finally have time to get back to the blog. Things have been hectic since Spring Break!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Ross mid-term exams take place around Spring Break. Most are before to let students relax during the break, but the only exam I had was actually on the first week after. The exam was for the Support with Excel course and it turned out to be more challenging than expected! Not difficult as such, but with a strict time limit.
In addition to the Support with Excel mid-term, we also had a huge team project for Advanced Analytics during the same week, which kind of acted as an exam. Very challenging, just as the rest of the course, but also a very good learning experience. Both these “Technology & Operations” courses have proven to be very educational and interesting. Being ‘fluent’ with Excel and knowing at least some programming is a must-have skill for most businesspeople these days regardless of specialization, so I still highly recommend these courses for everyone coming here.
The elective courses exchange students take here are apparently not the most challenging courses at Ross, so the core course midterms must be pretty tough. Students here do “grind” more for them than the average student back home.
Anyway, enough about school. Between the two ‘halves’ of the semester there is the high point of the year, SPRING BREAK!!!
After the two months of hard studying, a week of leisure in America’s biggest city was just what I needed. My significant other met me at JFK from where we got a ride to our hotel, the brand-new Row NYC (https://www.rownyc.com/) a block away from Times Square!
The hotel was trendy and youthful, which was reflected in the customer base. Automated check-in and check-out along with a high-quality in-house food market made our stay convenient, would go again!
For first-time visitors, shopping for a hotel in New York can be infuriating. Unlike in Europe where hotels have to advertise the final price, in America there are no such regulations and thus the hotels can add in all sorts of their own fees. Every hotel does this to some extent in New York and they all have their own varying fees which really gave me gray hair. I counted at least six different fees on top of the base price for our hotel: value added tax (as in everything in America), New York State sales tax, New York City sales tax, New York City hotel room occupancy tax, NYC Javits Center fee, and Row NYC facilities fee. To be fair only one of those is the hotel’s own fee, but it was easily the largest chunk of extra money. Can’t really fault Row NYC for that, since it’s the local custom and you don’t get customers by advertising higher prices than rivals. Still, New York could do something about those five different taxes.
Having never been to New York, I had my mind blown by the sheer size and hustle ‘n’ bustle of the City! Even though we were going somewhere all the time, it still felt like we had only just scratched the surface. We did a lot of the typical touristy stuff including visiting the 9/11 memorial museum and the Statue of Liberty (both recommended), queued to a few of the more popular diners for breakfast (pancakes with bacon, eggs and sausage doused in maple syrup? So good!) and even got a helicopter ride around Manhattan!
We took the Manhattan helicopter tour with Helicopter Flight Services (https://heliny.com/). The pilot was cool and knew the city very well, so we got a good narration to go with the sights! It was an amazing experience, though of course not cheap (nothing in NYC is).
On the last evening we went to see The Lion King on Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre. It was just as good as the reviews said and I’ve never seen a show that well executed, the props almost seemed like magic at times! A word of warning for those new to Broadway shows: Always go to the show’s official website to see who the official ticket vendor is. I almost got tricked into buying tickets from a reseller with exorbitant service fees (if you google “Lion King Broadway” you’re more likely to find a certain reseller than the official ticket vendor). The official retailer fees are supposed to be less than $10, not $50!
After the show we had late-night dinner in an Italian restaurant on New York’s semi-famous Restaurant Row (a stretch of West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues) in Hell’s Kitchen, one block from our hotel. The Row hosts many high-quality restaurants from Japanese to Louisiana cuisine, so you could easily eat something different there every day over a week’s stay.
There was a lot to do in NYC and there would be equally much left for multiple week-long vacations. Apart from the tourist attractions, it’s easy to spend time just walking around the city in nice weather, looking around and visiting different shops along the way. With there being over three million more people in New York City alone than in Finland, you can imagine there are shops and entertainment for every possible niche interest. And then there are the other four boroughs…
So, that was New York. Or so I thought… One of the winter’s worst storms hit the East Coast in the morning of our departure. I already got a bad feeling when the inter-terminal Airtrain in JFK was out of service due to the weather. Around 3000 flights taking of from the East Coast were cancelled, my flight sadly among them. Luckily, the significant other got home as Finnair was able to take off. I, on the other hand, ended up experiencing a night on the airport floor as all hotels and rental cars nearby were reserved. Not a pleasant experience, but an experience nonetheless, I guess.
Despite lasting one day longer than planned, Spring Break was awesome and definitely the highlight of the semester so far. Now it’s back to the grind and towards the end of the semester. Can’t believe it’s the halfway point already!
Until next time,