Jenny's Blog

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Frozen hello from unusually cold this year Vienna! We are expecting the coldest winter in 100 years, which is a big demotivator to such low temperatures hater as me. 

I am also a Grinch, to those who don’t know (if such people exist, as I tend to scream about it on every corner). So this is no adore-artificial-lights-and-sugar-with-hot-water-called-punsch post. I am really not a fan of all this Christmas fuss at all. Why don’t I spend winters in warmer countries, one might ask? Well, because I snowboard every free week I get. This is the only good thing during this season for me, definitely not crowds of people in shops and smell if cinnamon that I am allergic to. Ok, sorry, done with the Grinch vibe. I am starting with the season only in January this year, this means the first time in Vienna for the holidays for me. I am actually excited! Doesn’t matter where, matters with whom, right? And unexpectedly all my friends are staying in town as well, so we are already starting with our pre-parties and giving presents in couple days! The presents I like.

I don’t make any NY resolutions since few years, either. Honestly, I get a feeling that they are for the weak. Why do you need a list on a specific date to make your life better? I am such plans and fine organization lover on everyday basis, some would even call it a control freak. But those lists are something I don’t understand. I am not saying that all this “new year – new me” is bullshit, nope, it can be a very strong psychological incentive for changes. But why follow some stupid bullet points and put pressure on yourself, if you can just be strong enough to follow what makes you happy and what drives your personal progress. So, no “visit Paris this year” for me, I’ll just go and visit. 

Even though I am not trying to come up with random resolutions here, summarizing the past year would take me just few sentences. It was a happy one, because I ate a lot of good food, I traveled to a lot of beautiful places, I spent it with the person I love. Not much more I need. I really find all those talks about personal achievements boring, so I am not gonna bore you, if I haven’t already. 

So, spend the holidays with the ones you love, if you got the chance. Merry Christmas and talk to you next year! Prost! 🍸

P.S.: Time to share the most exciting event for us this year: Daniel opened up his own bar, Clandestino. Whenever you are in Vienna, come visit! You will be amazed 😉 I am very proud, the best feeling to end this year with.

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“È Primavera, Sarà Perché Ti Amo”

img_0660Happy Spring!

I actually do see the beginning of this season as a national holiday at least. All the sorrows are over whenever there is sun and one can relax on the terrace awaiting an Old Cuban rather than having to crowd inside bars having their nose tickled by countless fur coats of the other guests.
I waved hello to spring still being surrounded by snow; currently we are closing the skiing season at Cortina d’Ampezzo, an old famous resort in Italy about which I will write on my way back to Vienna. From my hotel room glass door to the backyard, I am viewing the mountains covered in snow while writing this, but there is significant difference between going on skiing vacation in December and in March. It’s so warm now, sometimes +10 even up on the peaks; the surface is much softer and even though it is more of a free-ride than sufficient distinct slopes – this is even greater for a snowboarder like me; and, my favorite part, – the sun goes down so much later. Still having it above your head even when you go down to the valley having had enough extreme adventures for the day makes one wanna stay outside, go for a walk, sit in the sun for lunch and just stay active rather than locking themselves in a warm hotel being scared to look outside and see severe winter there. I love spring for that feeling of constantly craving for more activities. It unites people somehow, too. I am feeling more than united with my travel companions now and am very satisfied with how this skiing season went. About to join the union for some seafood dinner, so I better wrap it up.
The winter wasn’t that tough I’d say, usually there are more negative events happening. For me personally all the sad stuff always happens during the cold season, this coincidence makes me even more alert whenever the dull months approach. So this winter was an okay one I guess, but nevertheless something unpleasant had to be happening, of course. February is usually the toughest. Somehow it’s always a break-ups month for me, whatever can be meant under the definition of a break-up. It’s all fine now, though. The great healing moment in spring other than nice weather is making plans for the upcoming summer. I have been doing this for the past couple of weeks and seem to more or less have an idea of what I will be doing this year. Excited juhuuuu! All the good things are already waiting just round the corner, right? Welcome, spring!

pics taken at Neusiedler See, end of February

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UPD: back on track

Hey, guys! I am alive and I am back to Europe. tulqqdt4vrcExactly a month has it been. I still have no way to write a complete story about my summer trips that has to also be followed by a lot of thoughts. And there are a lot of thoughts. What I saw and experienced this summer changed me a lot. I started appreciating such things as drinking water, to begin with. Living in a Cuban society interacting with people being stuck in such an unusual for the modern world situation literally blows your mind! I am inspired (I never ever use this stupid phrase!) by Cuba, I will talk about Cuba, I will always remember what Cuba taught me. And I miss Cuba.

I was also lucky to visit Mexico this summer. Was a short trip but I managed to see/eat/drink a lot of amazing things. And this I can’t wait to share as well!

As I returned to Europe, my friends flew to Paris to meet me there and spend some time in the city with less English and white people to overcome my cultural shock a little bit. It was a very useful buffer before coming back to Vienna. And Paris was just so sweet this time!

I am praying now that with my extremely tough upcoming semester I will have time and inspiration to write about my summer experience. Would be such a shame to just let the impressions slip away! I still can’t forgive myself for writing absolutely nothing when used to live in the US. Won’t let it happen again! Posts are arriving soon!

Meanwhile, happy beginning of the school year for everyone! It’s the first day of fall for us, but luckily we caught the last sunbeams and made a trip to the lake yesterday.

Hope you are all safely returning from the vacations that were just amazing and warmed you up enough to meet the autumn.

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Cuba: Observations

IMG_6859.jpgHola amigos!

It is my third week in Cuba now and I can’t believe time flies so fast! Seems like I had just arrived and don’t know where to go and how to behave in the streets. Now I know my way around havana very well and have already met quite few locals, too. But every morning as I open my eyes it still takes me a second to figure out where I am. I kind of like that feeling while traveling a lot in a short period, though.
So, let me share some more observations about Cuba here. To begin with, most of the things that I am writing here are applying to Havana only, as Santiago de Cuba or Trinidad, for example, are totally different. But several facts are common for the whole country, too. If you just go to Varadero, which most of the tourists do, you won’t find any Cuban authentic sights, so I highly recommend spending at lest couple days in the capital city, and better stay in la Habana Vieja. Some things that caught my eye:
  • it is very dark in the streets. Maybe not in the newest hotel areas in Vedado, but in the old city for sure. It doesn’t feel dangerous, though. As I already mentioned in the previous post, people want foreigners’ attention, they would whistle and yell something very often, but don’t get scared. I had never been touched or anything. Just keep on walking.
  • you have to make yourself very clear when speaking with the locals. They can ask you to buy them food; making up stories about babies, faking pregnancy, being extremely sweet and friendly with you and taking pictures to later have you buy them something is very common here, especially if you go to some market areas and shops for locals. Just be smart and don’t let them trick you. It is absolutely fine to say no in a harsh way. Another usual way to trick tourists is when you go out dancing: some guy will come up to you and start teaching you salsa, you have fun and dance with him for like an hour and then he requires 25CUC for a lesson. If you are invited to dance, just make it clear that you just want to dance and don’t want a lesson!
  • in general, salsa, ron, rumba, bachata and all kinds of latin american dances are a big thing here. Cubans are the best dancers in the world. At the same time, they have their own way of dancing most of the internationally popular dances. Mixtures with African culture and isolation from the continental latin America have had their strong impact on evolution of dancing culture here. Most of people who come here are salsa dancers back home. Almost any club is going to be a salsa place at some point during the night. So if you have no idea at all how to dance, you might want to learn some basics at least not to be left out. I am taking salsa classes at a place called Casa del Son and the instructors there are very nice and professional. Don’t think, though, that this much body contact means that the locals are trying to hook you up when you dance with them. It can be the case, of course, but a lot of flirting, touching and contact is a big part of their culture here, so just accept it and don’t freak out.
  • I like it here, like it a lot. And the people are part of an amazing experience, too. But I would recommend not to trust them. Especially the guys who are flirting with you (and they do that even being 80 years old). They may whisper as many sweet things as you had never heard before in your ear and they are professional at looking reliable, but always keep in mind that the culture here is very different from any western culture; people are being brought up with it being a social norm to be sneaky. They do lie a lot here, show off and just in general have a very different point of view on what’s good and what’s bad. You can become friends with the Cubans, definitely, they are very nice and extremely interesting people. But never forget that they all see foreigners as the key to escape from the country. And most of them desperately want that, even though they will never tell you as it is not accepted to express your point of view here. All Cubans say they are extremely happy here and they love their country. You will never know what they truly think, never. Enjoy it here, but don’t try to understand.
  • absolute majority of population and their parents and grandparents have never been abroad. Even though it became legal for them to travel couple years ago, no regular local can afford it. They are not allowed to even get close to boats, on top of that. When there was a sailing excursion, the Cuban guide wasn’t allowed on board. They would be constantly asked for their documents in the streets if they walk with tourists, too. Happens to us every single day. And the foreigners would be asked questions concerning their reasons of walking next to a Cuban, too. I learnt a lot of crazy stories of how somebody started dating a Cuban and would be chased by police, but I don’t think it would be correct to share the details on the web. Just be aware that the locals live a completely different lifestyle that any foreigner would have here.
  • they love Russians. Even adore them, I would say. So feel free to say «soy rusa/ruso» anywhere! If you speak good English, you might be mistaken for an American, which is sometimes not very pleasant here, as the tensions are still strong. So if you want good service and friendly attitude, make sure they don’t take you for a «gringo»
  • all of the above strongly depends on a person, of course. The locals are very interested in foreign cultures, they ask a lot of questions and really want to know as much as possible about you. Some would greet the Americans I was hanging out with very friendly, too. But we did have some unpleasant incidents with attitude to the Americans, too.
  • what I find very impressive is how people learn English on the streets. They are not taught at the universities or in some other way common for us. They indeed do learn languages from each other. And a lot of people in Havana speak more than decent English! Sometimes German and Italian, too. Older people can speak Russian sometimes, too, as they used to travel to the Soviet Union back in the days. No idea what the problem of Russia with learning English is, if even isolated people with no way to learn it speak so well.
  • you probably know that the Internet is not a common thing. It exists in certain areas and you can buy cards to get online, but it’s mostly accessible only for foreigners. The locals aren’t admitted to the hotels (I think government tries to do as much as possible to prevent Cubans mixing with other nationalities and leaving the country, so no locals are allowed in the areas where tourists stay) and it’s also not affordable for the most of them. If a teacher makes $22 a month, he is not gonna go spend $3 on an hour of using the Wi-Fi. But you still see a lot of young people gathering around hotspots. Since just few years they are allowed to purchase cellphones here, but satellite data isn’t possible, they are just for calling. Which is surprisingly not even that much needed I would say! People just somehow get to meet each other without texting as we would do to organize whatever! Everyone knows where to find whoever he needs; certain people go to the same places to hang out, so somehow it all works out. Like it used to 20 years ago for us, I guess. I run into the people I got to know here almost every day, for example.
  • even though it is very easy to meet people here, I wouldn’t recommend staying just by yourself, It is simply less fun. Even if you are traveling with friends, you won’t experience as much as if you cross paths with other foreigners living here as well as with the locals. I am staying in the hostel, but only with the members of the program that I am doing in Cuba. And it is just so much fun! We are a little family here; there is always a lot to do and someone making plans. This hostel is the best experience ever, I love having met every single person who stayed here! It is called Hostal Leonel, I highly recommend it if you need an affordable and cozy place to stay in Habana Vieja! Btw, the program I came to Cuba with is called Jakera, and the guys indeed are doing a good job! I am enjoying it here every single day.
I think this is it for now as another trip is already ahead of me – tomorrow I am flying to Mexico! But next week I will be back to Havana and will share a lot of things to see/do/experience/avoid on this astonishing island. Have an amazing weekend, everyone! Happy autumn!

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LUm2g1MgnI4Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to complete the summer course at Università Bocconi – a private university of Milan, a very respected one in Italy and one of the best ones in Europe.

I completed an «Economics of European Union» course but the university offers several more as Luxury management, Fashion management, Venture capital, Sports management, etc. The intense courses are offered in June and February. However, make sure to attempt to enter during the application period that is much earlier. The results are usually published ca. 1,5 months before the courses start. One can find everything concerning the application procedure on the Bocconi website.

The university itself is amazing. Well, it’s obvious that once you pay for education – you feel that you are a part of the private school now. Prosciutto, cheeses and croissants served for breakfast. Restaurant menu for lunch (yes, I start with the most important part of the experience). Modern campus, extremely friendly stuff that really helps. In my university you have to figure everything out yourself which is sometimes very tricky with all the bureaucracy procedures. At Bocconi they will make sure you know where and when to go, you feel comfortable and welcomed, you ain’t hungry and you are indeed interested in what the university offers.
The professors are jewels. I was doing a course with Stefano Riela and can say that he is really professional in teaching. Not that he is just a smart economist but he also knows very well how to treat his audience that way that the material is going to be absorbed by anyone.
We all had very different background there. Australia, China, Malaysia, EU countries, Great Britain and the States and many more. Naturally that means diverse levels of knowledge about the EU. Stefano managed to give it to everyone, have everyone interested, asking questions and participating.
We had group work as well. The main topics for research were TTIP (that I got), Brexit, Turkey as a EU candidate and Google abusive behavior using dominant position case. Imagine how interesting all four are and how much better do I understand what’s happening within the EU now, how the European Commission functions, what each country weights politically and how tight the ties in the modern society with trade areas and custom unions are. Splendid.
Other than lectures and presentations, we also had company visits. The companies differ from group to group and are related to the material of the course. We went to Mediaset, European Commission and Barkley’s. By the way, the main figures there are Bocconi graduates who enjoy keeping in touch with the university and with pleasure organize conferences with students like us. I am wishing now that I wasn’t on the plane that’s about to land and could share more about the companies now! The schedule was so tight during the course that I had absolutely no time to compose any feedback on what I was doing there. As a throwback let me just claim that I am very thankful to Bocconi for the experience. Their spirit gets you better than one of the American high school sports teams! Well-done!
Apart from studies and meeting very interesting people in companies headquarters, I also met a lot of cool guys from all over the world. Bocconi does cool things as common activities, team-building. cooking classes, aperitivo, staff dinners and all those things that make you feel a part of the big mechanism which functions only because you are a team. Last time I had this proud feeling so strong on FLEX reunions, So. Bocconi is definitely going to be an unforgettable experience for me just like FLEX has been since the very beginning 8 years ago.
And, well, having the whole terrace or cooking club rented out for you, being greeted with resect by people who have accomplished incredible things in their lives and now they treat you as even; showing your Bocconi ID card somewhere and immediately getting smiles and a lot of questions from random people around Italy – those moments make you feel special no matter how modest you are. And that’s the right way to feel once you experience something as Bocconi Summer School!
Grazie mille per tutto, l’Università Bocconi! A presto!

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Hong Kong Intro

Снимок экрана 2016-03-30 в 16.12.14Hong Kong.

For sure the most unusual and astonishing place I have ever visited. I was sure nothing would ever beat Hawaii for me. Done. Hong Kong is officially my number one in the list of places that impressed me the most. I hope I am gonna write a lot about it. Right now I am still digesting all the visual information, sounds, tastes and feelings that hit me there. I am very glad that Asia has been unlocked. And I for sure started at the right place.
Still can’t believe I had to leave. Was so bright, fast and unforgettable. The life back there seemed to have less meaning and be so so far away that I nearly forgot about it. Every second of Hong Kong is an experience. Thanks to everything and everyone that makes it so special!
More and more posts follow later.