MBAs have lives! I have photos to prove it.

As we kick off the new semester, it’s safe to say that the academic rollercoaster that was the latter part of last year is slowing down. I find myself with more time to dedicate to my internship search and overall well-being. Before I get into more lessons learned, I want to share some insights into the lives of a first-year MBA new to the DMV area.

One of the biggest pulls to applying at University of Maryland was its proximity to DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Virginia – where my best friend and her family were stationed from June to December. I know, it may seem hard to believe, but whenever I caught a break, I tried to make the most of it. Here are just a few tidbits from some of the memorable events of last semester:

  1. I participated in the Change the World Consulting Project with Impact Business Leaders based out of DC. This opportunity allows you to work with consultants and organizations to identify business solutions to real- world business challenges. It was an opportunity to get my feet wet in consulting and work with students outside of our MBA program.

2. I tried to have a social life. One of the first friends I made in business school organized a Saturday Brunch for the few of us in town during labor day weekend in September. DC’s brunch scene is awesome and a perfect way for 20-somethings to meet and socialize outside of the classroom. We enjoyed Southern Hospitality‘s Saturday brunch located in northwest DC and some of us made our way to the zoo a few hours later!

3. I made my way to Philly twice this past semester. First, was to see the Beyonce live and in color in late September. The second time was for the Net Impact Conference and Career Fair. Philadelphia is one of my favorite places, it has so much character- from live street artists and musicians to America’s most historic landmarks. Also, the food is amazing. I came back to College Park with loaves of Olive Bread and cookies and froze them for later. Here are a few of my favorite photos:


“It was all a Dream” is a reference to one of my favorite rappers, Notorious B.I.G., who’s words became my life mantra at 21: Stay far from timid, only make moves when your hearts in it.

A street mural we stumbled on. There is art EVERYWHERE you go!

The Liberty Bell! Learn about this artifact here.

4. Another exciting aspect that attracted me to UMD was its basketball program. Growing up on Guam, the only exposure I had to watching Division I, Big Ten Basketball was on ESPN, so I was excited for basketball season.

Don’t mind the empty seats, I arrived at the game pretty early. Also, I love marching bands, so naturally I sat right behind them! 

5. As a graduate student access to transportation is important – especially to neighboring cities and towns. In late Novemeber, I took the Amtrak down to Richmond Virginia to visit my best friend from Guam. She took me to Colonial Williamsburg, VA and Busch Garden for some necessary family time. I love historic towns – I love the ambiance, the costumes, and seeing how people survived before electricity, laptops, and cars.

A traditional form of transportation- horse and buggy in Colonial Williamsburg.

Alternative forms of transportation…COWS!

My nephews and I hanging out near some firewood!

6. Back to the MBA life. The great thing about Smith is the family you “marry” into on Day 1. While we share many memories, my favorite parts are when we come together to celebrate each other. We celebrated the Hindu festival of lights with a night of awesome food, dancing and songs. To close out the semester and kick off the holidays we had a friendly competition for gingerbread house making and took a night tour of the National Mall in DC.

Not to mention the tailgates, socials, halloween parties, and networking events that I enjoy going too.

7. Again, Maryland is close to everything. So of course I made one more trip of to New York with a friend to celebrate Hanukkah before celebrating Christmas on Guam! I love New York and I don’t think I can ever get enough of it…since its a much bigger state than just New York City.

NYC Taxi Cabs in front of Saks. 

Christmas at Rockefeller Center.

It was my first visit to the tree…and it was cold!


I think its important to make the most of your situation, wherever it is and whatever you’re doing. There will never be enough time to do everything, so I learned you had to make time for it. While all of this is amazing and I’m enjoying the rollercoaster, there really is no place like home…especially when it looks like this 80% of the time:

Spent some time in Tumon, Guam, enjoying the 80 degree days.

I’ll just leave these here.

Janna Fernandez

I am a first-year MBA/MPP Candidate at the University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith, School of Business. I enjoy exploring new places and meeting new people. My blog will give you insight on my B-school experience, as well as how I, an island girl (from Guam), acclimate to the coming winter.For questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions email:

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