What We Miss About HBS life

I found this post in my drafts folder from months ago after Ben graduated from business school. These are all still relevant and I’m counting down the weeks until I’m back with some of these favorite people next month.  

That was the fastest and most fun two years of life so far!

I still remember the moment Ben opened his acceptance email, where I was standing in our living room in Findlay, Ohio as he refreshed his laptop at the kitchen table. “The answer is YES!” (a great way to start an acceptance email, well done, admissions)

There are a lot of things to be excited about in this new chapter of life after business school, but part of me wishes we could move fifteen minutes back down the road to campus and do the last two years all over again.

Here are some of the things we are really going to miss about life at Harvard Business School:

  1. 5 neighbors who can buzz me in if I forget my house key: I am far more nervous about leaving the house without keys these days than I have been in the last two years. Because There were only five other apartments in our building, I didn’t lock our front door all that often (I just needed my campus ID to open the main building door) And sorry, Susan, for ringing up so many times 🙂 . 
  2. having really responsive maintenance to call whenever anything goes wrong: We rented for our first few years of marriage but owned our home in Ohio before business school. While there are some financial perks of owning a home (and some stylistic ones), I didn’t anticipate how GREAT it would be to have such an awesome maintenance team at our disposal. Every issue was fixed within 24 hours (usually within the hour) and the only thing they didn’t accommodate was my desire for a deadbolt so my kids couldn’t open the door on their own. Renting from a single landlord just isn’t the same.
  3. living above a playground: On campus our apartment was part of a complex of buildings that all surrounded a playground. It was a 45 second walk from our front door. It was an easy way to meet other families on campus and I remember being struck the first week at how interested and friendly everyone at the playground was. They were almost all business school families (or other graduate school families) who had relocated to Boston and were looking to make friends. There was very little of “push your kids on the swing next to someone else without talking to them,” which might be an introverts nightmare, but was a wonderful way to feel accepted and get to know a new community. Also, some of my favorite memories are of warm fall afternoons with all the little friends playing at the park and dads stopping by on their way home from class (HBS had 42% women in their 2019 class but of the families on campus, the overwhelming majority of the students were the dads). We miss a playground 1 minute from our house always filled with friends a lot right now.
  4. a pedestrian campus: There was a small access road between our apartment and the main campus but, overall, I felt super safe with my kids on campus. We could take scooters out for the afternoon and I could just let them scooter around the quad, over the to the library, or between apartment buildings, without being super worried about cars if they were far ahead of me. There are a few places we could scooter to at our new house but the stress level of sharing the road with cars means I usually opt to drive. 
  5. seeing Ben for lunch in the middle of a Tuesday:  We loved having Ben home in the middle of the day for random lunches and for a few months we had a standing Wednesday lunch date after I’d worked for a few hours and the kids were with the babysitter. We saw a lot more of Ben the last two years but even during the times when he was very busy, it was nice being close enough that he could stop home for 20 minutes or we could visit him on campus.
  6. daily/weekly campus events: After spending my first few years of motherhood in a small town in the midwest at home with my babies, being on campus with regular evening events was SO fun. Ben could easily come home to study or I could give my baby monitor to my neighbor (living in such close quarters, neighbors were literally 5 steps away from my kids in their cribs). From business professionals to parenting experts, there were always interesting speakers to slip out to in the evenings. A few favorites I remember; Rent the Runway came to campus, Fireside chat with Margaux founders (the most comfortable shoes), Intuitive Eating for Picky Eaters, Raising Internationally Minded Kids, How to Host (a workshop on hosting and entertaining), and more.  
  7. Girls Nights Out: Between the parents club and our LDS student association, there were 1-2 girls nights out per month. Dessert crawls in Harvard Square, favorite thing parties, karaoke nights, book clubs… always opportunities to get together with other women. 
  8. toddler classes taught by friends (and me!) that we can walk to in a matter of minutes: The parents group on campus organizes classes for on campus families that are led by volunteers. We participated in music classes, motor skills classes, soccer clinics, and story time. Second year I taught a toddler ballet class that Adelaide and Lincoln still ask about. It was a fun way to have a lot to do without the hassle of getting in the car (and the classes were either free or very inexpensive so if you missed one, you didn’t feel bad). Plus, there is something about serving together that knits a community together. I was so grateful to the women who gave up their time to entertain and love my kids. 
  9. traveling with friends: We had a lot of fantastic opportunities to travel with friends over the last two years and they are some of my favorite memories of business school. I was grateful for the advice before Ben started to prioritize people and building relationships …and I’m also so grateful for parents and siblings who live close by and were willing to watch our kids so often. It was helpful to have synced vacations with all our friends and people who were excited to have so much time off. Some memorable trips: spring break in Guadeloupe with a favorite couple, Greece after Ben’s work in Athens finished up with two other couples, girl’s trip to Paris, London for finals week with friends, Spring break with a few families in Florida, Vermont retreat weekend, Maine retreat before graduation, cape cod, and Ben’s graduation trip to Israel with friends. 
  10. Little friends everywhere: Living in such close proximity to so many families made for so much socialization for my kids at a time that I was too frazzled to plan regular playdates. I think in those two years I had a scheduled playdate three times. It was easy to text a friend to see if they wanted to come over in ten minutes. If I didn’t want to host, I could just send out a message that we were headed to play in the communal playroom. There were so many little kids for Lincoln and Adelaide to play with each day and they often talk about how they miss their friends in Boston and wish we still lived on campus. Activities like going to the car, taking out the trash, or walking to the post office, which don’t mean seeing any friends in our life now, were often punctuated by running into other toddlers on scooters.  
  11. brand new apartments: Hear me out. We LOVE having more space now that we aren’t living in 3 bedrooms in 720 square feet but I do miss living in a brand new beautiful space (although I am very glad to no longer be paying the exorbitant price of Harvard housing). 
  12. Spangler sushi: The sushi in the basement of the student center is very good for its price. I miss this regularly. 
  13. people who are (almost) always interested: I wrote about how amazing the people are in my “surprises of business school” post but one of the things that characterized the group of people we spent the last two years with was how interested they were. They asked questions. They asked followup questions. They sought advice. They generally assumed they had something to learn from anyone they talked to. It made me feel important + interesting…and also taught me to be interested in others. Ben’s section, families at the playground, random students that we’d meet on campus – the people are awesome. 
  14. Friends that felt like family: The thing we miss most about campus life are the dear dear friends. I have to remind myself that they didn’t start out as dear friends (and so there’s hope for every new place we live). But, relationships seem to progress faster at HBS. Maybe it is because we all live in such close proximity. Maybe it is because we are all new, looking for friends. Maybe it is because part of business school is networking. Maybe it is because there are so many events so you see each other 3 times a day. Maybe it is because you’re all going through some of the same hard things. Maybe it is because (almost) everyone is so far away from family. Whatever it is, I am so grateful for the group of women I came to love while Ben was in school – for their examples and their friendship. Having them move all over the world after school has been the hardest part. 

 

A few other business school posts: 

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