HBS Section Retreat: the student experience

It is a HBS custom to spend a weekend with all 90 of your section mates in a resort in Massachusetts or neighboring state in the weeks following the start of the MBA program. The weekend can be best summarized as a combination of games, parties and a lot of drinking. But most of all, it is a first real opportunity to get to know many of your fellow HBS mates in a total different setting.

My HBS section spent its retreat in a resort in New Hampshire, on the borders of lake Winnipesaukee. A tent on the beach was the ideal venue for dinner, sportive games such as ‘Colorwars’ and drinking related games such as beer-pong and flip-cup. As an international student, I was struggling to fully understand all of the games. Wikipedia saved the day! beerpong / flipcup.

One thing that seems very popular at HBS are dress-code parties, and the retreat was no exception. I was amazed by the time and energy most people put into finding the perfect clothes for the theme parties – with tens of people competing for the ‘best costume’ prize.

While I truly enjoyed the retreat and the time spent with my section-mates, I must admit that the most enriching experience for me took place in the weeks prior the retreat. As the retreat is organised before any section officers are in place, this event is typically organised by a ‘coalition of the willing’. I was part of this coalition, and found it to be a very interesting experience. Putting together a weekend for more than 100 people, just 3 weeks out, with a team of 10 very competent but very A-type personalities was challenging but also a very good learning experience. I guess this is what HBS is all about – experiencing new things with different kind of people. And I’m looking forward to much more of these kind of opportunities in the coming weeks and months.


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