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Yale SOM study group invades Chile and Argentina: Debrief

Well, the final semester of SOM is here and the class of 2008 begins its march to graduation. It's come too quickly in my opinion, but what can you do but enjoy, have fun with friends, and soak it all in? For me, "having fun and soaking it all in" has been the motto to which I have aspired to during my time at SOM. No doubt trips like my recent adventure in Chile and Argentina with study group members will be the kind of things I value and miss most after I leave SOM. To recap, thanks to SOM's very nice winter break schedule, I essentially had a holiday break from December 15th till January 22nd. With so much time off, the three of us planned a 3 week trip to Chile and Argentina. Naturally with 3 weeks and 24/7 exposure to the same 3 people, there were some personality clashes. That said though, the trip was fun and a good mix of city-scapes, wine country, action and adventure, and natural scenery (pictured above is a pic of the 3 of us at the El Chalten National Park... Patagonia) Since I enjoy applying the SOM grading scheme to everything - from food, to vacation days, to tv shows, LBO candidates, professors at SOM, etc. etc., its only fitting that I do the same and mention some aspects of the holiday that warrant a "distinction" (top 10% of the class in Yale SOM-speak). Distinctions

  • Day 1 in Santiago, Chile. We arrive in Santiago Chile in the morning after an overnight flight from NYC. Instead of being sensible travelers and resting up, we proceed to walk around the city for multiple hours like champs, seeing most of the major attractions, plazas, markets, etc in 1 day. Then, after heading back to the hotel and resting for an hour or so, we plan a quick "half hour run" which somehow ends up being a 3 hour hike up Cerro San Cristobal mountain to the Virgin Mary statue overlooking the city of Santiago. A great day.
  • Wine tasting. Of special note was the winery Concha Y Toro, a beautiful winery not too far from Santiago. We took local buses (which was a pretty wild experience on its own), but the winery was beautiful and featured very generous tastings (3 full glasses of nice wine). Wine tasting in Mendoza was a doozy as well - with a private driver escorting us around, we ended up hitting up 5 wineries and benefiting from the natural effects of multiple free tastings.
  • New Year's Eve Party on the streets of Santiago Chile. Fireworks, champagne, beer, confetti, locals amused by our cheers and antics. Sure, a drunk fellow bumped into Alissa and knocked my camera onto the ground damaging it in the process, but still a fun evening. With many streets shut down and no subway (and reluctance to pay for a cab) the 1-hour+ walk home was not so great, but amusing nonetheless.
  • White water rafting in San Rafael, Argentina. One of our classmates' mom owns a bed and breakfast in San Rafael (not too far from Mendoza, Argentina) and we had the pleasure of being one of the first guests there. The bed and breakfast was a nice break from the busy cities that we had been visiting, and the white water rafting experience was a ton of fun. Having a rafting guide that was a complete joker was also a plus, as well as the random stops we made along the canyon to do stupid things like jumping off rocks into the rapids.
  • Cheap steaks in Buenos Aires (and most of Argentina for that matter). Porterhouse steak for $10 US? YES Please.
  • Meeting up with 3 other SOM students for a steak dinner in Buenos Aires. 80% of our study group accounted for thanks to overlapping South American trips.
  • Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina. Our first stop in the region known as "Patagonia" did not disappoint. The glacier was truly spectacular... I've seen some glaciers before in Canada and the Arctic but the size and magnificence of this glacier was pretty neat. Seeing multiple chunks (and large ones at that) crumble off before our eyes was also awesome.
  • El Chalten national park. This 6-hour hike featured a pretty cool payoff (Laguna Torres) where Ip and I ate some glacier ice. Though some of the middle parts of the hike proved a little boring, the scenery and payoff makes the hike pretty notable in my books.
  • Torres Del Paine. Upon returning to the Chilean part of Patagonia we stayed in the Torres del Paine park for a night, hitting up an amazing 7 hour hike. The end featured a 45 minute scramble up a moraine (which actually ranks amongst the most challenging hikes I've done), but the payoff at the end was absolutely stunning.
  • The Audacity of Hope. Sure, this doesn't really have anything to do with Chile or Argentina, but I thoroughly enjoyed Barack Obama's book on the trip (flights, bus rides, etc.). It was also partially read by both Ip and Lifshitz, so it counts as a shared experience on this Chile/Argentina trip. I also really, really wish Obama all the best... even though his book does read like a long campaign speech, I'm convinced and totally buy into his messages and ideas.

That's about all I got for now. As its the last semester I'll try to write a bit more in the upcoming months to capture whatever's left of my Yale experience. Before I go though, I of course will leave a collage of selected images picked from my 500+ pics taken over the 3 weeks