“Now, don’t be scared. Everyone will love you.”

August 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

Day 1 of Orientation: I woke up late, showered quickly, and raced off to Harvard Law School. The first event of the day was a one hour section meeting. Many of us knew each other from the section party the night before, which was very comforting. It felt good to walk into the lecture hall and see familiar faces. I sat with some people I had met the night before, and we chatted until our section leader and torts professor, Professor Goldberg strolled to the front of the room and the group quickly lapsed into silence.

“Welcome to Harvard Law School.” I did get a bit of a chill at these words. As Professor Goldberg spoke about administrative concerns, our other professors, and a bit about torts, I found myself peeking behind me and scanning the rest of the crowd. Were these people future the future leaders of America? Did they look older than me, or more ”law studenty“ than me? Are they as awed by this moment as I was? My overwhelming impression from this and other orientation events that I have attended since then is that my fellow HLS students are, from what I can tell, just as humbled to be attending this school as I, just as fearful yet excited for what is to come.
Later, when we were eating sack lunches provided for us by HLS, some other students organized an impromptu icebreaker. We went around the room and shared the name and a “fun fact” about someone else, so that eventually everyone in the room was introduced. We have 2 former peace corps members, 2 former Teach For America corps members (including me), someone who attended culinary school in New York City, someone who was in the Korean army, a Fulbright Scholar, people who have lived and taught in China, Korea, Japan, Spain, and I’m sure many other countries, someone who spent last summer searching for dark matter (“I didn’t find any”), and many, many other accomplished individuals who I have not yet had the chance to meet.

That eschewed the HL Central organized “bar night” at the Hong Kong (too crowded for my taste) for dinner at an Indian food restaurant and drinks at a section mate’s apartment with a small group of people who I instantly clicked with. Saturday’s events were cancelled due to rain, but the same group (and a few others who didn’t make it on Friday) planned to meet up for lunch at Darwin’s in Inman Square (delicious sandwiches, by the way). I spent the rest of the day studying in the Hark with some members of my section. Saturday night was the Student Government-organized “Pub Night”, with free beer and (very light) snacks, after which some of us decided to go out for Mexican and then to a section mate’s apartment for drinks. I feel like I’ve gotten to know a good, small group of people from my section, and rather than attending the large “all 1L“ events, I have enjoyed these little spur-of-the-moment gatherings that we have largely been planning on our own.

That said, there is a great disconnect between what I expected Harvard Law School orientation to be, and what it has really been. I have found the planning and organization on the part of the school to be lacking. Everything seems very haphazard. I definitely expected more “hand holding” on the part of the school, more time spent with our sections, getting some sort of quick crash course to prepare us for the infamously daunting 1L year. I felt like saying, “Wait a second. My social events calendar is missing…You know, mixers, formals, clambakes, trips to the Cape.” Orientation events seem to have been an afterthought, very “Oh yeah, we should plan something. Umm…can we just put some pretzels in a bowl and give them some beer? That’s good enough, right?” I’m not complaining, because if there were more events I might have been overwhelmed and equally annoyed, but I guess I just expected a little more. Maybe it’s because of “these economic times…”

But, again, any disappointment I feel at the formally scheduled events is overshadowed by how impressed I am with my fellow students. I was sort of expecting popped collars, old money, and Ivy league airs and, while I’m sure they’re out there, everyone I’ve been fortunate enough to meet has been just…normal. Insanely intelligent, interesting, and oftentimes funny. But, mostly, normal. I think I’m going to like it here 🙂


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