When I made the decision to move to Chicago along with my partner, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the experience. I had spent most of my professional career in Dallas and would be putting a distance between a nearby brother and most of my friends. What I did know was that I wanted to be witness to and where possible, a part of what I was sure would be a life-changing experience for her. How would I make friends? Would I fit into this community? Will we have time for each other? I hope that after being here a year, I can share some insights and experiences that will help ease some of these anxieties that partners of admitted students may be facing.
As a partner, it’s easy to feel like an outsider at first. Conversation between Boothies often revolves around courses, recruiting events, or who’s spamming the Slack channel today. However, Booth offers many options to make partners feel welcome and integrated into the community. A prime example of this is the Partners Club, designed to host events throughout the year aimed at introducing you to other partners with similar experiences. As a co-chair myself this past year, I met some incredible people during axe-throwing, group workouts, and a myriad of other events. That’s not to say you should limit yourself to hanging out solely with fellow partners. The Booth community is a diverse body, with a wide range of interests. Partners shouldn’t feel reservations about raising their hand to participate in student activities they are interested in. I personally have been welcomed by members of the rock climbing and board game community on campus and have never felt unwelcome in these settings. Additionally, Booth activities such as formals, TNDC, LPF (you will learn the acronyms), etc., are all incredibly welcoming to the partner community. Lastly, watching your Boothie perform scholarly activities may just spark your long dormant academic and intellectual interests. If that is the case, I encourage you to inquire with professors about auditing courses. It’s a rare opportunity to leverage the talent of a school like Booth.
At Booth, you’ll also find yourself an invaluable asset to your partner (who else will water the plants during random walk?). As they experience the gamut of stress associated with recruiting, clubs, attempting to keep up with coursework, and just remembering to eat, you will be their support mechanism and source of encouragement. As a Booth student, it can be easy to get caught up in meeting incredible expectations and forget you are in a world where everyone is exceptional. It is your role to remind them of that. You also represent a link to the outside world and a bit of normalcy. You may find yourself to be a welcome relief from the regular series of questions (‘how are classes going?’) amongst other students. Be ready for your newfound popularity. Finally, on a serious note, The Booth experience is a commitment that requires compromise and sacrifice from both parties no matter your situation. However, with the right perspective and approach, it can be an adventure that brings you closer together and leaves you with memories for a lifetime.