Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ten years

Last week a student from Poland asked to meet me. I was hesitant to do this- the older I get the more uncomfortable I feel as  the  Gainesville one-person welcome committee, but still I agreed. He started the year-long program I started my academic career in America with. And as we talked I slowly realized that ten years ago exactly I was in his shoes. I remember being open and excited to meet people and visit places. My big adventure was just beginning. I have to say I envy him a little bit- discovering Gainesville for the first time, everything a possibility, a book unwritten. His dream to move to New York to practice law- a goal shared by most if not all LLM students after the program finishes sounded so familiar. I remember studying for the New York Bar with other international students with a shared  set of BarBri review materials, a disaster waiting to happen. Let's just say you need more than one book for a group of eight and no amount of xeroxing could make up for it. But we were set in our ways- we were planning to be New York attorneys and failure just wasn't an option. That first time- it should have been. I even remember one of our Chinese friends praying we'd miss the plane and that way we wouldn't have to take the exam. But I remember that first year. Experiencing America, absorbing the views, the colors so vibrant, the climate. My first shot at independence. I came here with high hopes. To live through something, to find my place, to make life-long friendships, to feel accomplished, to feel loved and perhaps find love. My life didn't exactly resemble an American TV show based in college but I made it my own. Can you believe it's been ten years already? Ten years ago, "ten years" would feel like a really log time. Who knew I would not only end up staying but getting one more law degree. Who knew I would still call Gainesville home rather than getting a sweet bachelor pad in Manhattan. Who knew I'd have the strength to stand for myself on the quest to get back into law school and then face immigration in what proved to be an exhausting path to get my green card. Who knew I'd be an attorney in Florida and DC, neither State was in my plans. The last ten years didn't quite end up looking like a dreamed, but I'd  take them in a second. The moments of joy, fun and content as well as the stress, the fear, disappointment and loneliness that all made into who I am today. The conversations with strangers. My springbreak in Puerto Rico. My Holidays in Vegas. All the White Mochas. The movies and friends made at the Student Union. As he said, I wish I went to college here, I remember my struggles to stay here for an extra degree a bit longer. There's so much to do here- he said. And I agreed, there's so much and more. I was hit by a bus once but I survived to tell the story. Perhaps I'm not like I was ten years ago. Who'd believe I'll start a Foundation and dedicate every waking moment worrying about it. No (big) regrets. Yet I'm still excited for the future and waiting for my big break.

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