For me, writing is therapeutic, so I’ve shared a lot about my experience as the wife of an MBA student through blogs like MBA Chic. Most of the time, I write about how it’s changed my life — and not always for the better.
There are a lot of unique challenges that come with joining your significant other on a path from student to working professional to student again, and it has always been my intention to offer an honest, realistic viewpoint of what others can expect when they embark on a similar journey.
It’s important to note, however, that with this great sacrifice comes great rewards, and there are notable ways in which my life has changed for the better since my husband started hitting the books again. Here are a few of them:
Meeting people from around the globe. The network you’re exposed to as a business school student and a significant other is quite phenomenal. You get to meet and learn about people who come from every type of background imaginable, and it gives you a healthy appreciation for the challenges — and triumphs — students experienced to get where they are today.
As someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to travel a lot, I love hearing stories about an over-the-top wedding ceremony in Japan, the incredible number of people that live and work in India, or the unimaginable bravery and resilience that a former Army Ranger exhibited in the midst of a life-and-death situation. They share their highest highs and their lowest lows, and their openness and candor really inspires you.
Getting the chance to live in an exciting city. Depending on where your significant other chooses to go to school, it can be a great opportunity to live in a brand new city with destination spots to explore and delicious food to sample. I was fortunate in that we ended up in New York City, which is, arguably, one of the most exciting cities in the world. We’re a short Subway ride away from the center of the universe — aka Times Square — and from other landmarks like the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
While two years may seem like a long time, it really does fly by, so I encourage everyone to make the most of their time in a new city. Try all of the locals’ favorite cuisine, and discover some hole-in-the-wall places on your own. Walk when you can, because you never know when you might stumble upon a tiny gem — like an entire store devoted to the movie “The Big Lebowski,” for example. I try to remind myself that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s important to take advantage of what it has to offer.
Fringe benefits because you’re a packaged deal. This one’s simple: If you’re an MBA spouse, most schools want to try to make the transition as easy as possible for you, so that you can help maintain a happy home. Perks like access to the university gym, library and career services might not sound like much, but if you’re new to the city and simply looking to put yourself out there, these types of things present the perfect opportunity. Want to take some classes? Go right ahead — many schools offer discounted or free course offerings for MBA better halves. It’s up to you to make the most of it.
Opportunities to travel to unexpected places. “Wait. B-school students travel? Aren’t they supposed to be studying?” While excellence in the classroom is a top priority for most students, so is fraternizing with their peers in the real world as well. My husband just completed his first semester, and already we’ve been to the U.S. military academy, West Point, where we toured its beautiful campus, tailgated with fellow visitors and attended an Army-Navy football game. Would I have taken it upon myself to make the trek up there? Probably not. Was it a worthwhile experience? Absolutely.
There are frequent weekend trips that significant others are encouraged to attend with their students, so if it’s feasible to do so, I say go for it.
Sharing a life-changing experience. (Insert cliché, uplifting power ballad here.) In all seriousness, for as much as the b-school experience is about your significant other taking his or her career to the next level, at the end of the day, it’s one milestone in the life that you’re building together. Yes, I’ve been stressed out. Yes, there have been days where I’ve wondered why I signed up for this. But I did sign up for better or worse, so even when I don’t want to, I try to see the glass half-full. I think if you do, you’ll be open to the possibility that you just might glean some value out of this journey, too.
Fellow better halves: What have you enjoyed most about the business school experience?
Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the online Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading family nurse practitioner programs. She is passionate about photography, community building, and University of Michigan football. Follow her on Twitter @ericajmoss.