Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Capturing ideas

I've finally stopped stressing about my semester. I can get more done when I'm relaxed, and I finally broke through my writer's block on my papers last night, which did a lot to relieve some of my anxiety.

I sometimes get writer's block when I spend too much time on a subject - I begin to realize the full scope of the subject and get bogged down trying to figure out how to structure things rather than actually writing. I recently received some simple yet good advice that has gotten me back on my old writing track - don't try to structure things - just write in a stream of consciousness fashion and reorganize later.

In the end a paper is about capturing ideas. Too much structure constricts the ability of the writer to think outside the box and possible have more interesting ideas. It is much more constructive to let ideas flow onto paper and sort through them later when you're dealing with longer papers.

It feels great to be writing again. I missed the rush.

Friday, January 26, 2007


If you'd told me a year ago that I would be in the law library on a Friday afternoon studying, I would have laughed at you.

Things change. It's Friday afternoon, and I'm in my carrel in the library doing some research.

Thank god for Michigan weather - when it's this cold, wet, and grey I don't have any urge to go out on weekends. And maybe, if I work very very hard right now by the time the weather gets nice I won't have so much to do. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I've been thinking a lot about my time in Europe since getting back to the States. And I've come to a few conclusions about myself and my whereabouts.

I always knew that I didn't completely fit in here in the US. I only moved here when I was 15, and as such, my character was largely formed by international, non-US experiences. Unlike many immigrants, I don't have a strong attachment to the United States as an abode, since to me being American was always a question of my passport, and while I view it as a great place for higher education, it's not where I'd like to be for the rest of my life.

Four months in Western Europe reminded me that I don't fit in completely in Europe either. Although as a child in Switzerland I was quintessentially Swiss (not European), the years I spent in the US have Americanized me to a point that I find Europe as odd as I find the US (particularly Western Europe - Eastern Europe is much more comprehensible, especially from an American perspective). I also do not wish to spend the rest of my life in Europe.

At this point in my life, I really begin to realize the full impact my childhood abroad had on me - my parents' own wanderings have left me feeling unsatisfied unless I can move around, and I find myself feeling completely rootless. Right now I'd like to spend a few years in Europe, then move to Asia and focus my attentions there. If there's anything my 4.5 years in Japan taught me, it's that it's better not to fit in at all than to almost, but not quite, blend in.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The never stops...

Only about 2 weeks into my semester, and I feel like I've done nothing but read for classes for the entirety of my natural life. Not only that, but I feel like I've done nothing but read about business and investment law for the entirety of my natural life.

The sad thing is, I'm kind of enjoying it. I feel like I'm learning so much. Ok, things are a bit in overdrive, but this is kind of fun.

I think a summer followed by a semester without exams did wonders. Now if it were only possible to take to do this every few years in the real working world...

Of course a part of me feels like my soul has died a little bit. I'm also a little less fun than I used to be. Funny thing is - I look at my friends in the law firm world, and I feel like they're a little less fun than they used to be. Of course this also might be called growing up, but I wouldn't want to admit to that.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Too much investment law

You know you're taking too many investment law related courses when you're watching Fitzcarraldo and can't help but think about how none of this would be possible without cheap, plentiful labor. And instead of thinking of the beauty and the wonders of the movie, you start wondering about investment law and economics in the Amazon.

Courses and cases and memos, oh my!

School's in full swing again. And I couldn't be happier. I'm sure this unnatural glee for taking classes will fade in a few short weeks, but at the moment, I am thrilled to be taking so many interesting courses with so much practical relevance, and am also thrilled to be learning things that I didn't know about.

For example - I'm taking securities regulation this term. I signed up for the course since I'll probably be doing a fair amount of sec reg work this summer, and felt that I really didn't know anything about the subject. Prior to the first day of class I had no clue as to what a security even was. I was quite pleasantly surprised to learn that sec reg is a class about the stock market.

Ok, so maybe I'm a little slow sometimes. Most people know what a security is. To me, the word "security" is forever associated with "blanket" so it's taken a little bit to disassociate the idea of Linus from the class contents.

So yeah, class is fun. I learn things.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Quorn - It's fungus!

Yesterday I picked up some Quorn chicken nuggets and Quorn chicken cutlets. For years, I'd been dying to try this stuff, ever since a middle school biology teacher (who was British) told us about it. It's the science-fictioniest food product ever. Think Asimov's Prelude to Foundation. Fake meat made from soy and other vegetables is boring - it's just turning existing products into the most meat-like form they can be in. Quorn, on the other hand is science.

Quorn is apparently made from a fungus that was discovered by British scientists somewhere in the English countryside in 1967. Quorn is made in giant fermenting vats. Quorn is fermented fungus - mold of some sort.

Having recently decided that eating meat too much is bad (this does not imply that I have any intention of becoming a vegetarian), because it's not an efficient use of natural resources, Quorn seems like the future of food.

So I tried the chicken nuggets today - and I'm pleased to report that they're damn tasty, resemble real chicken nuggets more than McNuggets do. It tastes like chicken, feels like chicken, and isn't people, although I couldn't help but think of soylent green while eating my vat-grown nuggets.

Still - not half bad. Can't wait to try the chicken fillet and see how chickeny it is. I could handle substituting this stuff for half of my meat intake.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Gunner girl

The term "gunner" appears to be a ubiquitous one in law schools around the US. What it means: someone who tries with all their might to participate, to study hard, all in order to get the best grade possible.

Some would misguidedly call me by that name. The beginning of this semester reminds me of last semester - as long as I was interested in a class, I participated. Maybe to the point of being seen by some as a gunner. I always raised my hand. I always answered questions (for the record - quite often wrongly, but that's part of the fun). So far, I'm still doing the same thing given the opportunity.

Yet those who know me would be hard-pressed to identify me as a gunner. I'm the girl who walzed into the library during finals in April of last year, attired in shorts and a tanktop, carrying a purse rather than a backpack, and expressed to a friend there that I'd just gotten back from doing a little shopping, having lunch and tanning. To those who know me, that too would seem odd.

There are lots of reasons why no one would mark me as a gunner. First and foremost, I have NEVER, in my entire academic life, cared about grades. If I'm interested - I care about learning. How I do on exams is not a reflection of my knowledge of the subject, but rather of how well I take tests. As long as they're standardized - great. Otherwise - not so hot. Secondly, I'm a bit of a hedonist - life is enjoyable, and no potential grade could convince me to give up the time I spend enjoying life, whether it be cooking, reading a non-law school book, or just simply having a good time.

So why does answering questions in class make people think I'm a gunner? Isn't it a mark of ignorance, or curiosity to talk too much? Isn't true wisdom epitomized by silence? Doing the readings does not make me a gunner. Neither does having no shame in giving a wrong answer.

People shouldn't be afraid to participate in class. Exams here are graded blind - being an idiot in front of a few dozen people isn't going to hurt you. Furthermore, in order to succeed in the real world, you have to voice your opinion - even if sometimes that means speaking up as a junior in front of much more senior staff members. School is good practice - what you say impacts your future much less.

In short - it's laughable that some would think of me as a gunner. I just wish more people would speak up and realize that you don't have to study 22 hours out of the day in order to participate in class.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Home sweet home

Yesterday I finally made it back to Ann Arbor. It's nice to be back. The shorter my time grows here, the more I value the last remaining months of student life that I have. Sure, after this I'll have money, a real job, prestige, and all the accoutrements that go with that, but I won't be a student anymore, with the freedom to keep odd hours, the ability to skip class without too severe repercussions, and the possibility of exploring endless interesting research topics.

I'm going to miss Ann Arbor - most of my post-secondary student life was spent here, and in fact I've lived in Ann Arbor for longer than I've lived anywhere else in my life.

Right now it's pissing down rain, but even that can't dampen my spirits. It's nice to be back in my cozy student nest.