Monday, August 22, 2011

The MBA Project: Day One

First Day of School! First Day of School!  <--Picture a little bitty clownfish saying that.  That's how my morning went. :-)  Well it went like that and, "Crap, I have to get cat food before class.  Is this yogurt parfait going to last me through a morning?  Should I have bought a portfolio folder to take notes in instead of this $1.00 3 ring binder?  Thank you, hair, for cooperating this morning.  I really hope traffic on the 15 isn't as awful as usual."

Purple is my Power Color.  Rahr!
And it was all fine.  The cat food was purchased and I made it to orientation on time.  In fact, I was a few minutes early.  I was lucky this morning, and in more ways than one.  See, it's faster for me to take the major freeway that runs more inland than it is for me to go the one that hugs the coast.  Said freeway is usually a nightmare in a couple of spots, but overall it's usually a shorter and easier ride.  However, it is the only freeway that has a toll HOV lane, and as I approached an entrance, I thought to myself, "Hey, I have plenty of loose change.  Why don't I just hop on the FasTrak?"

What I did not realize is that said HOV lane does not collect tolls at booths, but at wireless transmitters mounted to the vehicles who use it.  Carpools, however, are free.  I was neither of those, sooooo....


Unless there is a camera somewhere that caught the Grey Goose and me speeding along, I dodged a bullet there.

Don't worry--I literally just went online and registered to get a FasTrak transmitter, like, eight and a half minutes ago.

This also gave me pause to re-consider my relocation strategy while I'm doing this program.  Instead of making a concession on the roommate thing, I may make a concession on living off of the 15 freeway instead of trying to get closer to the 5.  We'll see.

Anyway, I made it to orientation on time and in one piece.  Honestly, to try to recount the day would be taxing on both you, the reader, and me, the person who already has a 30 page article to read tonight for class at 9 am tomorrow.  Let me just suffice it to say that I am absolutely, completely, 198% reaffirmed in my decision to pursue an MBA.  I've met some really interesting and diverse people in my cohort of 38, the faculty, and the MBA team.  We've got two students from Mexico who are earning the dual degree with the Tecnol√≥gico de Monterrey, one guy from Iran, one from Saudi Arabia, one from Spain, and one who I think is from Switzerland (he didn't specifically say where he was from--only that he earned his undergrad in Zurich), and a healthy mix of native San Diegans (who exist in larger numbers than I once thought), other transplants like myself, and a ton of people who are transitioning out of military service--mostly the Navy.

In the afternoon we even started our first class in Strategic Thinking, and wouldn't you know it--the professor is German!  He never outright said it, but after about three sentences out of his mouth I thought, "Ahhhh, I know that accent well..." and he did briefly say that he studied/worked mostly in Germany before earning his PhD in the UK.  Anyway, I just thought that was amusing.  Maybe I'll surprise him one day this week and answer something in German.  Maybe.

Anyway, it was a lot of information to absorb in one day, and as I previously stated, I already have a reading assignment.  I ran some reports from home after I stopped by the campus bookstore to pick up my Financial Accounting materials, drove the 45 mile trek home and ate a late dinner, so I'm getting a rather late start on that.  However, it must be done.

Ah, welcome to grad school.

And now I shall leave you on this this lovely photo of the garden terrace behind one of the buildings on campus.  You can see Sea World from here.  For real.

USD doesn't get ranked #1 for the Most Beautiful Campus for nothing, y'all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The MBA Project: Twas The Night Before Orientation

Well, here we are.  Tomorrow is the first day of a week long orientation for the evening MBA program at the University of San Diego.  I'm excited, but it's a mellow excitement.  Mostly I don't know what to expect and I don't want to raise my expectations to a fever pitch.  My textbooks have been ordered, my pre-course MBTI test taken, my bio and photo for the cohort profile submitted, and I've got 5 killer business school outfits lined up for the week.  I am ready.

I did have all sorts of notions of productivity, health, and mindfulness for this final weekend before I launch into a life of case studies and accounting terms.  I figured I could go for a run or at least a long walk around the neighborhood, study my self-made German flash cards, or work diligently on my dance costume.  However, that gave way to a weekend of eating and drinking on the company dime, having brunch with my friends and their kids, and cleaning the most obscure parts of my kitchen.  Friday evening my place of business sponsored a private cabana area to watch the races at Del Mar and Saturday they rented out a private patio and stands at PETCO Park for the Padres vs. Marlins game.  Just some of the benefits of staying employed while I take on this business school project. :)

But here I am with a lap full of kitty and new MacBook Pro, probably gearing up to watch something out of my Netflix queue instead.   Life will change after this, and surely for the better, but definitely for the busier.  So I must indulge myself in some lazy Sunday evening activity while I still can...

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Today I went poking around the discussion boards on Blackboard, an online course management system.  A few of my peers in the MBA program are looking for housing/roommates.

And I've started to consider that maybe, just maybe, I should concede to reality and consider getting a roommate.  Maybe even someone who's also in school?  With good affordable housing so hard to find, something has to give, right?  A lot of these room shares are in nice neighborhoods--some are even in houses with *gasp* a garage!  Maybe my car insurance would drop enough to offset some of the increase in rent...

I know that I have vehemently declared that I am through with roommates, but I also have to be realistic about my situation.

Well anyway, it's just something to consider...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chasing Pavements & Apartments

Well, I have two and a half weeks before school kicks off with my Orientation Week. Oddly enough, it hasn't quite sunk in even with money already starting to come out of my wallet and e-mails coming from my advisor on a semi-regular basis.

Perhaps I'm in denial?

Don't get me wrong--I'm excited, but until I've started meeting my cohort and taking notes, I don't think it's real to me yet.

However, reality has still come a -knockin'. I've long since declared that I would move to be closer to school, but just how far I would move and when has been a bit...hazy.

See, I have some constraints that make finding affordable housing a bit of a challenge. For one, I've been through over a dozen roommates in the last 10 years and I've made the proclamation that I would be taking no more until it's time to settle down. (Note: there may be a loophole clause if/when I go abroad to study and really need a flatmate in order to afford housing and/or keep me from becoming a hermit expatriate--but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

Southern California is expensive, and North County San Diego is *really* expensive, so most people my age and/or income level do not live alone. I've been doing it for the past 4 years and I'm not about to give it up yet. So this presents challenge #1: finding a 1 bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood that won't cost half my monthly net income.

And then there's my second challenge--having a pet. I don't know if San Diego is more or less pet friendly than other areas of the country, but I do seem to sense that it's less. Or rather, it's more succeptible to "pet rent" and additional deposits ranging rom $200-$500 on top of the regular deposit. I got extremely lucky in finding a landlord who charges neither. However, most of the listings in my area seem to want extra money for every four legged friend you want to bring along.

Third challenge? I hate apartment complexes. HATE THEM. With a passion. I hate everything about them--the close quarters with neighbors, shifty tenants, crappy parking, roving packs of wild children, lethargic property management and their lying online ads...need I go on? The only good complexes are the kind that have, like, 12 units and such low turnover rates that you have to wait until someone dies in order to get in.

The result when I look for new places to live is that I get depressed, angry, and frustrated. Mostly depressed.

Feeling sorry for myself won't do me much good, however. I sat down and did the math today and if I was to stay put and not move at all, commuting to work, to school, and to my dance class once a week would be about 293 miles of driving. And that's *just* doing those things and does not account for errands, social occasions, trips, etc.

I've identified two likely living scenarios based on my price point, and that's to either move laterally over closer to the coast and be marginally closer to work, much closer to my dance class, and a tiny bit closer to school, OR move way the heck down south, live very close to school and far from work and dance class, BUT work from home 2-3 days a week.

I laid the three scenarios out together--stay put, move to Oceanside, or move down south to be somewhere in a 10 mile radius of campus, and the winner was clear--moving down south and telecommuting to work will save me about 50-100 miles of driving a week.

Last night I also sat down and made a list of pros and cons for the two areas to move to and I came to a bit of a stalemate there because staying up north would keep me close to everything upon which I've built my life for the past 5+ years, however, moving down south would put me close to all of the things that have been a pain in the ass to get to for the past 5+ years, lol. For example the airport, downtown, the really good malls, Balboa Park, social events for organizations I'd like to be more involved with (i.e. Kappa, German language meetup groups, bellydance workshops, etc.). So what holds more weight?  One of my cousins boiled it down to this: "Less commuting=happiness".  And I tend to agree.  Living close to school and having a negligible drive to class 2 (and perhaps eventually 3) nights a week and just doing two or three big drives per week to work does sound rather nice. 

So I suppose we'll see how this plays out over the next few months. Unfortunately, with school expenses and lingering expenses from my big trip still in play, I don't have the funds readily available to plunk down for a deposit on a rental property right now anyway. Thus I will have to do the ungodly commute to work and school for at least a month or two.

I am optimistic that all will work itself out soon, but in the meantime I continue to keep a watchful eye out...