The Holiday Cheer at Darden

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A very happy 2013 to all my readers (yes, all three of you out there :) !).

My last blog-post came more than 5 months ago. I attribute my inaction squarely to the idyllic and lazy lifestyle of a Darden Second Year – a welcome change after an action-packed First Year. That’s not to say I haven’t been busy – I have been. Very.. But its been ‘good’ kind of busy – busy by self-selection, busy without countless looming deadlines, busy exploring stuff I’m REALLY interested in, and busy deepening my relationships with larger Darden community. Oh how I love being an SY! Anyway, I just wrapped-up my long-awaited vacation back home in India - a whirlwind tour of 6 cities with friends and family in tow. But I wasn’t be too sad saying my goodbyes: Because in Darden and in all its awesomeness, I feel snugly at home. And what reinforces this feeling is the way we celebrate the holidays here.

The holidays are a particularly warm and festive time for internationals students at Darden.  As an incorrigible foodie, I’m particularly passionate about the events that bring the community together over some delicious feast.  The Office of Student Affairs’ (OSA) Thanksgiving Dinner is a great example of this.  Note: the OSA is awesome, in general.  The staff support you through the coursework and recruiting (which can get overwhelming at times) and quite often organize events these kinds of events to make international students feel at home in Charlottesville. It has been great to learn about this fun American tradition while devouring delicious turkey and sipping wine.  This is a meal I’ll cherish long after I leave Darden.  Because, how often do you get to flash the ‘Rock-On’ sign with the best business school dean in the world?  This super-candid moment is an accurate advertisement of what Darden experience is all about..

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Photo credits: My Darden classmate and dear friend, Shep Friedman

But the cultural experience at Darden is a two-way street.  Not only do international students get to experience American customs, we also have the opportunity to share our own cultural traditions with the Darden community.  The Darden South Asia Society’s Diwali Cold Call – a celebration of the Indian festival of lights – is a particular favorite of mine that is held in Darden’s main PepsiCo Forum (although I may be a bit biased as one of the organizers of the event!).  The event is open to the entire Darden community and guests are encouraged to eat tasty Indian food and dance to boisterous Bollywood numbers.

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Photo credits: Ankit Virmani (D’14)

One-third of my Darden MBA class (D’13) is made up of international students – from South America to Europe to Africa to Asia. One of my absolute pleasures being here has been sharing the MBA experience with Darden’s global community, through events like Thanksgiving or Diwali, or through Darden’s many student affinity clubs which help to turbo-charge the school’s efforts to integrate the student body and facilitate community interaction.  I couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate the holidays.

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