Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Classmates Become Family


As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room in New Delhi, India while one of my classmates sleeps soundly. It is 11:30pm and in the rooms on either side of me and down the hall are more classmates. Somewhere in Chile there is a group of TCU MBA students planning what they will do this evening or where they will have dinner. Another group of Neeley MBAs are likely just wrapping up lunch in the Dominican Republic. One of my classmates is on his honeymoon, another classmate is enjoying his first Christmas with a new baby, another is celebrating a recent engagement, and many are spending time with family they unintentionally neglected this semester. For three weeks we are spread out all over the world, but we remain close. We are already family.

In August, as I arrived for the first day of pre-semester workshops, I never expected the next five months to go as they did. I was swapping a job for class, but other than that, nothing would change. I lived in DFW already. I had friends here. My family isn't too far away- just a quick drive to Austin.

The day before START workshop, my mother called me from the hospital. She was ill, but thought it was nothing. A few weeks later and still in the hospital, there were no answers. I continued to attend classed and had my mother moved to a hospital in Dallas where I could travel daily to stay with her. And so it was for months. Class, drive, hospital, drive, class, drive, hospital, drive... I found time to shower between classes and my classmates helped me stay on top of homework and reading.

While my family was hurting and my friends were working, my Neeley MBA classmates and faculty supported me. One by one, I came to rely on them for help with the square root rule when I was zoned out during supply chain; for a recap of which fashion case study went with which class when I couldn't keep them straight; for someone to laugh with for a few minutes before I got in the car to drive back to Dallas.

I studied finance and signed off on blood cultures. I read cases while my mom was having brain surgery. I explained the 9x rule to the doctor who was telling me about the new MRI they were considering. I chatted with my mom about Taryn Swan while we watched Nickelodeon. I pored through statistical analysis on my mother's symptoms. While I was doing my best to devote more time than I had to school and my mother, my mom just kept fighting... and she just kept getting worse.

My mother passed away on October 28th. The Neeley family- people I had only known a short time- kept me looking forward. Peggy, the Director of Graduate Admissions for the Neeley School, rushed to meet me at the hospital. Classmates surrounded me with love at my house. I had become so close to these people in such a short time.

TCU's Neeley MBA marketing materials tell us, "It's more than business. It's personal." We've all heard it from schools and employers before. But, at TCU, they mean it. I could not have asked to be surrounded by better people. I could never say enough to thank them for loving me.

Now it is 11:57pm in New Delhi. Tomorrow morning at 6:15am we depart for the Taj Mahal, a monument built out of love and mourning. I think of my TCU family with love and I thank them for helping me mourn. Visiting the the Taj Mahal with just a few of my TCU family seems the perfect end to an imperfect year and a perfect tribute to a more than perfect mom.

"Should the guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory."
-Emperor Shah Jahan

Monday, December 27, 2010

Death Cab

It’s best to close your eyes if it’s your first time in a taxi… in India.

I arrived in Delhi around 11:45 this morning. Many flights today had been canceled due to poor weather conditions, but it is difficult to divert a flight from London that has already been in the air for 8 hours. As I made my way from the terminal to customs I began to wonder what India would actually be like beyond the confines of an international airport. India really starts to hit you the moment you walk through customs. Hundreds of families and friends are waiting on their loved ones. Wading through them to make my way to the prepaid taxis was intense for a girl used to the wide open expanses of Texas.

I paid 350 Rupees and hopped in a black taxi. It looked very similar to the one I took yesterday from Paddington Station to London Heathrow, so logically, it should be safe. No?

The lines intended to separate the road into four lanes heading toward Delhi city center were more of a suggestion. As taxis, motorbikes, bicycles, handcarts, horses, tuk-tuks, and people on foot created an ever-changing landscape of anywhere between five and seven lanes, I realized I was in for the ride of my life.

I didn’t want to miss any of the sites as we drove. The air smelled thick and the taxi seemed to be going in circles. Manu, the taxi driver, wanted me to feel at home, so the drive was accompanied by a soundtrack of the Vengaboys … strange.

The hotel was 8 miles from the airport. Two hours and a stop by a travel information shop, I finally arrived at the hotel. Did we nearly run over a cyclist? Yes.

Truthfully, keep your eyes open. I saw the President’s Estate, a military base, a variety of businesses, a few markets, some startling images, and a new kind of beauty.

More to come — happy holidays from India!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Flying with Meds

Happy Christmas from London!

As I sit in the airport for the 3rd time this holiday season, preparing to board a plane from the UK to India, I feel pretty well averse in the ways of airport security. So a few minor tips to help you on your own journey.

1. Remember that epi-pens and inhalers rarely have a prescription sticker on the container. While inhalers don't pose a huge problem, your epi-pen might. Pharmacies in the US will reprint an extra label for your prescriptions that you can affix to the case. Check TSA regulations for the US and with your local airports. Some locations prefer that you declare the pen prior to going through security since there is a needle involved.

2. Bring an extra. Whatever it is that you need and whether you are traveling abroad or stateside, pack one inhaler in your carry on and an extra in your checked bag. Refills can be difficult when you aren't at home or aren't familiar with the area.

3. Pack all essentials in your carry on bag. Don't trust that your checked bag will arrive at the same time and place as you. If you need it, keep it with you.

4. When traveling internationally, get to the airport early on return flights. Don't take it personally, you will be in a foreign country and sometimes security can be a mess if you don't have a local address.

Happy travels and Merry Christmas!