Becoming a Bainie (from really far away)

One of my biggest concerns when I joined the Global Engagement program was how I was going to spend a semester abroad without missing really important things at home, namely opportunities to advance my career and OU football. I can’t say that I’ve been able to watch a lot of football this semester due to traveling most weekends, but I am happy to report that advancing my career from abroad ended up working out quite well.

I knew when I came here that I would be seeking an internship for next summer, but I honestly hadn’t put much thought into where until after I arrived. I knew management consulting was an option, and the more I looked into the different firms, the more I fell absolutely in love with Bain & Company, AKA one of the most selective firms. And I had just opted to spend all of their recruiting time 3,600 miles away from everyone else I knew applying who could help me prep for case interviews. If you aren’t familiar with case interviews, they basically give you a real-life consulting challenge that their team worked on for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, simplify it a bit, and tell you to solve it in 25 minutes. Cool. Challenge accepted.

I spent the month of September polishing up my resume and cover letters and sending them a few different directions within the management consulting world, which in hindsight seems kind of silly because of the firms, Bain was far and away the one I had the most interest in. I might have gone a different direction altogether without an offer there. I heard back pretty quickly from a couple of current consultants at Bain who offered to call and run practice case interviews with me. A few YouTube tutorials later, I was about as ready as I could be for my first practice cases. They were… not good. But hey, that’s what practice is for, right?

Within the week, I found out I had gotten a first-round interview, which came with more offers from Bainies to run cases with me. I got a little more familiar and comfortable with the process each time until my big day came. Quiet places and WiFi zones on my campus here are nearly mutually exclusive, but thankfully the study abroad coordinator here let me lock myself into a classroom by her office for the interview. Two cases later, I felt pretty good about my performance and was ready to take my fall break to relax in Galapagos. Come what may of the interview, I was going to have a good time.

When I landed in Galapagos a few days later and turned my phone on, I had a missed call and a voicemail from a Texas number. One of my interviewers had called back while I was on the plane and told me to give him a call when I could. That ended up being the best start to the vacation as I found out I would have a second round interview the next week! What normally would include traveling to the office for an in-person interview would have to be Skype for me again. I did my best to put it all out of my mind so I could snorkel with sea turtles in peace for the next couple days. I got home Monday night, had one more practice case on Tuesday, then interviewed Wednesday, this time from the comfort of my host family’s in-home office area. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I really felt I nailed the final interviews. The interviewers each told me that I would hear back really soon, but I didn’t realize “really soon” meant four hours later with great news.

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Needless to say, I was incredibly excited. I will be in the Houston office next summer working and learning alongside the best of the best. I did have to miss an offeree meetup weekend (in which I heard they went to Top Golf… sigh) but other than that, I missed absolutely nothing with regards to the recruitment and hiring process. I am so grateful for all of the Bainies who reached out to me along the way to help me through cases, answer my questions, and interview me for this position. I am so grateful for those who encouraged me to study abroad and assured me I wouldn’t regret it. I am SO SO SO grateful for this opportunity. Coming at ya, Houston, in summer 2017!

 

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Just another Wednesday in Quito!

Hi friends!

I’m still surviving and thriving here in Ecuador! A lot of people have asked my what a typical school day looks like here, so I actually tried to document it today with some photos. Here we go!

  1. I wake up (probably late because mornings are hard) and get ready for school as usual.
  2. I cross the street and wait for the big green bus. El cobrador is usually leaning out the door saying “Suba, suba, a Quito, a Rio Coca” (Come up, come up, to Quito, to Rio Coca, etc.) by the time they stop for me. I wait for him to come by to pay him 25 cents while I enjoy this amazing view:

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3. I go to class! On M/W/F, I have Conversacion Intermedia from 10-10:50 and Ecologia from 2-2:50. On T/Th, I have Lengua y Cine (Language and Cinema) from 10-11:20 and Creatividad Empresarial (Entrepreneurial Creativity) from 11:30-12:50. Here are some pictures of my school!

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4. I eat food! There are tons of awesome restaurants around campus, most of them pretty cheap. The cheapest almuerzos (lunches) I’ve found are $2.25 for a full meal. Today I splurged a little ($3.75, ha!) and tried out a vegetarian restaurant across the street from the university! It’s super good and definitely will be a favorite for my time here.

5. This is where my days vary a bit. Sometimes I stick around campus to hammock or go to the mall or somewhere with friends, but today I am going home with my pal Hannah so we can cook American food for her family!

That’s a pretty typical day for me! I’m enjoying so many wonderful things here and haven’t been too homesick yet (thanks, adventures, friends, and busy schedules), but I will have a full heart when I get to go home and see my family at Christmas! Thanks to everyone who has been praying for me and encouraging me throughout this time. I love you all so much!

Holly

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Just Jump!

Hi friends!

This weekend I went on an adventure that wasn’t entirely planned out for me, and no gringos were harmed in the process. Basically feeling like a celebration is in order!

Welcome to Mindo, a tiny town with a lot of adventure!mindo-hike mindo-butterfly snake mindo-pals jump

After some complications meeting up to catch the bus (and missing the bus that actually goes into Mindo), my new pals Jill, Loren and I arrived *almost* to Mindo, which means the bus dropped us off at the top of the hill. Four kilometers from Mindo. At night. Alone. So naturally, we start hiking through the warm drizzle, enjoying the strange bird and animal noises coming from both sides of the road, until a kind stranger with a pickup truck offers us a lift to the town.

Our next two days would be full of new friendships, good food, rafting, ziplining (videos to come, but I’m out of space on my computer), and jumping off of increasingly high structures into fast-moving water. See photos for my biggest jump.

The air was thick, traffic didn’t exist, and the warmth of the day held on through the night, making walking around after dark a pleasant change from the chill of Quito.

I’m so glad I took a big leap and did some almost-independent travel this weekend!

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Viaje a Papallacta

Hace una semana, fuimos a la hermosa ciudad de¬†Papallacta para una aventura ūüôā aqui es un video!

One week ago, we went to the beautiful city of Papallacta for an adventure! Here is a video!

P.S. those are hot-spring-fed pools at the end. Effectively giant hot tubs. Really helped me melt off the stress of a heartbreaking Sooner football loss.

 

 

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Quick Updates from Quito!

Hola amigos!

Sorry in advance that this is short and not very eloquent. I’m pretty tired from travel and altitude still. ūüôā

I’m writing from my new bedroom in Quito, Ecuador, which so far is much cleaner than my bedroom in Oklahoma or in Iowa. Fingers crossed I can keep that up for a semester!

I have a stash of snacks on my desk (fruit snacks, peanut butter, and Nutella) and 22 pictures of the people and places I love taped up on my wall above.

My family lives on the second floor of an apartment building, but the entire second floor is our home, with neighbors above and below. It took some practice, but I can use my keys without help now, and I count that as a win.

Everyone and their mom and especially my mom has asked about safety, so here it is: the streets here are safe during the day, save for the crazy traffic, and a bit more dangerous at night, much like any big city. I will carry my backpack on my front when I ride the bus because pickpocketing does happen some.

All in all, things are much the same here: we use the US dollar, we dial 911 in an emergency, and I even get to keep using Sprint. Looking outside, I might think Pichincha, the giant mountain outside my window, was just another one of the Rockies.

But it’s not. Today I went to International Student Orientation. I walked around campus in a large group of gringos, led by an Ecuadorian student whose Spanish was significantly¬†better than mine. I will soon be on the other end of a program similar to OU Cousins– Ecuabuddies. I’m 3,000 miles from my family and 6,200 miles (and seven time zones) from my boyfriend.

Everything is the same, and nothing is the same, and so far I’m okay with that. I’m sleeping a lot to adjust to the altitude, which has kind of kicked my booty thus far. I’m sure there will be moments of culture shock to come, but for now, I’m settling in to life with my family! School starts Monday, and I’m excited and also very nervous to see if I can keep up with the professors’ Spanish. PTL my classes here are pass/fail… that should about counter my limited language skills!

More updates to come!!

Holly

Working Abroad Event

When a class event got cancelled earlier this year, I suddenly found myself with an hour and a half later in the day with nothing going on– a rare thing for me this semester. ¬†I checked my email and saw that a different event was happening at the same time. ¬†The event was called “How To Use a Foreign Language in a Finance Career”, and though I’m mildly interested at best in finance careers, I’m always interested in learning how to leverage a foreign language in the job application process.

The presentation was fairly relaxed as OU grad Chaundra Crouch shared her non-traditional entry into a finance career simply by taking on every project she could and working diligently with the skills she had.

She had some great advice for living and working abroad, particularly in Europe, which was helpful as that is certainly not something I have written off after finishing undergrad.  She, having come also from a small town, shared perspective that was incredibly accurate to the feelings I have when I return home and have conversations with people about the world and the things I have seen and done.

The event was a great time to see other OU students interested in living and working abroad or in a very international context.  I was grateful for the cancellation and the chance to spontaneously go to an event that got me thinking seriously about the opportunities that lie ahead!

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Ecuador Semester

Last winter I posted saying I had nearly solidified my plans to spend this spring semester in Ecuador… well, if you keep up, you’ll know that changed! ¬†For a variety of personal, academic, and social reasons, my family, ¬†friends and I agreed it would be best to wait until this fall. ¬†With everything that happened this semester, especially the loss of my grandma and the earthquake in Ecuador, I am grateful that I was able to be closer to home during this time.

That said, I am SO excited to buckle down this summer and prepare for my semester in Quito at USFQ!

I am enrolled in four classes: Language and Cinema, Spanish Conversation, Business Creativity, and Ecology and Resources of Ecuador!  All of these classes will be in Spanish, and that actually terrifies me, but I know that and the host family will be the absolute best way for me to return with something close to fluency in Spanish.

I don’t know anything about my host family yet, but I am anxiously awaiting an assignment and contact information so I can begin to prepare and to buy gifts for them! (Side note, I accidentally brought Dinosaur Egg Oatmeal to Tanzania last summer, and that was a big hit with my host family. 10/10, would recommend, and I’m definitely bringing it to Ecuador!)

My departure also will kick off the 12 months of long-distance relationshipping that will occur as my boyfriend is studying for the entire academic year in Bologna, Italy. ¬†Super excited for this opportunity for him, and super hopeful that I will be distracted enough in Ecuador that it won’t be too hard at first. <3

Now that finals are over, my big objectives for the summer include translating my syllabi for course credit approval, getting a Visa, and reeeeeally buckling down with Spanish. ¬†I’m staying in Norman through June in part to have access to the language lab and other Spanish speakers.

I’m terrified, thrilled, and anxious for it all to begin. ¬†One way or another, Ecuador 2k16, here I come!

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Tea Time with Global InterVarsity

This semester was tough, man.

It started out hard, as I was a part of Integrated Business Core at OU. ¬†Twenty¬†business students meet at the beginning of the semester and are running a company together and volunteering regularly while taking classes within three weeks. ¬†It’s the “lost semester” of business students because social lives really don’t exist.

On top of that, I started off the semester with mono. ¬†Even after the three weeks of “sick” wore off, the exhaustion never went away this semester.

I also said goodbye to my grandma in April as she went to be with the Lord.

Needless to say, when I was able to go to Tea Time, it was a sweetly welcome relief from the chaos of life. ¬†I met a guy from Peru and spoke to him quite a bit about my semester abroad plans in the not-so-far country of Ecuador. ¬†I met girls from France and Italy and heard their first impressions from arriving in the U.S. only three weeks earlier. ¬†I continued my friendship with a Bangladeshi gal who confided in me that she was pregnant and was excited but nervous so she hadn’t told many people here yet (don’t worry, she’s since announced it.) ūüôā

Going to Tea Time and having students from all over the world meet together in a room reminded me just how big this world is and how tiny my problems and stress are in comparison. ¬†It also reminded me how small the world can feel when you’re surrounded by people who care deeply about you and know that even tiny problems are legitimate. So grateful for sweet friends and happy, crowded times in full apartments. <3

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When the World Around You Crumbles

April 16, 2016

I was tucking myself in early after a long day when I read the news. ¬†Countless other things had been running through my head– namely, my new major (International Business), my grandma’s health, and the fact that I still had very little idea what I wanted to do with my life as a sophomore in college. ¬†Normally my bedtime routine involves turning my phone off half an hour before I sleep and doing some reading, but this particular night I decided to get on Twitter. ¬†As soon as I did, I saw the tweets:

“Massive earthquake strikes Ecuador; dozens dead.” ¬†

“7.8 earthquake in coastal Ecuador.” ¬†

“State of emergency in Ecuador declared as President Rafael Correa returns early from visit with Pope Francis.” ¬†

I felt so small for thinking my major change and uncertain life plans were earth shattering.   My heart sank as I frantically began to search for answers.  I had to know if my school was okay.  I had to know if my girls, Nicol and Cristina, were okay.

I was finally able to determine the epicenter of the earthquake was in northwest Ecuador along the coast. ¬†That was also where all of the deaths and most of the damage had occurred, which meant that while students at my school and my sponsor girls had almost certainly felt the quake, they were out of harm’s way.

I immediately felt sick for feeling grateful that other people had died.

By the time I went to sleep, the death toll was over 100; by the next morning, it had almost tripled.  The final number stands at 654 people who lost their lives in the earthquake.

The only thing I could do was also the best thing I could do: pray.  In a moment when the pain in my heart was so great, and when the pain in the hearts and lives of so many was greater, the one who is called the Healer held my heart in his hands.  When I had no answers, the one with a great plan promised to give a future and a hope to his people.

Take heart, friends. ¬†Whatever it is you’re going through, if the world around you crumbles, He will be strong for you, too.

‚ÄúI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ¬† ¬†¬†– Jesus

 

 

P.S. If you would like to contribute financially to the relief in Ecuador, the organization through which I sponsor Nicol and Cristina, Compassion International, has set up a website here where you can do that.

Eve of Nations ‚Äď 2016

Last week, as every week this semester, was crazy.  My planner looks about like a child with a new pack of pens scribbled all over every hour of the day.  By the time Friday night rolled around, I wasn’t sure whether or not I would be able to squeeze in a trip to Eve of Nations until about ten minutes before it started, and even then I had to convince myself it wouldn’t be better just to go home and catch up on sleep.  I convinced myself to go, if only for a while, and if I was too tired I wouldn’t feel bad going home early.

Due to my inability to plan ahead, I went alone and bought a dinner ticket at the door.  Though I had expected to sit beside strangers from around the world, I ended up enjoying a wonderful dinner with past, current, and future OU students from the U.S.  As we talked about who we knew in the show and why we were there, we realized we all came to see someone different; nevertheless, it was a fun environment where we felt like we were all cheering for the international community as a whole as they dressed up, sang, danced, and played instruments to reflect the countries and cultures in which they had grown up.

Though there were countless incredible performers, my two favorite performances of the night came from the Indian Student Association and the Angolan Student Association, both of which ended up in the top three!  The Angolan Student Association came away with the victory, and the joy on their faces was unmistakable as they danced, hugged, and cheered through the remainder of the evening.  It was so sweet to watch!

My favorite aspect of the evening was watching the support and unity that existed between the various student groups.  It was even more special to me knowing that I myself will be an exchange student in just four short months.  I don’t know what to expect as far as the community that will exist in Ecuador among international students.  I don’t know if USFQ has an organization similar to our International Advisory Committee that will help us plan events like Eve of Nations.  However, I do hope to have opportunities like this to be reminded of home, to embrace my own culture, and to share that with others around the world, even if that is only for my host family and the families of the other OU students.

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