Life at a ‘Real’ Law School

I apologize for my lack of relevant blog posts. But I just haven’t really known what to write. Or how to sum up things here. I have also been busy with school and getting back into real life – goodbye travel and sightseeing and photography. For now. So this blog post is about school, then hopefully the next one will be a bit more fun.

Ok. So I have survived 3 full weeks of law school and am already into week 4. I am finally settled in, have made some friends and am getting into my assignments. I also may have had a super social week last week and weekend, getting home at midnight on a Tuesday night, and drinking all weekend – including endless Mimosas on Sunday morning. (I am so glad that people aren’t so serious in law school that they don’t party!). So I feel like I am getting to know San Diego better and I am definitely beginning to love it here. Unlike many people who go on exchange, I didn’t have the initial culture shock arriving in a new country. I am American by birth and have visited over two dozen times with family. So I know how lots of things are done here. Yet there are still things I don’t know, words I don’t understand or things that completely blow my mind because they are so different.

There are a few times where someone hasn’t understood a word I have used (like “capsicum” or “gutted”), or they have used a completely ridiculous word – such as “root”. You “root” for your team. New Zealanders and British will know that you do not root for your team…I will leave it at that and say no more. This is a PG blog. And an example of things that are totally weird and totally American – you can buy pre-cooked ribs at the supermarket. You just heat it up. Insane. And you can even get a bucket of pre-cooked fried chicken. At the supermarket. For Americans that won’t seem weird, but it is. It just is.

And things are so huge here. You can buy a gallon milk = 4 liters. Four!! And HUGE jars of pickles and jalapenos and whatnot. And alcohol is so cheap – a bottle of Sauza tequila is like $15 NZD. That would set you back $45 back home. And there is far too much choice – the example I have used so far is that there are over 30 types of margarine in the supermarket here. I couldn’t decide, it was too overwhelming so I just walked away. I couldn’t do it. Too much. Then, the first night club I went to, we got in an elevator to take us to the rooftop bar, with views of the stadium and fireworks!! The club itself was about 4 stories high. I felt like I was on The Hills or some unreal TV show like that. I am definitely not in NZ anymore.

Apart from all that ridiculousness, I am actually doing something serious and worthwhile here. For those who don’t know, I am attending California Western School of Law. It is a private law school in downtown San Diego. And it has a stained glass window.

California Western School of Law, San DiegoThere are approximately 900 students and the average age of a student is 27. Well, in New Zealand a law degree is an undergrad degree. And my law faculty in NZ had probably 2,000 students. Most people were fresh out of high school, so most would graduate with a law degree by the age of 23. “Mature students” were an irregularity. Here, I am younger than most in my class as I am the age of 1Ls (first year law students) who already have a college degree. Most my friends are at least 25. And there are a lot of “mature students” – you don’t think anything of it.

The school itself is beautiful. It is downtown, consists of three buildings, and is always thriving. The law library is not quite as regal as the one back in Wellington (just because I love the historic building that Vic Law School is located in) but it is 4 stories high, with so many books. Federal and state – law books from all the states. So 50 times as many books as in NZ. (PS the below photo was taken against my will – when Mom and I looked around the school for the first time she was snapping pictures of me left right and center. But I approve the one below…)

The thing I love most about CWSL is that it is a real law school in the US. I love that. Attending a real law school. Victoria University School of Law is a university with a law department. It was great, I loved it, but it definitely does not feel the same as here. There is so much pressure on students here and it rubs off on you – in a good way. You feel serious and more focused. People are in internships in first year, already working on networking and having job experiences (though mostly unpaid). The school is really focused on helping you be successful in your future. And everyone wants to work in the law – you wouldn’t pay so much money and so much time in further study otherwise!!

I also love my classes – there are so many different courses available here. I am doing Entertainment Law, E-Commerce, Employment Law and the Law Relating to Natural Disasters. The Professors are brilliant and knowledgeable, and students really know what they want to do with their lives. Some want to be entertainment lawyers and work for MTV, others want to work for art galleries. One 2L I met even worked as an intern for an American Football team helping negotiate player contracts. These are jobs I would never even think of existing for lawyers. But they do! It has really made me start to rethink my goals and dreams and what I am really interested in – however New Zealand doesn’t have a huge basis for entertainment law or e-commerce law. So we shall see. I may be returning – I love San Diego, especially the weather. It is 28 degrees C every day basically. So warm. And sunny. It hasn’t rained in the whole 2 months I have been here – very different from what I am used to in Wellington!! People are also telling me that I should just stay. And I can, because I am a citizen. So, who knows?

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2 thoughts on “Life at a ‘Real’ Law School

  1. Pingback: SoCal Girl | Where to next?

  2. Pingback: School Spirit! Go team go! | Where to next?

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