I came to Wharton a week after my honeymoon – without my wife, Baasma Parvi, who has been my support system for the last six years. Of those six years, five were spent in a long distance relationship with both of us in different cities. Neither of us was thrilled about spending one more year apart. Like many of my friends here at Wharton, we let our career aspirations make the final decision. I left for Wharton while she stayed back in India pursuing her career.
Over the last one year, I have learned much about the nature of a long-distance relationship. Wharton has been an exhilarating yet tumultuous experience. The whirlwind of recruiting and socializing often left me exhausted. On those occasions, I found myself reaching out for my phone and calling my wife. In an instant, I could escape to a different world where none of the pressures of Wharton mattered. I could find joy in the smallest of things and the silliest of conversations. She helped me make sense of why I was doing what I was doing, more than any of the 360-degree feedback reports I have been handed here at Wharton. I found a coach and therapist in her. The thought that you are not alone in this, and someone is rooting for you, gave me a source of strength. She celebrated the smallest of my victories and was the cheerleader in my corner. When I got my summer offer from Fidelity, I remember calling her up at 2 am in India time. She couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night, and we kept talking on the phone.
Our relationship also went through its toughest challenges this year. When the brochure claims that Wharton experience will change your life, I feel they are not exaggerating. My preferences and personality have been irrevocably changed by my experiences here. When your partner’s expectations don’t change as fast, it leads to disagreements and disappointments. Baasma is a teetotaler, prefers smaller groups and is mildly religious; while I occupy almost the opposite end of the spectrum in most of those things. Wharton’s vibrant social scene has been a stretch experience even for me. For someone outside the bubble, it is a greater struggle to understand why going to that many parties and treks is essential to the Wharton experience.
As I finish my first year here at Wharton, I am grateful that we survived all the highs and lows of a long-distance relationship. Baasma is joining me this summer, and we will experience my second year at Wharton together. In hindsight, I am not sure if pursuing a long-distance relationship was a wise decision, but it has made our bonds stronger.