Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sun Setting on 2014


As the sun is setting on 2014, I'm reminded of how an incredibly challenging, eye-opening, and exciting year it has been. I started the year ramping up my new business, Nuclear Undone, and making my first pay checks from clients as an independent consultant. I applied to business schools and was ecstatic when I received my admission letter from INSEAD. But, leaving everything and everyone behind in Chicago was difficult. I strongly second guessed my decision to go to school in France and the first few weeks were not easy. But as I started the program, I had so little time to think about these things and was completely distracted by the bubble of INSEAD.

As I'm sitting in Bali reflecting on the past year, I can't help but be thankful for the new friends I've made, the professors that have challenged my thinking, and the adventurous, multi-cultural mentality that I've found in myself and others at INSEAD.

So as we move on to 2015, my goal is to continue this adventurous mentality and keep challenging assumptions. I want to learn more from my INSEAD classmates and professors and explore new parts of the world in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and back in Europe. I don't know where my career will take me in the second half of this year after I graduate but I hope that you'll continue following my journey with me!

Happy New Year!

What are your goals for 2015?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Walking Tour of Budapest

As you know, my family is from Slovakia so I've spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe, especially as a child. My family and I traveled a bit around Europe during our trips to see the rest of the family. We went to Budapest on one of those trip and I remember it being a beautiful city so I was eager to go back when one of my fellow students suggested a girls trip to Eastern Europe.


We started our own walking tour at the parliament building (above) and then walked along the water to cross the Danube River via the Chain Bridge (below).



The views along the Danube are stunning and it was a beautiful walk despite the cold and gloomy weather. The WWII Jewish memorial (below) is a serious of shoes representing those that were shot



Taking the tram up to Buda Castle we were treated to some spectacular views of the city, and of course this made for a great photo op!




Matthias Church on Castle Hill has very exquisite architecture from the inside out. 



The views of the city were stunning to see at dusk as it got dark early (at 4pm!). Here you can see the Hungarian Parliament again from a far. There is a cafe right next to Matthias Church that provides a great place to heat up and enjoy the views of the city. 



Finally ending our long walk, it was time to recoup with dinner. Goulash is a very traditional Hungarian dish that you can find in most of Eastern Europe. It is a delicious beef-based stew with vegetables and spices. Perfect to warm up after a chilly winter day in Budapest. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Beautiful Amsterdam

There are many beautiful places in Europe but one of my favorites is Amsterdam. I decided to attend an impromptu trip for a fellow classmate's birthday and I was once again awed by the beauty of this city. We arrived on Saturday morning and met up with the rest of the crew and got a chance to walk around the canals and parks a bit. Followed by a delicious dinner and a night of birthday celebrations, Amsterdam was definitely worth the 6-hour drive from France. Can't wait to go back!








Love these people.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Apple Orchard and Cider Tour in Normandy

On our trip to Normandy we also wanted to experience a little of the French apple harvest during fall. We visited the Domaine Dupont orchard and were given an informative tour by the owner himself. Dupont produces Calvados apple liquor and cider. The property is beautiful and the recipes and processes are based on generations of knowledge. Everything made here still has that classic, non-industrial touch.



Apples, apples everywhere.




Cider-maker post MBA??


Tasting Calvados and cider. It's like spiked apple juice but better.


I was also excited to find apple-cider vinegar. How much more fresh from the farm can you get?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nice-Cannes Marathon Relay

I loved Nice when I went on my trip earlier this year so I was really excited to go back and participate in the Nice-Cannes Marathon. I joined a four-person relay team with my fellow classmates, Kush, Krystian, and Jonathan. While the exchange points were a little confusing, I loved running the marathon as a team. It was a great way to participate in the race without needing to train a lot for it. Kush had just completed a marathon so he was in great shape to run the longest leg. I ran roughly 8 km (~5 miles) at a great pace of 8:03 min/mile. 



The race course was beautiful, almost all along the Mediterranean Sea from Nice to Cannes. We were able to take the train along the coast to meet up at the relay exchange points and then to the finish in Cannes. 


In true INSEAD fashion, we had a few beers the night before the race. I'm pretty sure they helped us run fast.



The rest of my team before the race. We dressed like Frenchmen...




Some of the other students and I post-race refueling at an Italian restaurant. Overall a great trip and I can't wait to run another marathon relay!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Juicing for Health at INSEAD

My life at INSEAD has been pretty stressful, between class, group work, exams, dinners, parties, and traveling, I don't have much time to workout and eat healthy. With the stress of school and the less-than-healthy French food, I haven't felt my best.

I'm a big proponent of drinking daily juices and smoothies to optimize nutritional intake so I was excited when one of my classmates' partners, Samantha, announced that she would be selling juices on campus. I don't have time to constantly grocery shop for fresh ingredients and make my own drinks in the morning. I also don't have my vitamix (very sad). So, I prepaid Sam for a whole month to make me juices every day and I haven't felt sick since!



With the oncoming winter in France, my immune system will be challenged. Our cafeteria doesn't have great salad options so the green juice is a prefect way for me to get my daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Sam also adds spirulina and protein powder and makes a variety of juices everyday. I usually get the green but sometimes mix it up. Sam is also offered full juice cleanses once a week.

To get more information about ordering juices at INSEAD, contact Samantha here!


Love it when I get extra greens :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Day in History - Normandy

I love the fact that INSEAD is such an international school but I must say that some of the best friends I've made here are actually American. I think that our global mindset coupled with American upbringing make us get along quite well and have a lot in common. In addition, many of us, like me, are immigrants and have dual nationalities. 

The Americans and others organized a trip to see the historical sites of where Normandy was invaded on D-Day. It was interesting to see a piece of history that we learn about in school as the "turning point" in the war. Of course, other countries might see it differently, but in classic American fashion, it's when we came to save the day.



Omaha Beach monuments where the allies landed coming from England.



Diagram of other beaches that were invaded.


The American memorial cemetery close to Omaha Beach.


A moving and sad place to be, but it was very interesting to visit the museum and see the timeline of events and read about the troops stories and triumphs.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from France!

Happy Francegiving! Last night I hosted the INSEAD Americans for a lovely Thanksgiving feast at Chateau de Tavers, where I live. We made three turkeys and the 50 or so guests brought side dishes and desserts to share. It was a great night and I'm glad we got to have a little taste of home.







Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recipe: Moroccan Vegetable Couscous

It was great to get a break from French food and try some new things on our recent trip to Morocco. There were plenty of vegetables, couscous, and even some French influence with an abundance of sardines. Here's some images of food we ate in the Atlas Mountains and then a traditional vegetable couscous recipe.







Ingredients

2 cups cooked couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 carrots
2 russet potatoes
1 butternut squash
2 cups water
2 zucchini
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

Cook couscous according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until tender. Add spices, except for cilantro. Stir in carrots, potatoes, squash, and water and cook until vegetables are tender (about 30 minutes). If necessary add more water. Remove excess water once vegetables are tender and serve over the couscous. Add cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

French Food

Before my move to France to study at INSEAD, I wrote about why French Women Don't Get Fat and I must admit that I believe in much of what is in the book. French food tends to be rich and high-quality, but enjoyed in smaller portions. The bread doesn't make me feel bloated and seasonal vegetables are always used in meals. Our cafeteria food is pretty awesome and I'm having fun trying new things, like snail, in the restaurants of Fontainebleau and Paris. I enjoy the French love for seafood. My only major complaint about French food is the prevalence of diary. You can not get anything without cheese or milk. Although I try to avoid it, it's really difficulty to do so, and waiters do not really understand why i would want something "sans lait." Regardless, it's been fun exploring the food options in France and here are some ideas for your home cooking!


Snail, not as gross as it sounds.


Shrimp salad, with cheese sauce, of course.


Mussels and fries, my favorite!


Ni├žoise salad (recipe here)


And you can't have a French meal without a glass of wine!