Making decisions together can be complicated. It's important to consider how your goals align with your partner’s, and sometimes they may not line up perfectly. That was the case for me when I got married just before moving to Boston and joining the HBS MBA Class of 2020. My wife stayed back home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as I experienced the life of an MBA student in Boston. Here is how I go about bridging the physical and emotional gap between us. 

Exploring careers 

Before attending Harvard Business School I tried various careers, ranging from more traditional to the atypical. First, I wanted to explore a traditional career in a fast-paced and exciting environment, so I spent 2 years working as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, Sao Paulo. After those years in consulting, I decided to roll up my sleeves and work on the implementation of great ideas by joining the International Strategy team at Gympass, a fitness and well-being startup. Throughout all those years, HBS was always on my radar. I knew that to become a better leader – be it in consulting or a start-up – HBS would give me the tools to make real change in the world. 

None of this was a surprise for my Marina. We have been together for almost 8 years now and have always discussed our paths and next steps together. We met during undergrad and have been together through a lot of change. We lived in Copenhagen, we supported each other in career switches, and we talk a lot about how to help each other accomplish our dreams. Today, Marina works in the Non-profit space in Sao Paulo for a global organization that supports entrepreneurs in developing countries. When it came to me going to school in another country, we worked toward it together. 

Opt for time with your partner even when you’re far away 

At HBS we talk a lot about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). FOMO is that feeling of getting caught up in the millions of different things happening at once and never feeling like you’re doing enough. Of course, we would love to be in multiple places at once, but eventually you must decide how to allocate your time. Maybe you’ll face a situation where it’s your anniversary and you want to Skype with your partner, but the only time you’re both available coincides with a Section event. My advice: whenever you face a decision like this, opt for the time with your partner. There will always be another event, but that special moment of bonding with your partner can mean so much to your relationship, and that is something you really don’t want to miss out on. HBS presents you with a multitude of choices, but in the end, your calendar is yours to manage – except for classes, of course! Most of us left a big part of our lives outside of campus, and it’s okay to take time off to reconnect with your roots. 

Find support in your new extended family 

A big part of the HBS experience revolves around Sections. Sections are groups of 93 first-year students that share all their classes together. I am a proud member of Section A 2020! Even though I've only been with my section-mates for a couple of months, I already consider them my family. Trust me: I was skeptical, too. But the Section experience can be one of the best resources to support you when you get homesick (it happens to everyone). In just two short months together we have had two marriages and two newborn babies! Yes, we’ve been through a lot already! Since I consider my Section my new family, I look for support from them whenever I can. I integrate my life outside of HBS with my Section mates by sharing stories about my wife and about what is going on in my life back home. 

Remember to breathe 

Life at HBS is a unique immersive experience. For most of us, it’s a life-changing period of our lives. Staying close to those who love us, regardless of the distance, can be the difference in making the most of your time here. It is always good to take a step back and remember to breathe. 

Marina and I have been very fortunate to be able to make time to see each other. Since classes started, Marina visited me once in October and was able to meet with many of my Section-mates. She even sat in on one of my classes and got to experience the HBS case method.  

Going forward, I am counting on my wife as I navigate the academic and professional development of the first year at HBS. As I aim to find an internship opportunity in the Big Tech space, I will count on Marina to help me make tough (but great!) decisions. As for after graduation, I Iook forward to a time where the challenges of long-distance living will be behind us!