Richard Barnard – Current student of the International MBA program Class of 2010 and Fellow student at IE Business School, writes about his experience of Christmas in Madrid. 

Christmas is fast approaching and with it the much anticipated holidays. The International MBA Program breaks for just over 2 weeks starting 23rd December with classes commencing again on 10th January, 2011.

The escalation in workload has been considerable with several project deadlines staggered over the last 10 days and more looming after the holiday. Thus as much as we’d all like to switch off we’ll have to keep ourselves ticking over to ensure we arrive back ready for an intense 2 months of project deadlines and mid-term exams.

Calle Serrano Between the projects we’ve all enjoyed the festive decorations that bedeck the streets and plazas of Madrid at this time of year. The designer-lights along Calle Serrano (the main street adjacent to IE Business School), the highly decorative nativity scenes (called Belén in Spanish) that decorate shop windows and the giant Christmas tree (all lights) that dominates the Puerta del Sol and provides a festive centre point for the Madrileños (the citizens of Madrid). For those IMBA students who remain in Madrid for New Year’s Eve then Puerta del Sol is the place to be at midnight, together with thousands of other revelers. Don’t forget to take 12 grapes with you, to eat with each chime of the midnight bells, a Spanish tradition!

Leading up to Christmas all the IMBA students have enjoyed the student-led celebrations of other religions and cultures; the IE Indian Society invited us all to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, accompanied by scrumptious Indian food and wonderful dancing; the IE Israeli Society invited us to their Hanukkah party, which showcased the Israeli panache for partying! It’s been a diverse December with hopefully more to come in January.

To all my fellow IMBA students who celebrate Christmas I wish you a Merry Christmas and to the entire IMBA cohort a Happy New Year and here’s hoping 2011 brings us all the success we deserve!