To Section Two–thank you for making this school year a great one.
Nine months ago, I sat in the car as my parents and I made the 600 mile trip from Upstate New York to my new (temporary) home in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. Law school began in just a few weeks, I was about to meet a whole new set of people, and I was going to be living in an area to which I’d had little prior exposure. The thought of having to go through this transition–this process of establishing a new life and making new friends–terrified me. What if I didn’t fit in with my new colleagues? What if I didn’t fit in with the Southerners?
This was so much different than my undergraduate experience, where I was only 75 miles from home and the drive was a mere hour-and-a-half. All of my family lived within a two-hour drive of Syracuse, and for all intents and purposes I was home there. Marching band and other activities had made it so easy and natural to make friends. I wasn’t so sure this move to North Carolina was going to turn out as well as Syracuse had. I’d made the decision to attend Wake Forest partly based on the new experiences it had to offer, so part of me said that I was just going to have to bite the bullet and give it my best shot.
Fast-forwarding to the present, I must contrast these early-semester nerves with where I am today in my law school experience. After my first year of law school, I can truly tell you that my fears and apprehensions were absolutely alleviated within the first month or so of the school year. It is amazing at how quickly one can adapt into a new environment and find that it feels more like home than you ever could have imagined.
In the nine months I have been here, I have met some of the funniest, kindest, intelligent, and all-around wonderful people here at Wake Forest. I had the great fortune of being placed into a section of some of the most laid-back, awesome people I could have ever hoped to meet–people that I have laughed with, hiked with, drank beer with, stressed over exams with. In the nine months I have been here, I have met people I know will be lifelong friends–men and women I will keep in contact with long after we are hooded, pass the bar, and enter into practice. People I can’t really picture life without. Our friendship circle has become a tight-knit support system that picks each other up when we’re down and knows how to have a proper celebration when the circumstances so warrant. And that’s exactly the group I needed to find here in law school–little did I know on that drive down here that I didn’t even need to search to find exactly what I was looking for. I reflect on this past year knowing that I both made the right choice in law schools and that I would not have been this content anywhere else.
I’ve also learned a lot–a
lot–about the law these past nine months. More than I ever would have thought possible. The mind can really absorb a lot of information. And the amazing thing is that as much as I know now, I have two full years to go. But as much as I loved this year academically–I had great professors who made classes interesting–I’m looking forward to next year even more with its customized schedule (no Friday classes!) and courses that sound intensely interesting (such as Law and Medicine, Jurisprudence, and Pre-trial Practice and Procedure). A whole new year of challenges and adventures lies ahead, and I know I’m ready for it.
There’s also something to be said for adapting to Southern living. Just as with the law school community and new friendship circles, growing comfortable with life in North Carolina happened rather quickly. Winston-Salem is a great little city with quite a bit to offer in terms of recreational activities and nightlife. And besides that, I have adjusted to the more relaxed pace of Southern life, I’ve caught myself using “y’all” on way more than one occasion, and have I mentioned how awesome the climate is down here? Not only has it been well into the 70s (and sometimes 80s) for the past month-and-a-half, but the winter–oh, the winter! We saw probably eight total inches of snow spread over three separate days, and school was cancelled every single weekday we had snow. After spending four years in the Great White North that is Syracuse, New York–trudging through class through a foot of snow and biting, freezing winds without delays or closings–I figure that I have more than earned this. And after a winter spend not hating the climate every time I ventured outside, I could definitely get used to it. Of course I haven’t lost my Northeastern identity, but it has become distinctively blended these past nine months.
As much as I have been loving this North Carolina lifestyle, though, I am really looking forward to coming home and spending time with family and friends. I miss my parents. I miss my sister and her family. I miss my friends back in the Northeast. A summer of work at my internship and relaxation at the lake lies ahead, and it could not get here soon enough. In just a few short days, I begin my 600 mile journey back home to New York, and I am so excited.
To Section Two–I’m already looking forward to being reunited with you all in August; and to friends and family back home–I cannot wait to see you all.
After a successful school year, I’m coming home.
Today marks two months since I left my home in New York to begin the new and exciting adventure that has been my 1L year at Wake Forest Law thus far. It was not an easy move–I was only an hour and a half from home during my undergraduate years, and the thought of moving almost six hundred miles away frankly sort of terrified me. This is a place quite different from where I’d grown up, in terms of culture, geography, and even language. I never had any good faith reservations about attending law school in the South, but ripping up anyone from their roots and transplanting them into a completely different climate is never an easy proposition.
Fortunately for me, these past two months have been nothing short of awesome. I had the great fortune to be placed into a section of some of the brightest, funniest, and all-around great people I could have hoped to meet and befriend at Wake Forest (1st is the worst, 2nd is the best, something something hairy chest…). I have made friends that I know will likely last the rest of life, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
Culturally speaking, I’ve started to “assimilate,” if that’s the right word for it. I’ve caught myself using “y’all” without realizing it and calling adults “sir” and “ma’am.” I’ve even taught myself how to make fried chicken and gravy (not that difficult, but I’m still proud). Now all I need to do is forget how to use a turn signal, especially when merging into five lanes of traffic on I-40 at 75 miles per hour. Then I’ll be more of an authentic Southerner, I think.
Of course, school dominates every single aspect of my life, and it will continue to do so until sweet freedom (sort of…not really) comes in May 2017. I can safely say that I have learned more about the law these last seven weeks of school than I ever could have imagined I would learn about the law to this point. And that’s just in the first seven weeks. Of my first semester. Of my first year. I can talk about minimum contacts such that traditional concepts of fair play and substantial justice are not offended. I call tell you when “IT’S A TORT!!!!!” And I can tell you with absolute certainly that Justice Brennan loved personal jurisdiction and would be able to find it in literally every case he heard arguments for. And yet, as much as I’ve learned so far, I simultaneously know nothing at all.
But as much as I’m loving life down here in North Carolina, and as busy as school keeps me, I find myself missing Syracuse terribly. I miss my friends. I miss marching band. I miss hearing the Crouse Chimes ringing the Alma Mater and dealing with AirOrangeX insisting that I can’t have Internet access (okay, maybe not so much on that last one). The cruelty of higher education is that it mixes a bunch of people from all over and all walks of life together, allows them to form close and intense friendships, and then rends those friendships asunder when the time comes for commencement.
Fortunately, my Syracuse heartache will be remedied tomorrow, when I fly back to the Salt City for my first homecoming as an alumnus. I cannot wait to reconnect with my friends, see my parents again, take in campus once more, and watch as the Florida State Seminoles absolutely dismember our football team (seriously, SU Athletics? You couldn’t schedule homecoming for a weekend when a win is at least plausible?). But as rough as the game will be, and as many beers I am likely to consume as a result of it, I could not be more excited for this much-anticipated, if not brief, reunion. I have been looking forward to this day since the moment I left campus this past May, and that it is finally here has me shaking in mind-numbing anticipation for going to the Charlotte airport tomorrow. My bags are packed and my boarding passes are printed. I’m coming home, Syracuse.
I’m sitting in the car as I write this, quite literally surrounded by the familiar things that will tomorrow fill my new apartment and make it home.
As you may have read on this blog a few months ago, the Orange chapter of my life has come to a bittersweet close (perhaps with more emphasis on the “bitter” than the “sweet”) and, after a very relaxing summer, a new one is beginning.
I begin orientation at the Wake Forest University School of Law on August 15, and my mind is currently experiencing a deafening cacophony of different emotions, ranging from excitement to nervousness; from joy to sheer terror. It amazes me how the once-plodding pace of time (as it seemed to go about a decade ago) has now accelerated to the point where an entire summer passes in what seems like mere days.
Law school is what I’ve been building up to since my senior year of high school, when I finally decided that’s what I really wanted to do with my life. It’s been the mantra that kept me going through the tough times at SU (and there were tough times). It’s what sustained me through late-night paper-writing sessions (pretend you didn’t read that, Drs. Howard and Berry) and over cramming sessions for blue book exams.
Now that it’s really happening, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s actually happening. And though I cannot wait to see what this next stage of life has in store, I also know great challenges lie ahead.
I’m moving to a region where I’ll be seen as an outsider (a Yankee, I’ve been told) and I’ll be working harder than I’ve ever worked before. Many of the fun things to which I have grown accustomed will have to fall by the wayside—at least in part—but at least I’ll develop phenomenal time budgeting skills.
Yes, there’ll be ups and downs these next three years, and I can only hope the sum of my positive experiences far outweighs the negative ones when my time at Wake Forest comes to an end. Based on the emails I’ve gotten from professors and conversations I’ve had with future classmates, I’d say I’m already off to a great start.
For now, it’s time to get down to North Carolina, get settled, and make new friends before the hectic pace of the new semester sets in. I will try my best to keep you, my readers, updated on school and life as the time passes.
Go Orange and Go Deacs.