Monday, December 21, 2015 | By: CHIMI DORJI

Life at GWU

My LL.M classmates  
  I have been in Washington almost four months now pursuing LL.M.  I have already completed my first semester and I’m confident that I have stayed long enough to make a just review of my life here as a graduate student in the George Washington University Law School. I could vividly recall my first day in Washington.  I arrived to U.S on August 27, 2015 afternoon.  It was a sleepy day all because of long hour flight and jet lag. I was already late to school by 10 days and I had to rush to school from the very next day of arrival without much rest.  I was required to  report on August 10 but all because of never ending bureaucratic hurdles I could not come on time.
 First day was never easy walking to class without any orientation or briefing. By the time I joined, other international students we re already settled and classes were already in full swing, while I had to still figure out everything step by step. I missed orientation which was actually the most important thing to familiarize the school and interact with my new classmates from different countries. Thanks to my kind host, they dropped me to school and picked me up after school for few times until I was ready to go on my own. My association with the Dean of International Students long before I joined here, made me lot easier to get into the school system. She introduced me Professors, school, classes, and many more. After weeks of struggle figuring out places, people around, and school system I adapted with the classes and the new school environment. That was when I could feel I was already a student then. 
Back in the mid of 2007 when I attended my first class in the law school, India, I found the classes quite different from Bhutan. But here the classes are even more different from India. I should say more professional and definite. The timing, syllabus, and reading requirements are already prescribed in the syllabus. We are required to read as per the syllabus and be thorough on all that concepts that will be discussed in the class. In the class, students are randomly called on to either answer the questions or to brief the cases for the class.  If we don’t read for the class and if we are called on, we are screwed.  By any means we have to read for class, no matter how bulky or long may be the pages or cases prescribed.   No wonder, we can see in every study room in the school that students are so busy reading as if like having exam next day. If we have three classes on the same day, late night reading will make you crazy.  We have to pick and choose the courses in the beginning of the semester, in such a way to avoid many classes on the same day. Otherwise whole semester will be like exam every day. Although on the same day I had maximum of two classes, nevertheless, in the beginning I had tough time reading those complicated cases. With time, I adapted with everyday reading requirement.  
Studying business law in U.S will drive you nuts. Out of my interest, amongst many other specializations available, I chose to specialize in Business and Finance law. I think I had my share of challenge and difficulties. As complicated as U.S commercial law is, I wonder if any other countries have such a complicated commercial regulations and business organizations. An approachable and friendly nature of Professors made me lot easier to digest those complicated U. S business concepts and regulations. U.S business organizations goes on partnership, Limited partnership(LP), Limited Liability Partnerships(LLP), Limited Liability Limited Partnership(LLLP), and corporations.
Generally, the students here seem quite independent and they don’t care much what others do. Unlike in Bhutan and even in India where I studied only before exam, here all students are serious in their studies and they study continuously through out the semester. On the other hand, there are students who already know about Bhutan and aspire to visit Bhutan. To many of students and people whom I met, Bhutan is known for being one of the happiest and most beautiful countries. With American students, it all depends on how far we can interact with them; they are not serious as much as they look; They are friendly and helpful too.
The international students pursue LL.M in U.S mainly for jobs in U.S.  Many of them look forward to give New York bar exam with a hope to practice in U.S. They look for jobs in U.S.  When it comes to job I don’t have to look for one, but once I thought I would try my luck in bar exam.  But even if I get through also I do not find much use to me. I won’t be working in U.S after graduation and even in future I won’t afford to come to U.S to practice law.  And moreover the bar exam has many course requirements which I thought that taking those mandatory courses will just cut off my interested courses. I gave up and decided to study what I am interested.
When it comes to exam I see their exam is more advanced and practical approach. They simply want student s to act like an American lawyer. Exams are all open book. We can use everything except human being and internet. Whether you take your notes or not, it hardly makes difference. If we are not thorough with legal principles, there is no time for us to refer notes in detail. Despite open book exam, sometimes within a limited time it’s quite hard to recollect relevant rules and write answers with comprehensive legal analysis. The best part of the exam is that we don’t have to quote any particular sections or cases. If we know the relevant principles that is worth enough to fetch some points. I never believed in reproducing accurate sections and cases in the exam. In reality we can always refer sections and cases as long as we know relevant principles and concepts. The other good part of exam here is that they give option to type or write.   
Apart from heavy classes and busy academic life, school has so many social events. They invite many eminent speakers to give lectures on different legal issues. They conduct workshops and conferences very often. In every end of such events, there will networking events with refreshments and food. We get to interact with many lawyers from different organizations and judges from different courts. As many of my international friends say, we have to balance such social events with our class. I would love to keep attending such events and meeting new people if ever we don’t have classes. With classes everyday and such events occurring every now and then, we have to somehow balance all together. 
 U.S legal system has more common law stronghold than Indian legal system. Some international students come from civil law stronghold countries and they find U.S legal system quite different from what they studied before back in their country.  For me, I have studied before in the common law country and that made me lot easier to understand U.S system.  All in all, with few ups and downs in a new place with new people and in the new environment, I had a great semester. I have already adapted with the places, system, people, and friends.  I look forward my final semester more engaging, fruitful, and relaxed.


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