Monday, February 05, 2007

The 1L Diaries: Antonia

This entry in The 1L Diaries was written by my classmate Antonia, who also started law school in the summer of 2005. Check out her blog.

Three semesters – a retrospective look at a very long academic year

Part I – It’s Amore!

Falling in love is always a big deal. At first you deny that you’re falling in love – you blame other things for the way you’re feeling. Then finally you admit it. You’re in love. Head over heels, stupid, crazy in love.

The first two semesters of law school, I honestly thought I’d lost that.

Then came my third semester – and electives.

It wasn’t love at first sight. It usually isn’t. The first few pages of readings were plagued by the ennui of a jaded perpetual student. But gradually I fell in love. Deeply, passionately – crazy stupid in love.

Discovering you have a passion for international trade law is like discovering you have a passion for the AV geek in your high school, only worse. It’s like discovering you have a passion for a somewhat evil AV geek in your high school – the kind that goes Columbine on your ass.

I used to always get excited by research. I wanted to write a research paper, but as much as I tried, I came up with nothing. Then I discovered the SPS Agreement, and like that, I went from being hooked to being an international trade law crack whore.

Let me put it this way – it was finals time. I had a few important exams to worry about. Some people pledge to themselves that they won’t get drunk. Getting drunk isn’t my problem. I pledged not to do research for my international trade law paper. I restrained my twitching fingers from scrolling uncontrollably, even as I received the motherload of evidence in my inbox. I behaved. Most of the time.

Now school’s over. I still have to write that paper – but now, I get to focus. I get to lovingly caress every phrase and every paragraph; linger over every word. Even better, this summer I get to do research on this subject. I get to do what I’d want to be doing even if I wasn’t working.

Love is like that. It’s a crazy, wonderful, passionate thing. This isn’t the first time I’ve fallen in love – don’t get me wrong – there were Roma rights, post-communist Hungarian nationalism, the Caucasus, and Russian energy politics. But this one is special. This is it. Between this and energy, I’ve got a threesome I never want to leave. And for that reason alone, law school is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

Part II – Thank you for smoking

My dad tells me smoking is a bad thing. He should know – he’s a cancer researcher. I don’t believe a word he says, however. Without smoking, I’d have never met my closest friends at the law school.

In between classes, there’s a group of us that always goes outside to smoke, right in front of the “no smoking near the entrance” sign, which is itself right in front of a giant ashtray (the logic of that escapes me). The most dedicated amongst us can be found there every hour, on the hour, like clockwork.

I met my best friend at the law school there. She wasn’t in any of my classes. I never saw her outside of the smoker’s crew and the occasional language lunch. But by smoking together we became friends. At this point, we’re pretty much inseparable.

The number of people who smoke varies with the seasons and the proximity to exams. When it’s cold and wet outside, there are only a few of us diehards to be found. When it’s nice out, there are many more. And when it’s close to exams, whether freezing cold or warm and sunny, the number of smokers quadruples.

You grow to learn the schedules of people – even non-smokers. If you want to see the LLMs, you hang out in front of the building at 2:30 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you want to see 1Ls, shortly before 9 am is a good bet. Tons of people of all sorts emerge from the building at 12:15.

Smoking in law school becomes a social art form. And I’m proud to say that among my mastery of torts, crim law, international trade law and other various classes, I can include the mastery of that most delicate of art forms – the art of smoking in front of the law school.

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