My life in a blog

IMBA Chinese Track student at The University of South Carolina, Moore Business School, I'm currently living in Columbia, SC and traveling all over the place

Check out my other blog: My life in pictures or better check out my Flickr account

Sunday, February 25, 2007

ready to start the journey?

Am I ready to leave or not? This is the question...

Well, weather I am or not is not an issue now that I already bought the tickets, done packing and said hello to friends and family.

This week in Romania was very busy and enchanting in the same time.

Mon-Wed - I did a lot of formalities, applied for a new ID here, did all my medical checkups, spent some time at the dentist, played tennis and saw most of my family

Thu As it was my dad's birthday, I spent the day with him... we went to the gym in the morning and played squash and meet some family friends late at night. I also had the chance to see a lot of my friends from the Rotaract Club this day. On the downside, both Bucharest teams lost in the European Cups, but it's not a tragedy!

Fri I started the day very lazy... but managed to hopefully do something good for China: put the Beijing GPS map on my PDA. Hopefully it will work in Beijing so that I know where I am all the time. The rest of the day was dedicated to my English teacher and my friends

Sat, Sun Started packing and organizing for the upcoming trip. I'm now ready at least ... I hope I am.

Just as an update, I hope all my friends coming to Beijing that lost their flights to Chicago today come there as soon as possible so we can have dinner!! Next post... CHINA (I hope they will let me do that)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Back in Europe

I'm finally sitting in a more quiet place in the Frankfurt-Mein airport.Believe it or not, this is very difficult to find...
I can swear that ever since I landed here, I have been surrounded by people everywhere. It is by far the busiest airport I have ever seen. Well, probably being around 8:30Am didn't help out either.

There are a couple of things that have changed since my last visit. First, the most obvious, is the presence of so many Indian people. I can't believe it... you go in every room of this airport and you will find people from India everywhere. I'm sure you can get by today here just by speaking Hindi. Secondly, it is so busy that even the Business Lounges have a small line to get in, the bars, the shops and restrooms are filled with people. We are only in February... I don't understand!
Lastly, now with Romania being in the European Union, i just realized that there is no more a duty free status with our country. Before, going to Romania meant going outside of the Union but now... NOT ANY MORE.

As I'm writing this post, a Chinese movie won the Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear for the best movie award. Wow!
Next stop... Bucharest, Romania

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It has been a fun 8 month is South Carolina. I've been through a completely set of new experiences. Coming from an engineering background and studying business is was not very easy.

To be honest, before starting this program I didn't realize how business is actually part science and part feel. I more than always saw it as mostly gut or just a chain of good decisions.
Being in a foreign country, studying, living and communicating there brings so many advantages.
+ meet new people = it is wonderful to meet people different from you, who have other backgrounds, experiences and ideas. Most of the times, you get attached to these people, share your ideas and connect faster than you think you would be capable to.

+ it was a great time of learning and studying. The immersion into new subjects, new discussions and new perspectives on business issues was new to me. For once I could change my point of view from a simple consumer perspective to a more analytical, focused on why, what price and where companies promote and sell products.

+ started to study Chinese is still one of the areas that is very new. Even though I had 1 month worth of training, I am able to understand some basic simple phrases, and hopefully able to reproduce with good clarity the five tones. In the same time , I realized how different can be speaking, listening, writing, reading and communicating with someone else in a completely new language. It has never happened to me before to study a language that I have completely no idea about. Everything has a start...

+ in the meantime, I realized that I don't have a great business idea yet, but I have an angle, an orientation to find one and hopefully be able to implement. I am also lacking the experience to start a business right away, I need to work more, to gain more experience so I can limit the risks. Sometimes I just get a new business idea or something that is not there yet. Unfortunately, I can't asses right away if it would be a profitable one, implementable or how to do it and what it is its final use. I just have an idea and for a minute I believe in it. During the Lufthansa flight, I was thinking of a website to categorize different flights and airlines based on the service they are offering so next time someone would go online and buy tickets, they know what to expect. But would this be helpful? Would it be profitable? Would it be a good idea? Who knows...

It's been an intense 8 month and even though I don't know what I want to do yet in life, I know some things I don't want to do.

Now, moving to Beijing seems to be a crazy step. And so it is... I still can't believe I will be living in China for the next one year and a half. I think one doesn't realize it until you are in a flight as I am right now. Anyways, for these couple of days, I will be busy in at my home to get ready for the next big step... CHINA.
The time in South Carolina had an end, Romania time will have one and China will follow with another end. I still don't know what to do in life, but I am opened to explore and ready for a new journey...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Travelling ... or how to get light suitcases

As many, I struggle a lot when trying to keep my luggage within airline boundaries. Normally, across the ocean the limit is bearable (2 suitcases @ 23 kg + 1 carry-on @ 8-12kg), but even then, I go over the edge.
Normally, I don't even think of the suitcase's weight and only consider the total weight (luggage + stuff).

Just lately, I was constraint to think of this aspect more. I will be flying to China in 3 weeks and, for various reasons I have chosen Austrian Airlines as airline to take me there. While being a very reliable airline, it is expensive and made me think about my luggage weight. Why?
This is their free allowance:
* 1 piece of luggage of maximum 20kg or 44 pounds that can't have the sum of all dimensions more than 203cm/80in.
* 1 carry on of 8 kg/18lbs maximum with limited dimensions, not more than 55x40x23cm (21,4x15,5x9in)

Wow! I'm leaving for 1 year and a half and this is all I can take with me??? So, you can see I spent a great deal evaluating options, different suitcases, possibilities and this is the result.

I think the best website to find luggage that was used during all this time was I also considered several other websites, including Ebay and Amazon as well as local shops as Tj Maxx, Marshall's and Ross.
Basically I looked for the lightest, cheapest and in the same time largest luggage and carry on that will not exceed the capacities mentioned above.

And the winners are
1) Carry-on: International Traveller Equator 19" Wheeled Expandable found at TjMaxx for $40

Material: Polycarbonate ABS
Size: 19" x 13" x 9" + an additional 2.5"
Size including wheels: 19" x 13" x 9"
Linear inches: 40"
Weight: 5 lbs , 8 oz (wa wa wi wa)
Warranty: 5 Years
Comments: It is super light weight as seen above, great material and very chic if I might say.

2) Luggage: Skyway Sigma 2 29" Vertical Expandable Overseas Case found on for $55 with free shipping.Material: Polyester Fabric
Size:29" x 20" x 10" + 3.5" expandable (sweet!)
Linear inches: 59"
Weight: 9 lbs , 13 oz (superb!!!!)
Warranty: 10 Years (I will correct the website, it has 15 years warranty but it only applies for limited situations)
Comments: Anyways, given the weight and the price and its total volume, there is nothing more to ask. The material seems durable and it comes with a strap to help you out drag other suitcases.

Less than 100$ spent overall and I think that I got the best options that are on the market. I evaluated around 20-30 different pieces and I feel comfortable to say that if you want to fly light, you have to get these two.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Brazilian trackers in the news

I was thinking today on what to write on my blog when suddenly I received an email from our Brazilian tracker, Andrew.
The video which is part of a news feed on the local TV station in Curtiba describes in short the Brazilian track and the goals of the language program there.
The report shows Ben, Chris, Andrew and Chad in class but the main focus in the video is our classmate Christina who, as the only girl in the group, speaks good Portuguese and impressed the audience.

It is also worthy to mention that Christina and her host are both very pretty, just to give you another incentive to watch the video.

Update: Andrew told me that the video with the group was shot at the InterAmericano, the school where the language program in Portuguese is held. Christina's footage was filmed at the Botanical Garden and in the classroom as well. The school our classmates are is FGV (Fundacao Getulio Vargas) and according to Andrew is one of the best business school in Brazil, having a lot of contacts.

Thanks Andrew for the video. To view more videos from him, check out his youtube website:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Chinese Vs. American counting until 10

In a battle for winning the world supremacy of counting from 1 to 10 the fastest, two experts are fighting. In the right side, Sarah, representing the US will face the Asian champion, Na who represents China in the battle.

Even if at the beginning, US lost the first round, it came back and the battle ended as a draw. More battles to come...