An XLer on Xchange – Madhumita’s Diary – Thirty days hath September

(An XLer on Xchange Series by Madhumita – Read other posts here)

The physical beauty of Darden always takes me by surprise & it was no different on my first day there. The magnificent architecture & the pristine atmosphere made me feel as though I was in a dream. Everyone was so friendly & courteous that I wanted to come back to class just to be greeted by people! It was like XLRI had given me this big gift with many layers & each time I uncovered a layer like an eager 5 year old, I was surprised with something new. But the core of the gift was definitely the professors here. I have been in love with them since my first day at Darden. Their way of teaching, the kind of atmosphere they create in class & the freedom they give you to express your ideas has been fantastic. XLRI has shown me what quality professors should be like & Darden just reinforced my belief that it is these wonderful people who make ones educational experience a delight. I know I must be sounding so NERDY right now(or chaatu as my college friends would say!), so I will move away from this topic 😀

My first week at Darden got over in a flash, what with me trying to get a hang of the college activities, finding my way through the University of Virginia(UVa) grounds(Darden is just a small part of this beautiful university that Thomas Jefferson helped create) & getting to know Charlottesville (mundane stuff like grocery shopping can become so tough when you have no idea of the lay of the land!!). Everything here is located at quite a distance & owning a car becomes essential, say most of the people who live here. Lucky for me, my roommate has a car & she helped me out with my chores in those initial days. But more importantly, the bus service here is great & free for all UVa students (which I have made full use of!). There were many firsts during this time, my first taste of Japanese food, my first neon party, my first visit to Walmart & WholeFoods & Best Buy, and of course my first meetings with the VPs, senior consultants, CEOs of important companies such as Bain & Co, McKinsey, Prudential Financials, Medtronic etc as part of my General Management Workshop class (Ah! the joy of discussing strategy with the best… J)

Post the first 2 weeks of skinny-dipping in this sea of options, I decided to take my big leap & took a trip to Washington. This will remain etched in my memory as something beautiful always. My trip by Amtrak (a high-five to the American Railway system!) brought me to the Union Station, itself a sight to see. I went on to see the US Capitol building(its so huge & magnificent that I wanted to just sit & stare at it all day!), the Jefferson Library of Congress, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the Roosevelt Memorial and the list goes on. I took a ride on the night tour of Washington & the lights & beauty of the city at night mesmerised me. But the most fun visits in Washington were to the Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of Art. I loved preening at the beautiful artwork and tinkering or posing with the model airplanes! Being back from Washington was like returning from an opera viewing(my ears resonated with the melody of the place for a while!)

 

During one of my classes in Darden, Ann Taylor, COO of Montecello (the non profit organization that maintains Thomas Jefferson’s mansion) came for a guest session & that became the impetus for a bunch of us to go & actually see the place. It was like a day-long picnic with the beautiful property of Mr.Jefferson for company. A unique thing about Montecello is that Mr.Jefferson had built all the beds in the house in cubboard style(with walls on three sides and opening on one).He believed it helped save space though I feel if you were Mr.Amitabh Bachchan or Mr.Ravi Shastri, you definitely wouldn’t like it! We roamed around the grounds & even did a bit of trekking(unknowingly!) & slipping & sliding were definitely part of the package.. 😀

But the most memorable event in September was the International Food Festival which rounded off the month of September for me.28 different countries were represented & the Darden lawns were filled with delicious smells of a variety of food items from different countries on 30th September. A group of 20 people represented the India camp & I was one of them. I & a couple of others prepared chicken biryani for the occasion with pav bhaji, bhel puri & phirni making up the rest of our menu(each dish was for 200 people!). We also did a dance performance on a combo of songs- Chammak Challo, Sadi Galli & Jai Ho. I danced again after 12 years & it was tremendous fun(the fact that the continuous practise for the same made the muscles of my body ache is a different thing.. J) It was an evening of revelry & joy and the cherry on this very pretty cake was when we won the Students Choice Award for Best Overall Performance.

International Food Festival

 

About Me

I am a Bengali whose home is in Anand, Gujarat. I did my engineering from NIT Surat and then worked for two years in the R&D wind of Avaya Telecommunication in Pune. I am currently pursuing my MBA in HR from XLRI. I did my summer internship in TAS and am currently on exchange to Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, USA. My hobbies are reading fiction, cooking and public speaking. I am a classically trained singer and have a senior diploma in painting.

(An XLer on Xchange Series by Madhumita – Read other posts here)

 

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