Tag Archives: survive

So I am 3L.

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Been a while.  I still think the law school is a ridiculous system but I still managed to survive 2 years.  It’s almost 3 am and I am still wide awake thanks to my PMS.

People usually tell 1L is the worst time, and it gets better in 2L.  Well, not for me.  I would say 1L and 2L years are busy and frightening to the same level.  1L year is tough because you are just trying to get used to the new surrounding, but then the school just doesn’t let you.  They keep throwing all this burdens you have to do, with very little direction.  I don’t know about others, but for me, 2L was a very busy year because I overloaded myself.  I took 5 courses in my 2nd semester of 2L year, two being writing credit courses, which is a graduation requirement for my school.  One of them was not regular writing – an intensive writing course.

Here the inefficient admin chimes in again.  Later in the semester, I found out my friend tried to take 2 writing courses in one semester.  Then the dean didn’t let her to do so, saying it would really increase her workload.  Well, I’m fairly sure the dean looked at my registration anyway but not a word was said to me.  Awesome…

One of those courses were called “transactional doc draft.”  2 credits, sound useful, right? WRONG.  Look, I haven’t really seen any of serious contract document until I come to the law school (to be fair, I saw a few, but it was for translation or to be used as manual for my reporting job).  So logically, the best way to teach this stuff would be
1) Explain a concept.  Or two.
2) Give an example and explain.
3) Make the students to write something similar and give feedback.

Well, I’m in a law school, where the common sense doesn’t work.  Instead, from day one, professor gives us 80+ pages long “model contract” with some “errors.”  That we have to spot and change.  Did I learn anything? No. But it squeezed so much my energy out for a 2 credit course.

But, on the other hand, the other writing course turned out to be so much better than I expected.  The professor was frigging awesome in a sense that he actually lives in a same planet with us, and talks about real shit and $, not some highly scholastic legal concept that exists somewhere far far away over the rainbow.  About half of the class were part time students, meaning they are actually older and have a work experience.   Plus, the prof lived in Korea and India for a while as a peace corp member so he was one of those few people who knows the linguistic challenge.

I could have done okay this semester, but this one other crazy professor totally screwed up my grade again.  I visited this professor before exam, and asked her whether the exam would be closed book or open book.  Easy question.  And a sane person would answer “yes, it’s an open book” or, “no, it’s a closed book exam.” Right? Wrong again.  Welcome to the law school.  Her answer was: “Well, it’s an open book but not really an open book, because the time is limited and you need to know the rules in your head.”

….So does that mean open book or closed book?  I have no fucking idea.  And I speak English well.  Then she never made it clear in class anyway: all I heard from the class was some classmates whispering, “I heard it was part open book and part closed book for last semester.”  Well, then, what should I do?  Prepare the worst.  So I prepared it as if I would do for a closed book exam: forget the rule #s in the exam prep note, and try to memorize the contents as much as I can.

….only to see that the exam instruction saying “it’s an open book test! cite rule #s for a full credit!”  Yeah, thanks so much.  The exam itself was crap.  All of sudden the “driver” in the facts disappeared and “Joe” appeared.  Who seems like the driver to begin with.  Then she nearly failed me (her words: “I could have failed you, but I decided to give a benefit of doubt.” yes thank you for your thoughtfulness, bitch).  Which shocked me, because I actually studied this shit.

Turns out, she simply didn’t give me full credits just because I didn’t cite the rule #s.  Which then shows, she is doing a very, very lazy way of grading: mark off the rule #s, rather than actually reading the answers.  If I remember correctly, she said something like “don’t worry about the rule #s” in the early semester.  And she really should have made what her exam would be like clear.  This was another moment where I seriously considered quitting, only until my tutor gave me an honest opinion: that although my answer isn’t the best exam answer, it really doesn’t deserve the grade I got, and this professor is fucking nuts (“I teach this stuff for living, but I would get confused in her questions, these are just bad, lousy questions.”).

In addition, I didn’t have any summer.  I overloaded my summer semester limit by taking two courses, and at the same time preparing for MPRE.

So it sounds like I still have an awful life.  Which is true, but this post ends with a happy note.

1) I take less courses than before, thanks to the summer overloading and clinic. 
2) I fucking passed MPRE – good enough to sit for bar exam in any state.  So I don’t have to worry about this for next 2-3 years. 

 

Drama Kings. Ugh.

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As a student who is slightly older than the average, the stress from law school isn’t only from the workload, psychotic professors and oh-so-breached system (which is a lot like Korean public education).  Social dynamic is one of them.  It’s not about me being a CCK or the only Asian person or the only international student in the lot.  So many people here don’t have any work experience, and their life and social interaction are limited to the school they are attending.

The school population is pretty small.  I see almost every one of them every single day.  There’s not much to talk about.  I don’t necessarily want to see them even in the weekends.  When asked, “hey, how was your weekend?” all they did was either work or drinking with yet another classmate.  I never enjoyed hardcore drinking even in college, and I don’t like drinking with people I don’t know well.  So, so far, I spent my weekends with my college alumni club, a friend living nearby with two kids, and another friend who is working nearby, happy with his partner for 10 years.  At week 4, people started to talk about who dressed trashy and who is sleeping with whom.  Not my thing since high school, especially so if you are well over mid 20.

Today, a great exemplary event has occurred.  Ken, a Korean-American classmate of mine, sits next to me.  He’s nice, but he is still pretty immature young – never serious, talks a lot, somewhat careless.  I never went out with him for a meal or drink, but I tried to keep things friendly.

So today, as I sit down, take books out and getting ready for the class, he started talking.

Ken: Yo, I went out with this Chinese kid, and he thinks you are Ajumma.  We were talking about you, and he was like “yeah I think she is Ajumma.  She looks like one.”

For those of you who doesn’t know what Ajumma means, here’s the link.  It’s not the most flattering word.  I can’t say I was in the best mood after hearing this, but honestly I really don’t care what these kids do or say.  I replied, “well, I’m older than most of you guys anyway.”

Then Ken said, “see, that’s why you have to come out and hang out with us more often.”

Oh wait…I think I’ve been in this situation.  Back in the college, a b*tch in Korean students community did pretty much same thing.  The difference is, she meant bad.  Ken just doesn’t know better. Oh lord, forgive this naiveté.  There’s a reason why you should not pass bad words, because it gets you in trouble, not the person who said it.

And, if you want to make someone to hang out with you, you should keep passing positive things, not “hey, so-and-so said you are like a pot dealer.  That’s why you should come out more.”  It should be more of trying to please the person – “hey, come on, it’s gonna be fun.  I know you like video games, we’ll play Wii.”  I wasn’t mad at Ken – but my frustration with these “young kids” was let loose.

Me: Well, why do you pass such words to me? They aren’t necessarily good words.  Why make troubles?

Ken: No, no, it was just that, nothing more than that.

And then he started to think I’m mad at him.  He messaged me how he is sorry.  Well, that’s not the point, is it? So I replied again:

You don’t have to be sorry because it’s not your fault. It’s just that if you expect someone to hang out with you, you guys should think twice and not pass the words, or talk things about people who are not present with you guys.

Then, like 10 hours later, he sent me an e-mail: details about how the conversation went, how they have better things to do than talk about me (then why pass the words to begin with?), how he was just throwing jokes and that’s what friends do, and how he’s going to keep things strictly ‘professional.’

First, I don’t care about what went on at their drinking table.
Two, I don’t think we are friends.
Three, even if you thought it as a joke, if the person hearing it isn’t very pleased, that’s not a joke.
Four, “professional?” since when we are “professionals?” Are we in the same workplace?  To my knowledge, we are full time students.
Five, if you want to apologize, drop all the bullsh*t and stick with your apology.  No background, no explanation, no sh*t.
Lastly, why sending me all these details 10 hours later?

I guess this is what guys feel when a girl they dated once or twice send them some long, mad letter with all these details and BS.  But hey, I gotta thank that he figured we are not BFF and how to leave me alone.  If I were a few years younger, I would send some long reply.  But as I age more, one of the life wisdom I realized is that it’s just not worth it.  Some people just don’t understand no matter how hard you try to explain.  If you see the sign, just walk away and leave it there.  As the Beatles said, let it be.

Drama Kings are no better than Drama Queens.  Boy I just can’t wait until the first year ends.

TCKs to be the good of this world

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The Rise of New Ruling Class: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-rise-of-the-new-global-elite/8343/

Back in the college, a lot of my reading assignments were the copies of The Atlantic Monthly’s article.  I hated it, since they were pretty long.  Ironically, after the graduation, I started to like it, and now I am a regular subscriber.

The main article of February issue was the new riches and how it is affecting the inbetweeners and have-nots.  And also how the opportunity pool is becoming slimmer and slimmer.  Me being both (pretty much…), I was very interested in what the article would say.

According to the article, the nouveau-riche of globalization are young, self-made and working, which is a difference compared to old-school riches.  Fine, and I know a lot of hardworking, self-made riches.  In fact, I do not object when someone says most riches are rich because they work harder than others (plus some luck).   But as the article goes into the description of average attitude of new riches, I became increasingly uncomfortable – a lot of them, being a self-made hardworking people, tend to think the rest of the world is jealous of them, and others who did not make it to their level are just incompetent.  Think of how Wall Street bankers pissed the public off during and after the bailout.  It makes sense under that rational.

At this point, I could not help thinking about my high school experience and college volunteering in a local homeless center.  Back in the college, I was (probably) the only international student in my department to participate in a local community service – I worked at a local homeless shelter late evening shift as a proofreader and resource manager (helping people using PCs and books).  Originally, I wanted to work in the city hall but the seat was taken, so the only choice left for me was homeless center night-shift.  Like most people, I too associated homeless with many negative images – junkie, lazy, dangerous, sick, dirty, etc.  I still remember the nervousness on my first week.  Boy, but I was flat wrong.  Many of the folks were so friendly and kind.  And most importantly, a lot of them were able, good-natured and hardworking people who simply missed out lady luck’s blessing.  If I remember correctly, 19th British term for poor people were “unfortunate ones.”  They couldn’t be more right.

I don’t deny the nouveau-riche’s sweat and blood.  Many of them worked for it and they deserve it.  However, is it really all because they were smart and worked hard?  Some never get a chance no matter how they worked their blood and sweat out.  Their hard work came to fruition, because the right chance came at the right moment with right luck.  Sure, these don’t fill up the large portion of wealth fruit pie – but without them, no matter how hard you work, it will never be realized. Those are out of control, unlike a person’s hard work.  And I believe that is why you need to be able to share what you have with have-nots; what came as your luck might not be yours, originally.

Some of the nouveau-riches’ attitude and bubble described in the article made me think of my rich, six-digit-median-income suburban high school.  I mentioned in my blog that the whole neighborhood was a real-life J Crew/Ralph Lauren catalogue.  Everyone spent their entire life in the town bubble, hanging out only with similar kinds, and their international experience was nothing except summer trip to Bahama and Carribean.  Though I had some of my favorite people in school, I, who came from a small country in East Asian corner, could never relate to them (and I wasn’t much of interest to most of them, either).  I still don’t consider myself as a member of that community.  The attitude depicted in the article was very much like that neighborhood – even in the recession, the town’s median income is still six digits, and made it to one of the top 10 most expensive suburban town in America.

However, one person mentioned was different: Dr. Mohamed El-Erian, current Chief Executive Officer of Pimco.  Born to Egyptian father and French mother, he grew up in Egypt, US, UK, Switzerland, France, studied in Oxford and Cambridge, and now working for American company.  He was mentioned as a different nouveau-riche, someone aware of that the new elites cannot turn away from have-nots, and how turning away from them will ultimately crumble down what elites have now.

El-Erian sees this because he grew up in multiple, different spheres: he grew up in rural Egypt, a poverty-stricken country where the gap between haves and have-nots are huge, and prosperous western Europe.  It wouldn’t be possible if he were just like another new elite, who spent his/her entire life in one country and fails to understand the world as a whole, other than commodity.  And I think this is how TCKs should be, and can be – we can be the positive force.  Hopefully, how non-TCKs view us will change soon, and give us a chance.

Choi family of Kyoungju city, Korea, is a legendary wealthy family, often quoted as one of the original Asian noblesse oblige.  Some of their family rules tell a lot to this situation:
– Do not earn more than 10,000 sacks of rice: whenever the annual earning sum exceeded 10,000 rice sacks from their serf, Choi family either lowered the land fee or returned the rice to the servants and farmers.
– Always use 1,000 sacks of rice for the have-nots.
– In time of famine, do not deal real estates.
– Make sure no one is starving within 24 miles.

The new elites/riches might think noblesse oblige is out of date, and today is time where only the fittest survive and everything is purely meritocracy.  I disagree. Wealth without restraint is the worst form of vulgarity – and it will hurt the wealth itself someday.


From 1:00ish – he can’t he more right.  And he is self-made man, too.  With a bit of luck.

Postponing Everything

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It has been 5 days since I am grounded in my bed, wasting away tons of tissues blowing my nose away and with a voice of Janis Joplin, two octaves lower.  I still can’t believe how the germ decided to attack me like 9 hours before my 2nd LSAT.  Fu*k you, germs.  But what is good about still thinking about something that’s been already done.  Oh well.

Few days before LSAT, I started to have a really bad rhinitis.  So bad that one night it actually woke me up, because one of my sinus was completely blocked and I couldn’t breathe well.  Ever since I moved back to Seoul, I started to have all this ENT related symptoms whenever the season started to change (I never had one back in the US).   About first time in 10+ years, I had to take another allergy test.  It was good that my rhinitis was not allergic.  One ENT doctor who treated me last time said it is okay to use sinus spray whenever my nose feels stuffy.  Well, another doctor at the same clinic, who recently diagnosed me, said maybe I used the spray too much.  Darn it, whom should I listen to?  皆泥坊か…。 Making the matters worse, X-Ray of my skull revealed I was born with the thicker sinus wall on my right side (the side that always swells and blocks my breathing).  Anyhow his recommendation is to have a surgery, since this is vasomotor rhinitis and it will come back over and over.  Surgery is a scary word, but fortunately this one was fairly simple one with minimum anesthesizing and no bleeding, taking only 30-60 minutes.  I wanted to have the surgery right after my LSAT exam, but before that, common cold attacked me.  What a timing.  obviously doctor said we will have to postpone the surgery to after I am fully recovered from common cold.

Meanwhile I took a productive activity during my illness-grounding.  Fortunately I bought a ton of Christmas/Happy New Year cards already, so for two days I spent all the time writing them in three languages…which can potentially confuse me a great deal, so I used only one language per card-writing day.  Sore throat is getting better with coughing.  But my nose is still running and – excuse me for “ewww” description – even more sticky.  So now my prescription finally includes antibiotics.  And the rhinitis is still here.  A lethal combination.  It’s weird how my body is still warmer than before but my body temperature is normal.  I do feel a bit drowsy though.

I want to go out and have fun and study for my another round of LSAT and get prepared for applications…but I can’t for now.  People say since I’ve been spending 3.5 – 5 hours per day poring over evil LSAT questions and considering all that conscious/unconscious mental stress, it’s so natural that I get sick by now.  And I agree.  Interestingly, I start to see a pattern, mainly because of my unusually high tolerance of stress.  Even the fortune-teller told me “my, you have a very high tolerance of stress, higher than everyone else.”  I don’t know that’s a compliment or what.  But maybe because I really do have a high stress tolerance, I don’t even realize I am that stressed out and so do others.  Then it explodes.

Well, at least on the facade, the life grounded to my bed with germs is alright.  Chocolates, 3 pots of tea per day (Glad I’m a tea-drinker), chips, pepperoni pizza, Sherlock and Daria.  Now I’ll be happy once I’m done with the rhinitis surgery.

All that whining music saved me

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Oasis

Oasis

 

 

Radiohead

Radiohead

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people are not a big fan of downbeat, introspective, dark shoegazing music.  I.E, sissy and whinny.  Music does affect people’s mood.  For this reason, there are plenty of people claiming a depressed person should avoid listening to these sissy sad music; some goes further, dissing these bands/musicians altogether.  “Look,” they say, “stop locking yourself up in your bedroom and play that silly music all the time.  Come out and enjoy the weather.  Listen to some happy music.  That will cheer you up for sure.”

It’s not entirely untrue; but looking back my life, that didn’t hold true for me.

Plastic Tree

Plastic Tree

I might look like a normal geeky kid with no trouble record, decent grade and alright relationship with people, but I was so lonely in highschool.  After experiencing some tough incidence in my junior high, I knew that anyone can possibly backstab me and I’d better be careful.  I also knew that small community of girls can be very tiring – all that gossiping and making a big deal out of nothing.   I don’t know whether it was because of my INTJ man-scanning instinct or experience, but either way I am not all-out open person when I first meet someone.   My high school was a big, elite-club, cliquish bubble community.  Everyone knew each other – even teachers and students, since the school had preschools to high school.  Think of J-Crew catalogues.  Imagine Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives: now move the setting to small, wealthy Midwestern town.  If you still can’t imagine, watch this:

Now you have the idea – I almost had goosebumps when I first saw this video, because it was so like my high school.

I turned for Korean student community.  After all, I wanted to try what it is like, and was excited to see that many Koreans in my school.  I thought I would have no problem, because I’m Korean.  Soon I started to see my expectation was wrong.  I could never understand why Korean kids always have to do everything together, even if you have to sit with someone you really don’t like during lunch.   If they spot you hanging out with some white kids or bail out of some kind of group activity because of your schedule, all of sudden the whole Korean community started to bash on you and deem you as some sort of traitor.

Syrup 16g

I still don’t understand why Koreans are so obsessed with “proper treatment of senior classmen” even when they are no longer in Korean school.  If you fail to use honorifics Korean or fail to call your (Korean) senior classmen with sunbae nim, again you just turned the entire Korean student community to your enemy.  I still don’t understand why Korean students HAVE to go to Korean church, when there are hundreds of other churches or religious community.  Lastly, I still do not see why the seniors expect you to do whatever they tell you to, and get flipped if you don’t, even with a proper explanation and excuse (they believe you are simply lying).   No wonder why so-called Global Club was consisted entirely of Koreans.  After my first year with Korean Student club Global Club, I quitted.  That was also the last time I ever joined any kind of Korean club.

I hung out of some Korean girls, mostly out of social appropriation and not making any enemy.  I couldn’t really be a full member of that group – after our school vacation, they would always bring some Korean pop CD and magazine to share.  While all of them are giggling about this new Korean actress and drama, I was really not interested (I tried).   For some reason, they were able to distinguish this actress from that actress while they were in States; I couldn’t.  I tried to listen my favorite Japanese pop album, then a plenty of them flat refused my suggestion, saying they don’t like to listen to a singing in foreign language.

Dir en grey
Dir en grey

By nature I enjoy being alone and capable of doing many things on my own (example: I can totally eat alone in the big restaurant).  However I was lonely and felt there was no one to turn to.  Until I find two of my good friends (bless their souls), all that whinny, sissy music was the only thing I can turn to.   I tried some happy pops, but I couldn’t really fall for it.  The words were about some distant world that I’m not a part of.

That was my blowhole.  Listening to these musics in my bed, doing nothing, with open window, cold winter breeze and sometimes snow, I could let all the things I wanted to say out – the things that no one quiet understood at the time.  That’s probably why I can’t let go of them, no matter how these bands fell into mannerism/plagiarism/bad music/breakup, etc.  They are part of me.  If they were not there, I really don’t know what would have become of me.  And I’m glad I was able to reach out for the music.

What the world has become of?

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Some thoughts on student suicide at Rutgers

I think many people already know about a student’s suicide in Rutgers University.  This is sad, but I bet we all knew this coming at some point.  This reminds me of a similar incident in Korea about 4-5 years ago.  A 15 years old boy distributed pictures of his girlfriend naked and having sex with him over internet.  I can’t recall whether he was charged or not.  Fortunately, on this case, many people who actually downloaded the pics condemned him, found all of his personal information and spread it.  And the girl didn’t really know how serious it was.  No one knows what they are up to now – typical in Korea, you just hush-hush on things like this.

There was bullying back in my school days, too.  Call me pessimist, but I don’t think we, the human race, can ever get over the bullying completely.  It’s in our blood – our social animal blood.   Social animals isolate and attack someone who are not like us.  Furry Persian cats avoid, and sometimes even attack their fellow cat who is shaved off.  Macaques and Chimpanzees are known to pick on a weak member of their group, and sometimes lynch the member to death – and when lynching, they make sure everyone take at least one hit on the victim.

So am I saying that Clementi deserved it and bullying is just fine? No, hardly. I am scared.  I am scared to see how the increasing number of people do not stop and think about the consequences of their action, and unable to picture the very same thing can happen to them.  Ability to do that, I believe, is what distinguishes human from others.  You can’t help disliking someone (which is natural, I believe).  There are some people who just don’t click with you, no matter what you do.  You don’t have to try too hard to love everyone.  And sometimes you just have to bash-talk about people you don’t like for your mental health.  You are free to not like someone, but that doesn’t mean you get to humiliate and tear that person apart.

But that really doesn’t mean a person you dislike, or don’t really agree with, has to be humiliated by having their most private moment exposed without their consent.  NO.  How would you feel if someone you are unaware of dislike you, thus live-broadcast you masturbating?  I really don’t know where the world is heading, or what it has become.

I’m not a romantic idealist (maybe you already figured that out by reading my posts on blog).  I don’t really believe in so-called clean-cut good, bad, moral and civility.  Moral/civility to me, like Murakami Ryu once said, is “something that we agreed to not do to each other that none of us wants to be done on ourselves…why do we all agree that Nazi’s persecution on Jews was evil?  Because, none of us don’t want to be forced to scrape floor or dragged into gas chamber or have our head shaved just because of our skin color or biological background by some others.”

Maybe Ravi and Wei were homophobes.  Maybe they did it just for a “good fun, like everyone else in college.”  But had they stopped for a moment, and asked themselves whether they would be fine to have their sexual intercourse live-broadcasted over the campus by others, they might have made a different choice; and Clementi might not have taken his life at age 18.

PS: This reminds me a lot of my life in dormitory.  This partly explains why I always distanced myself from fellow dorm residents, yet not far enough to make enemy.  Someone might not like me and there are people who will take advantage of me if given a chance, whether they like me or not.  I had some people I did not like, but figured out I can’t really do anything about it, let alone have to face them at least once a day.  Best solution: leave them be, just say hi with some fake smiles.  If you have to bad-mouth him/her, go ahead for the sake of your mental health, but make sure you do that with someone who is on your side yet has no connection with your community.   When needed, take your revenge but subtle enough that you are not into trouble, but showing you are not that nice.  That way, I was able to keep myself away from troubles and survive.