A week-long goodbye

Heading back to Madrid was surreal.  It feels like home at this point, yet I knew I’d be leaving for my “real” home in 6 days.  The jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks.  While my body gave out and rested, I kept thinking to myself that I was wasting precious time.

I only have 6 days!  Why am I laying in bed?!  I need to see my people!  I need to see this beautiful city!  

I arrived on a Tuesday.  By Thursday, I was back to my old self and I had to kick it into overdrive.  4 days left.  The clock was my enemy.  I had dozens of goodbyes to make and three suitcases to pack.  I barely slept.  Not because I was stressed or restless, but because I was never home.  My roommate, Pablo, was the first to leave.  When I say “first to leave”, I don’t necessarily mean that he was leaving Madrid to head to his home country.  In this instance, he was going on vacation and was not returning until the same day that I leave.  In fact, he was planning to miss graduation.  Pablo was my first goodbye, but also one of the hardest.  I have been sharing a flat with Pablo for 2 months.  He is one of the greatest people that I know.  His laughter, calm nature and thoughtfulness are out of this world.  But there’s more.

Next was graduation.  The graduation ceremony was so overwhelming and I knew that it was impossible to say hello/goodbye/I’ll miss you to over 200 students and their families.  So, I didn’t even try.  Was that the right strategy?  Probably not.  But when I get overwhelmed emotionally, I sometimes pull back.  I don’t like that I do that, but this is exactly what happened.  I said a few goodbyes.  Took some pictures.  Then it was over.  I mostly spent time with my friends (who pretended to be my “sisters”), Olivia and Jennie.  And thanks mostly to Jennie, I have beautiful photos that captured the day.

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I went home, took a one hour nap and then came my next big goodbye.  Jungmin.  Jungmin, like Pablo, was going on vacation and I wouldn’t see her again in the near future.  Jungmin has been one of my closest friends while at IE.  She hails from Seoul.  That’s over 6,500 miles from Kansas City.  We have shared so many laughs, so many experiences, so many stresses with school.  And she gets me.  Don’t let cultural differences fool you.  She is one of the most observant and insightful human beings I know.  As I said my final goodbye (because I was late to dinner), I started crying of course.  I’m crying now just thinking about it.  She just looked at me in her way, touched my arm, and that was enough for me to know that she felt the same way but that she was trying to maintain composure.  Ugh.

With a heavy heart, I headed to dinner with Miko and his family.  Miko’s family had flown from all over the world to celebrate Miko’s graduation.  We had the biggest table at the restaurant.  That is some true commitment!  Miko’s family was incredibly kind and thoughtful, his mother even giving us gifts for our graduation.  Of course the dinner and conversation were lovely as well.  It was nice to feel as though I was part of the family since my own family could not be there.

<pictures from the grad party>

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Once dinner was over, we had to make a mad dash to my apartment so that I could change and then we could head to our graduation party.  And this party was over the top.  The dj was amazing, the service was amazing, the venue was like nothing I had experienced before, the weather was perfect, and the people were…well, the people.  The people are my people.  To say that the people are what make this MBA program would be an understatement.  I will be completely honest.  In the beginning of this program, I struggled.  I couldn’t find people that I clicked with.  I wasn’t sure where I belonged.  I started questioning myself.  Is my personality too casual?  Am I too feminist?  Too opinionated?  Should I tone down my opinions?  Too loud?  Too overweight?  Too laid back?  Too accepting?  But after the 4th term started, I feel like all most of those feelings have flown out of the window.

I’m both happy and proud to say that I finally found my place.  I finally found those people who are my people.  And they will be a part of my life for a long time to come.  Some are men, some are women.  They are from all different countries, all different backgrounds.  They are incredibly smart, wise, thoughtful and understanding.  And they share an experience with me to which not many others will be able to relate.

Saturday and Sunday were also incredibly difficult.  Goodbye after goodbye.  And truthfully, I don’t know when I will see most of them again.  I hope soon.  As I work on my job search, the only thing I can think about is when I can make my first trip to go visit one (or more) of them.  My list keeps growing.  For now, Mexico City, Madrid, Chicago, Vancouver, Bogota, London, Costa Rica, Berlin, Geneva, Milan, Seoul, Dubai and Singapore are on the list.  That’s all.  Once everyone starts working, I’m sure they’ll start moving around again.

I’m so grateful and happy that I had this experience.  It has been a dream of mine since I was 18 to complete my MBA.  And not only did I complete it, but I did it at one of the best schools in the world with some of the best people that I have ever met.  Mission: accomplished!

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