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FIELD Prep En Brief

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Before you head out, read some of the recommendations below.

Loujaine AlMoallim, Women’s Leadership Editor

Brynne Gosch, Editor

As RC students prepare for FIELD classes, the Harbus Editor Loujaine AlMoallim (MBA ’24) gathered information about students’ experiences in years past. We bring the findings to you here in print to help you avoid the mistakes of your HBS forebears.

Unsurprisingly, most of the incidents cited were about food. Can readers guess what the following have in common?

  1. Ceviche from a famous, high-end Peruvian restaurant

  2. Local fruit from a street vendor in Thailand

  3. San-nakji, a Korean octopus dish where the tentacles move on the plate (the horror)

No, the answer was not “looks great on my feed.” The answer was the students who ate these foods spent a long time in the bathroom. They got sick. Corresponding to each of these foods is a rule for stomach safety: 

  1. Be very careful with uncooked foods

  2. Be careful with produce, especially fresh fruit that may be washed with water unsafe for you to drink

  3. Be very careful with uncooked foods

Additionally, students should understand cultural norms in their FIELD location. In some cultures, it is customary to keep feeding guests. And if guests don’t eat, that may be considered an insult to the host. It is suggested that “guests should learn how to be gracious and say no,” but I think there are other skills to be learned. In my personal experience*, the following techniques may help you:

  1. Take incredibly small bites

  2. Distract your host with compliments on the food

  3. Eat so slowly your host doesn’t have time to refill your plate

Beyond food, there are plenty of other things to remember for your FIELD trip. A few recommendations:

  1. Check with your client on the level of clothing formality you’ll need – you may want to bring one business formal outfit

  2. Bring all your necessary medications with back-ups, but do not store them in the same place

  3. Be extra aware of your alcohol tolerance, especially when jet-lagged

  4. Take advantage of the opportunity to build strong relationships with the guides and drivers assigned to you – some students remembered great friendships here

  5. Check with a local before exploring new areas

  6. And, of course, speak up if you see someone in trouble

Finally, in addition to all the reminders, cautions, and bottles of pepto-bismol to pack, know what a special opportunity you’ll have. Enjoy your FIELD, RC students!

*Brynne served an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most nights she ate at members’ homes. She ate cow’s heart, pig’s foot, and intestines, among other things. In addition to spending some rough nights in the bathroom, she once had to take her companion (teammate) to the hospital for dehydration caused by food poisoning. 

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Loujaine (MBA ’24) is a Saudi Arabian who spent most of her formative years in Canada. After completing her undergraduate degree at McGill University majoring in International Management, she moved back to Saudi Arabia and worked in Consulting. She enjoys traveling and exploring new places, hosting people over for small gatherings and baking and decorating cakes. Brynne Gosch is an MBA RC partner. She has a Master’s in Public Health from University of California – Los Angeles and most recently worked in infectious disease diagnostics.

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