Process

by Jinryu

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The professor looked us very seriously: “And when you’re at home, in your bedrooms, studying, I want to be there, with you.”

Creepy? A tad. And he’s trying, but despite it, he seems like a really nice guy. He’s the most interesting professor yet, and perhaps a bit of context would make him sound like less of a creep. As our Contract Law professor, he’s going to teach us the techniques of interpreting all the mumbo jumbo to hack away at the insane amounts of reading. He will do so until we can read cases in our sleep, and indeed, even when he is not there, he will always be with us.

There’s something distinctly different about the education I’m getting this time around– I’m actually enjoying it. There isn’t a single subject so far that I’m snoozing off at, which makes me seriously wonder what I was thinking when I did my undergrad. I mean, sure, I enjoyed some of the materials back then– but I think that like a lot of people, my undergraduate degree was just about finishing something, perhaps anything. It really took a few spins of the globe to figure out more of who I am and what I want out of the world I think.

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Today in our Foundations class, we performed a mini-moot. I’d never heard of a mini-moot before a week ago. Never done this stuff in class back home. A moot, apparently, is like a mock debate/trial. My team and I were preparing for this for about a week, and it paid off. We won the jury of all our classmates over by unanimous decision.

I think that I’m kinda on a roll here in Australia… I’m not sure what it is. A number of things maybe?

Maybe it’s that I’m finally in Sydney with [CM]. That makes life a hell of a lot easier I think– a long distance relationship with someone you’re in love with is as much a relief when you get the video feed working as it is a desparate self-inflicted torture. Being in person is a chance to live the life– the normal life of a normal couple who gets to see each other in person.

For those of you in relationships, or who want to be– consider how you look at relationships and cherish the things about them. Do you? Do you know how important it is to make time to have dinner together, and by that, I don’t just mean forking out a day’s salary to go to an expensive restaurant (although that’s important too). I mean, appreciating that the person you’re with will look at the tomatoes before buying those ones, and will chose this brand of soup over this one because it will make that home cooked dinner taste better. Things like taking the turns for the dishes– is that, really, a chore, or a privlege?

I think also that a fair amount of steam comes from the backing I have from family, which, throughout my undergrad, i either refused to ackknowledge or refused to earn. It’s a combination of those two things really. This time around, it seems that I’ve demonstrated my seriousness about taking charge of my life, so my family has been really good about backing me up on it.

I’ve grumbled in the past abotu how back in high school I had to give up music, specifically, playing in various bands, because my parents didn’t think it would work out. I used to think it was that they didn’t believe in me, or that I wasn’t good enough in their eyes to make it happen. It could have been a bit of those things– but it’s a two way street. At the age of 16 or so, would you really have enough credibility in the world of adults to convince adults that you were making smart, informed decisions?

The truth is, I’ve not been an easy son. I’ve always made it hard, rebelling and lashing out. I’ve commited some pretty big wrongs against my family throughout the years of my youth and so it’s no wonder that they thought I was a wishy washy guy.

But over time I think that as I started to work on myself, I mean, to stop making excuses and stop blaming other people for holding me back, I just naturally started to respect myself and follow through. And you know what? Family fell in behind me.

It’s not to say that their love was conditional– but I can feel the difference in their support, now that I’m finally acting like an adult.

I think maybe that’s second source of motivation for me to do well here in Australia.

Law school isn’t cheap for an international student, and even after years of savings from work at the hospitals, and even a particularly good year of saving from South Korea, well, it frankly doesn’t cover it. I’m using student loans, and my parents have taken out a loan to pay for my education.

So there’s a lot on the line. I’m cutting corners in many ways, especially from a budget point of view, but I’m doing so in a way where developing the discipline feels good to me. On some days it gets annoying… as [Zanshin] points out, budgeting oneself is pretty important when in debt but there’s something to be said about quality of life. I think I’ve got the balance right, for not at least though. Working under subutopian conditions, it makes me feel stronger, and on good days, it makes me feel badass.

I try not to sound like such a pauper, but sometimes, I do feel like it compared to my classmates. I asked a classmate how much the books for Contract Law cost– he said he wasn’t sure, he didn’t really think about it. Something like 200$ Australian (roughly equivalent to USD and CAD). To me… well, that’s a lot of money for someone not to think about, but I digress.

For the next three yeats, I’m going to be borrowing as many of my textbooks from the library and maintaining a constant cycle of reservations so that I can borrow my way for the majority of classes. So far, I’ve managed to use library books for 4 out of the 5 classes that I’ve got this semester… that saves me between 450 and 600 dollars actually for this half year. It takes a bit of extra organizational skills to make sure that I have the textbooks when I need them, but as I said– the process of it all gives me something to focus on and game.

Yesterday, it was pouring rain. Before I came to Australia, I decided that I would save money on transporatation by investing in a medium-range bike instead of paying the transportation fees here (which are pretty high compared to back home). So, this morning I biked to school with my backpack and saddle bag full: my library-borrowed textbooks, wrapped in plastic bags, and a separate bag held an ironed white shirt, a necktie and a pair of dress pants to deliver my mini-moot presentation at school.

And you know, they say that the psychology of a person who needs to kick others down to feel better about themselves is someone who is overconfident and sociopathic. Well, maybe I am a bit of a sociopath, when i really think about it– I keep telling CM that, in reality, I’m not a very nice person, I can actually be quite mean. It’s just that I take care of those I love very seriously, and I can deal with everyone else very professionally– but most people don’t understand that there’s a lot of burning anger in me, which, probably, is what drives me to search for change.

It’s not the sort of anger that is poisonous in itself, mind you. I think it’s the sort that won’t suffer to be in proximity with that which is wrong– so it’s the fiery sort, the good sort, or so I hope.

No, I don’t really need to kick people down to feel better about myself. I just find, that, with the discipline, I can have good days and better days. And almost always better days than anyone who complains about anything. Someone today was complaining about how they got all wet missing a bus, and got to school late on account of the rain.

Oh really?

I just biked through 9km of rain, in heavy traffic, on hilly terrain. Some of the puddles were so deep that my feet were an inch below water when I pedaled. I got to school on time, I dressed up dry and clean, and when I did my presentation, I pwned the mini-moot. I mooted the shit out of that audience. Do you hear me complaining about getting a bit wet?

I guess I’m pumping my own tires a bit here but I guess what I’m getting at is that I don’t need to kick people down to feel better about myself, because I have a pretty good understand of my limitations and what I’m made of. And in the areas that count to me, i’m scoring pretty well, and where I’m not, I’m learning along the way.

-=-=-=-

Regarding the mini-moot: I didn’t read my presentation– I glanced at little cues from my notes here and there, but I was one out of two people in that room of maybe 20something Juris Doctor students who knew my material well enough to not read my whole presentation.

I have teaching in SK for doing a good number on my fear of public speaking. I still feel the fear coming up my belly when i stand in front of a class though– and there’s something distinctly more terrifying about being in front of peers who speak as much (if not more) English as you (as opposed to Korean children, who are not only younger than you, but are more scared of you than you are of them).

I’m grateful for the things going on in my life.

It’s not a cakewalk, and sometimes it feels like I’ll either burn out or get hypothermia, but I’m enjoying the process of living.

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