The first day of school

Hi friends/internet/my inner monologue if I’m just talking to myself!

Stories have been building in my head and heart and while I’m still not sure of the right forum to share them, returning to this blog seemed like a nice place to start.

Today I’m inspired to share feelings from some wonderful adventures I’ve had over the past couple of weeks, that both have origins from first days of school.

I spent the last week visiting my friend Wendy and her husband Andrew, who have recently moved to Bermuda. Also joining on the trip is our friend from college, Leah and her husband JJ and another friend, Jesse. Leah, Wendy and I all attended our undergraduate together at St. Olaf College. Leah was my assigned roommate my freshman year and Wendy lived across the hall from us. Leah and I lived together sophomore year as well, and Wendy was also across the hall from us. So, our friendship dates back to 2003. 20 years ago. We’re 37 and 38 years old, so I have known these ladies over half my life. Crazy, right?!

There are many stories I can tell about our friendship and how it’s ebbed and flowed through life, or some of the ridiculous antics we’ve made it through together, over the years. Inevitably when we get together, a few of these come out and we laugh until we cry.

Before Bermuda, I was in Barcelona, Spain, for some meetings that I had previously canceled because I had been sick the prior month. I had to travel East from Minnesota to Bermuda and there aren’t a lot of great flight options, so I looked into, what if I flew even further East to Europe and had some quick make-up meetings in Spain and the UK, from which there are direct flights from London to Hamilton, Bermuda. Et voila. 2 birds with 1 stone/suitcase (also a peak into the chaos that is my mind, as to why I think of these types of options).

I had a wonderful time in Barcelona and I think that Barcelona deserves it’s own post for another day. But the long and the short of it is, in 2021 I started a Global Executive MBA at IESE Business School, based in Barcelona, Spain. The school is in a unique format, that drew me too it. The average age of the class is 40, we had 8 modules around the world (meaning we would get our materials and prep then meet in the location for classes and meeting with local businesses and business leaders, then we’d go back home and do all of our tests and papers. Then we’d rinse and repeat.). But one of the coolest things to me was that the class was was from all over the world. In fact, I was the only person who was born and raised the United States, in my whole class. Crazy, right?

I was lucky enough to meet-up with quite a few friends and acquaintances while I was in Barcelona, but the stories I want to share are around my school-assigned core teammates. This is the group that the school assigned us to all work together, and part of the reason we were assigned together was because of our different backgrounds and ways of working. My friend, Driss, who was born in Morocco, now lives in Spain with his wife Montse and daughter, Nora. They invited me to dinner at their house and it was lovely. Also in our group is my friend, Kirill. Kirill and his wife, Victoria, are both from Ukraine. A few months into the war, their family made the impossible decision for Victoria and the kiddos to move to the Barcelona area, as Kirill is mandated by law to stay in Ukraine. I visited Victoria in Sitges while I was in Spain, and we went out to dinner and visited the ocean and went dancing and I ended up spending the night in the guest room, before taking the train back in the morning.

I’m taking a moment to pause here and reflect – how amazing is life and how blessed I am to have these friends that live in these cool places that welcome me to their homes and allow me to experience what life is like in other countries and just get to see such beautiful places.

But both of these stories started with me being scared and thinking I had made the wrong decision and was out of place. In my first night at Hoyme Hall (my freshman dorm) I cried myself to sleep thinking, I don’t know if I will be able to make friends or fit in. After the first day of class at my MBA program, where Driss and Kirill were 2 of the 4 people I spent most of my time with as it was still COVID era and the school tried to limit our contact with others meaning we ate our meals and did our discussions with our group, I also cried myself to sleep thinking that I was in over my head and that I didn’t belong at this school.

Fast forward 20 years, and 2 years, and in many ways, these people know me better than I know myself. Not only was school a wonderful experience in both cases, the people I met along the way are in large part of what made it so amazing. In both Bermuda and Barcelona, we talked about the fun times, but we also talked about our hopes and dreams and my friends helped encourage me in ways that are hard for me to see about myself.

For my first post back to the blogging world in years, I wanted to share this thought of hope that has resonated with me. We plant seeds in the dark soil. We give them light and love (and water) and hope that there is growth that we can’t see. Please keep watering and loving the seeds you’ve planted, and trust that when the time is right, they will bloom.

Selfie from Bermuda (May 2023)

Selfie from Bermuda, May 2023

Cheering on our friend at a track meet, May 2004.

Team 3 preparing Tortilla Española in April 2021

Dinner in Barcelona and exploring Sitges in May 2023

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