.  Now to have it so close, to be faced with the details of the move and of starting school – which class to choose (I chose Marketing), did I remember to set up electricity in my new apartment (yes, I did), etc. – it finally feels real.  Reminding me just how real it is, my sister and her husband are throwing me a going away BBQ today, with my immediate family and closest friends invited.  It’s strange, I know it’ll be a lot of fun but at the same time it’s also a little sad that this will be the last time I see some of them for a while.  I don’t really know why I’m having such a hard time with this.  After all, for most of the past 3 years I travelled a lot for work, and there were several times I didn’t see my friends for long stretches of time because of our schedules.  For some reason this feels different.  I don’t know, I really think I just need to get the move over with and for KWEST and school to start.  I think the downside of being unemployed with little to do other than get ready for the move is that it gives my mind way too much time to think about stuff like this.

Otherwise the preparations for the move are going very well.  I’m pretty much all packed other than things that I’m going to wait until the last minute to pack (clothes I’m taking with me, laptop, TV, etc.).  I’ve made a few trips to my mom’s house to bring some stuff I’m going to keep in storage there the next 2 years, and thrown out a lot of stuff that I realized I never used or needed anymore.  In that way moving is good, it really forces you to look at what you have and get rid of a bunch of stuff.  I’m all set with the moving company.  The only last second hitch to come up is with the condo sale.  Apparently the buyer’s mortgage hasn’t been finalized yet so we may need to push back the closing date a bit.  Shouldn’t be a huge issue (as long as they ultimately get a mortgage), I can always just sign the paperwork before I go and leave it with my attorney to deal with at the closing.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed, if this deal falls apart now it’ll be a huge setback.

Winter doldrums

20 01 2009

I do not like January and February. Maybe it’s just a holdover from my days as an auditor, when January and February were by far the busiest months of the year. Or maybe it’s that while the cold and snow in December is full of holiday cheer, the cold and snow in January and February are just cold and miserable. The past week and a half have lived up to that. Temperatures got down into single digits, we’ve gotten a few snow storms, and I am sick of winter. I don’t have a whole lot to do in terms of preparing for school, other than doing the small fix-it tasks around my apartment and just generally getting it ready to go on the market next month. I am excited for DAK in a few weeks, and enjoyed meeting some of my future classmates at a reception Kellogg had in the city last week. But overall, I just feel like I’m in a holding pattern.

On a separate note, today is a pretty historic day. Regardless of your political views, it will be special to see President-elect Obama stand – facing the Lincoln Memorial, facing where MLK gave his “I Have a Dream” speech – take the oath of office and become President of the United States.