I’ve finally started this nutty experience known as RC year and thus far I’ve laughed, cried, drank far too many cocktails, worn too many themed outfits, and smiled more than I have in a long time. I’ve had highs, lows, and everything in between. And we’re one month in – yep, one month. If my brief experience is any indication, the next two years are going to be something to remember.
And so, from here on in, I plan on sharing my experiences with you, my lovely readers. I will be getting up close and personal – none of this “how to get over FOMO” and “how to ace case reading” that you’ve seen a million times before.
I’ll be getting into the real things that we deal with. Like “I did something rather embarrassing while under the influence last night, now what”, or the ever-present “I feel completely overwhelmed and everyone is smarter than me” situations that seem to come up all the time. And by all the time, I mean they have at least for me in the last month; hopefully that’s not a black mark on my character.
With that in mind, I thought it best to start out in true HBS fashion with some key learnings that I’ve accumulated since starting this whole process (in no particular order).
Embrace the weeknight partying…in moderation.
I should preface this with the fact that I grew up never being allowed out on “school nights” and this has stuck with me well into my adult years (I’m a bit of a grandma that way). So when I started seeing all these invites for parties on weeknights, when we have cases and classes the next day, my first reaction was “YOU PEOPLE ARE CRAZY”.
My opinion hasn’t changed much, but there have been a few parties that were definitely worth it, the (in)famous White Party taking the cake for sure. But, in my one-month wisdom, I have learned that going to every single one of these things definitely yields diminishing returns.
So I’ve decided to pick weeknight parties wisely; experience has shown that the Euro Club knows how to have a good time, so budget accordingly. Also, setting a curfew can be helpful – I like to call it “turning into a pumpkin” (a la Cinderella) – and stick to it. It’s not becoming to be seen at every event, so don’t feel bad about missing out. It’s actually a good thing from time to time.
Section retreat is a wonderful thing.
I don’t know about everyone else’s sections, but Section A had one heck of a good time. There are things I wish I could un-see (tight and bright was brought to a whole other level by some very brave boys) and there are those that I hope to keep in memory forever (a killer lunch at a gorgeous family home in a picturesque setting with 92 amazing people).
Key takeaways: spandex is the ultimate in team bonding. Drinking at 10am is never a good idea. What happens at retreat, stays at retreat. (Sorry for those of you hoping for some good dish on “crazy Section A;” you won’t be reading it here, or hearing it from me.) And last, but not least, section mates basically become your family – and I must say, my family is pretty awesome.
When people say dating at HBS is complicated, they might be right.
I’ve realized that our campus is small. Things that you could have gotten away with in your previous life simply won’t fly in the microcosm known as HBS. A large part of this is due to the simple fact that you see the same people all day, every day, making normal dating pretty much impossible.
I expect to have many more key learnings on this topic as the year progresses, but my biggest takeaways are this: (1) think twice before doing something “on impulse”, (2) if you do, be prepared for some teasing the next morning, and (3) tune out the gossip chatter because at the end of the day, none of it really matters.
Remember why you came here.
A major struggle over the past month has been finding a balance between school, socializing, sleep, and maintaining sanity. A big reason why I came here was to learn (crazy, I know) and I’ve definitely found it hard to find the extra time to go over the numbers stuff (not my forte in the least) while trying to keep up with my more quantitative friends. I started down the rabbit hole of feeling not good enough, but then I realized that the constant comparison was an exercise in driving myself insane.
My single biggest takeaway could be summed up as this: remember what brought you here and keep your eyes on the prize. Everyone’s here for a different reason and their experience will be their own. It will be bloody hard to keep blinders on (hello, recruiting!) but forget what other people are doing and do what you came here to do. We’ll see if I’ve stuck to my advice in another month, but that’s another story for another column.
So this, in a nutshell, is what I’ve learned so far. Looking at the weeks ahead I see midterms, recruiting, Priscilla Ball (!), FIELD 2 getting rolling, and Thanksgiving (and the associated “turkey drop”). I expect there to be fun times, stress, probably some tears, maybe some dating action (hey boys, I’m single!), and much, much more. Buckle up kids, it’s going to be a crazy ride.