Monday, May 26

My 1L Year of Law School

Since I've been home, practically everyone I've talked to has asked me how my first year of law school went. Which I guess makes sense, since it is a very obvious question... and yet, I realized I hadn't talked about it! 

1st Semester
At first: 
At the beginning of the semester, I was so nervous and excited to start everything. It made me feel better that we were all basically in the same boat: scared out of our minds and wondering how law school really was. It literally took hours to do each reading assignment, and I couldn't find a case brief style I liked. But everything was new and excited and I was inspired and motivated to keep going.

Briefing cases got easier throughout the semester, but homework still took a really long time each night. It's hard to know how much you should be studying. You don't want to overwork yourself for no good reason, but you also want to get good grades. It was really hard to find a balance first semester.

It was also hard to figure out a good place to study. I like studying at home, but there wasn't much room on my desk. The kitchen table was a good size, but it was in a shared space and I didn't want to get in anyone's way. The kitchen chairs are also relatively hard, so it wasn't comfortable sitting there for an extended period of time. I didn't like going to the library to study, so I mostly just studied in my bed.

I was living with brand new people, and it always takes some adjusting to figure out a system and keep everyone happy. Taking care of and snuggling with James was the most relaxing thing for me. 

I made a few good friends at school, but since we were still separated in sections, it was hard to get to know people in the other section. I felt like people in my section had already made friendships, and it was hard for me to put myself out there and try to broaden my friendship circle because I was insecure and lonely. I really wanted close friends, but I was so stressed because of school and home stuff that it felt like there was no point.

It's not like I didn't have friends. I liked almost every single person in my class. UNH Law had some killer parties, like the Halloween party. I hung out with Abby a lot, and Stephanie and I went to Siam Orchid a lot for girl talk and great food. I don't want to downplay the great friendships I did have - just that I felt isolated.

I really loved all my classes, but it almost seemed like I was missing something - like, I was doing all the reading and even reading supplements (especially later in the semester), but it certainly didn't feel like I was an expert in any subject. Torts was a really fun class and probably my favorite, but I also really liked Civil Procedure. Since I was a file clerk/legal secretary for years, I came into it knowing what Motions and Answers and stuff were. It helped put things in perspective.

I also never made a fool of myself when I was cold called, so that was nice.

Truth time: I was the most lonely I have ever been in my entire life.

I missed my family, I missed my boyfriend, and I missed my friends. I'm typically a really independent person, so I thought moving out here on my own wouldn't be a big deal. I think I underestimated the difference being truly alone can make. While I had friends at school, it just wasn't the same thing as having friends that have known you for years and you feel comfortable snuggling with. No one touched me for months. I felt very isolated and I missed the people who loved me the most.

My grandparents came to visit me about halfway through the semester, and I cried when they left. I visited my parents in September, and cried when I left. When I came home for Christmas, I spent it with J's family, which was great because I love them and obviously I love J, but it wasn't the same as spending it with my family. My mom sent me my stocking in the mail... and I cried. There was a lot of crying last semester.

I lost about 15 lbs last semester. I don't know if was because of stress or because I was sad, and I don't want to imply that it was "healthy" or "unhealthy." It just was. I don't eat when I'm emotional - I stop eating, which probably explains my weight loss. I think I worked out once the entire semester.

2nd Semester
At first:
I was a little bummed coming back because my grades weren't very good from first semester, but I was also determined to get them up this semester! I came back much more relaxed. I already knew how to case brief, how to read legal textbooks, and how to study. It wasn't like I had to learn anything drastically new - just apply those learned skills to new classes.

The homework load seemed so much more do-able this semester. I wasn't surprised by the amount of reading, and I always got my homework finished before 11pm every night. Since some of my grades were lower 1st semester, I knew that I needed to change up my study habits and put more effort into preparing for tests, even months ahead of time. I started creating outlines before midterms, which really, really helped at the end of the semester for finals.

In the future, I'm definitely going to take my outlining more seriously throughout the year. The more I study and understand during class and during the school year, the less stressed I'll be for finals. I still don't have most of my grades back, so it's hard to tell how much my study habits improved this semester, haha. The one grade I got back was excellent, so I think that's a good sign. :)

James was a little more trouble this semester. He started scratching on my door 1st semester, but the scratching habit got way worse this time around. He started scratching on my roommates' door too, which obviously wasn't ideal. I think he's just a nosy cat (like most cats are), but it was still really annoying. I put up some sticky pads that were supposed to stop him from scratching surfaces. They worked really, really well for about a week, but then he just ignored them and went right back to scratching. *sigh*

I realized that half the reason I was so lonely last semester was that I wasn't putting myself out there. Like, I can't be sad that I wasn't invited out when I'm not going out or inviting people out either. I tried a lot harder this semester to hang out with people from school and invite others to hang out with me. The result was that I was infinitely less lonely, I felt so much more connected with people, and I made some really great friendships that I had only started developing last semester.

I'm sure it helped that my class was all getting used to each other, so it was easier to form friendships and have intimate conversations. Regardless, I think it was really important that I started putting myself out there. If I had done this more 1st semester, I think I would have been so much happier.

Classes went really well this semester. I worked really hard to keep up with my outlining (as a I said before), which made me feel like I was understanding the material better. I really liked all my classes, and I loved that we got to do more experiential learning! Even if it was stressful and confusing sometimes, I think it was really good for me to be forced to speak and argue in front of my classmates. I even got to argue in a real courtroom at the end of the semester!

Along with forming closer friendships 2nd semester, I also felt much more connected to J and my family! Everyone did a really fabulous job of making me feel loved and supported. J even flew up to see me this semester, so he got to spend a week with me in New Hampshire. It was sooo good for my soul to see him and have him in my little world. My mom also flew up to see me this semester, so I spent a long weekend with her! She hadn't seen my school, my apartment, or Concord yet! I think she really enjoyed seeing my environment and knowing who I was talking about when I mentioned names. All in all, it felt so much more natural and safe with my loved ones visiting me. It made such a huge difference!

I gained some weight back over Christmas break, which was probably good for me. I lost a little more over the course of the semester, but not nearly as much as 1st semester. I felt really healthy and good about myself. I still didn't work out a lot, but I did yoga a handful of times and ate pretty well!

There were times both semesters when I seriously thought about quitting law school, or at least transfering to Drake, back in Iowa. Only once during 2nd semester, thank goodness. I'm so glad I stuck with it. I really love my school, even though it's so far away from my friends and family back in Iowa and South Carolina.

All in all, this was a confusing, stressful, challenging, fun, exciting year of law school. I grew so much as a person, as a girlfriend, as a daughter and sister, and as a future lawyer. I think I learned how to "survive" on my own, and became stronger with the knowledge that I could be self-sufficient if I needed to be. I'm so grateful that my friends and family supported me over this past year, because it was not easy. I cried a lot, I stressed even more, and I was not a walk in the park. I'm sure I was not easy to live with, even without James scratching on doors. 

Despite all the negative, I think I learned to embrace positivity more second semester and tried hard to find the good in situations. I laughed at myself a lot and tried not to take things too seriously. Ultimately, I think it was a rough year, but one that was absolutely necessary for my own self-growth. I am definitely better for the experience, and I can't wait until August to go back!

((Just kidding - this is gonna be an awesome summer!))

Saturday, May 24

Mixing It Up

I haven't done an outfit post in a really long time, mostly due to the fact that I've had nowhere to take pictures and no one to take them for me even if I did. But I decided to dress up and take some earlier this week just for the heck of it. Because I like doing and I really liked my outfit!

Vest: Urban Outfitters
Shirt: Forever 21
Jeans: Urban Outfitters
Shoes: Toms 

I'm not usually one for mixing patterns, but I just felt like it worked here. It felt fun and playful! And jeeze, when it's 92 outside, I don't want to have to tuck things in, but I still want to be comfortable. I think the vest is a little bit of a safety blanket too, making sure my tummy's not too exposed, haha.

I also tried to get a little more... me in pictures. I guess I've been under the impression that outfit pictures should be cute and perfect and poised, which I think makes me look stiff and just not like me. So I decided to make a total fool of myself and actually take pictures that look like me in real life. It turns out, I like them a hell of a lot more than the pictures I usually take, haha. I hope you like them too. :)

That's my belly button. I'm showing the whole world. HOW SCANDELOUS.
What do you think of my new "technique?" Do you like the pattern mixing? Do you have an area of your body you tend to keep hidden?

Thursday, May 22

Easy-Peasy Tom Yum Soup!

I keep promising a recipe for this, and I just keep failing to deliver it! Well, today's the day. I got two comments on my last instagram post of this soup to share it, so share it I will!

I found a recipe on Pinterest last fall for Tom Yum soup. Now, I don't know how authentic it was. I know that when I order "Tom Yum Seafood Soup" at Siam Orchid, it does not look one bit like this. But I also know that I've eaten this soup ALMOST every day for a week since I've moved to Des Moines, and I also know that I survived my first year of law school eating it whenever I could. So there's that!

Time to cook: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 3-4
Calories per serving: ~130
  • 2 cups Swanson's Vegetable Broth
  • 1 cup Swanson's 100% Natural Thai Ginger Broth
  • 1/3 can of Coconut milk
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • A large handful of Spinach
  • Baby Corn
  • ~10 medium frozen Shrimp
  • 1 cup frozen Edemame
  • Sriracha (to taste)
  • Pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Splash of lime juice

The amounts you use should really depend on how big your pot on the stove is - the one I used back in New Hampshire was massive, so I basically doubled the recipe. The one I have here in Des Moines is much smaller, so I just try and fit everything in without spilling over the top. :)

  • Start with the broth, coconut milk, and lime in the pot, with the heat around medium. 
  • While waiting for it to heat up, I thaw my shrimp so I can take the tails off (I tossed them in with tails once, and it was practically impossible to get the tails off when they were piping hot. Big mistake!). 
  • Toss the frozen edamame directly in the broth and give it a quick stir.
  • While you wait for the broth to heat up, rinse off your spinach. I use TONS of spinach because I love it & because NUTRIENTS. I try and add more than one large handful if I have room. The spinach should go in as soon as possible so it has time to soak up the liquid and shrink!
  • Slice up your broccoli & mushrooms and wash them well. You can use as many or as few as you'd like, but again, I load mine up with veggies.
  • Open the can of baby corn, cut them up if you have to, and add the corn, broccoli, & mushrooms to the pot. 
  • Toss in your shrimp if you haven't already done so.
  • When everything else is in there, add Sriracha and pepper flakes to taste. Odd as it may seem, they are both necessary. I've tried making it before with each instead of both, and each time it just wasn't right.
  • Stir the pot every few minutes to make sure everything's warming up nicely, and just wait! Once everything's hot, it's ready to eat!

It's really a simple, easy recipe, and besides adding the ingredients to the pot, it takes almost no time or effort to make. You could easily relax and watch a show while it's cooking. :)

It's also really good for you! There's a lot of good fat from the coconut milk, tons of veggies, and it has a nice kick to it. It does have a pretty high amount of sodium from the broth, but I don't add any more salt to it, and I don't think it needs it.

Have you ever made this before? Do you think you'll try this recipe out? What veggies would you put in it?

Wednesday, May 21

Life Lately {vol. 21}

Nailed it, Siri...

I had my first HyVee Chinese since being back and it was SPECTACULAR.

This little sweetie leaves you alone in the morning UNTIL you start moving. Then he whines and cries like a tiny baby, but it's so hard to stay mad at him with that little face. :)

James wanted nothing to do with Leif when we re-introduced them, but they warmed up to each other really quickly!

Sometimes I can't even deal with my weird cats.

J introduced me to the show "True Detective," and I'm super hooked despite how dark it is. Maybe I grew tougher skin in law school? Anyway, I'm obsessed and plan on finishing the season this coming weekend!

J and I went to Oyama as a coming-home present for me! They NEVER disappoint. In heaven, God will have Oyama sushi served.

I hadn't seen the dogs in a reeeally long time, and it was great to get outside and play with them! Notice Winston trying to lick J in the second picture?! It kills me every time!
I drove to Des Moines on Wednesday while J took his last final. I feel like a lot of my law school friends asked about how Iowa looked, and while this is not how the entire state looks, it's definitely 90% of the drive from Iowa City to Des Moines!

I had a late Mother's Day dinner with my mom Wednesday night, and we spotted this on the table! Just can't separate New Hampshire and Iowa anymore, can we?

I took Mom to the airport Thursday morning around 5am, but everyone slept horribly the whole night. J and I weren't used to the city noises. Even when I went back to sleep, I still woke up before 8am...

I'm staying in Mom's Des Moines apartment this summer while I work at her law firm as a law clerk! Isn't her apartment darling?!

On Thursday, J and I headed to A Dong's for lunch! It was SPECTACULAR. Usually I don't like Bubble tea because of the flavors, but I found this year that I LOVE the green tea flavor! J and I shared one, but we easily could have had our own. It was the best Bubble tea I've had ever, and the lunch was perfect, as always.

These are both different pictures from the window of my apartment. I looove living in a real city, even if it's a small one like Des Moines.

All in all, it was such a perfect week off. J and I spent Thursday evening snuggling and relaxing, which was something I'd badly needed. I really love that I can just BE with him.

I've had a really great time in Des Moines so far! I've seen a few friends and started getting used to my new apartment. I don't know if it's because of the time change or just because it's me, but I've been going to bed really early lately. I didn't get good sleep the first few nights because of all the noise, but I think I'm slowly getting used to it. :)

Wednesday, May 7

15 Things I Can't Wait to Do in Des Moines!

In only a few days, I'll be moving back to Des Moines for the summer! It's kind of crazy to think how fast (and slowww) this school year went by. This fall felt like it dragged on for years, while this spring felt like it was gone in a flash. Maybe it was because I was better adjusted, or just happier, this spring. Who knows!

While I'm going to miss my friends from school desperately, I'm also super pumped to be spending the summer in one of my favorite cities! So here's a list of the things I'm excited to do this summer in Des Moines!
  1. See my mom more often -- We'll be sharing an apartment when she's in town, so I'll get to see her at least a week a month, maybe more!
  2. See J & Leif more often -- This is a given, haha.
  3. See my friends in the Des Moines area -- I have so many friends still in the area, and hopefully I'll be able to visit with them all at least once before I move back in the fall!
  4. Work at the best law firm in Iowa everrr: Fiedler & Timmer, PLLC! Full of smart, strong, ambitious people who I love and respect, fighting the good fight!
  5. A Dong's -- Easily the best Vietnamese in the state, and I'll be live about 2 minutes away. Dangerous...
  6. Fong's Pizza -- All day, every day.
  7. Visit the Blank Park Zoo -- Assuming I have time, this would be SUCH a great summer activity!
  8. Go to Zombie Burger for the first time -- Yeah, I've lived in the area for years since it opened and never eaten there. We're gonna fix that this summer.
  9. Walk around the East Village & try not to spend all my money - especially at Hill Vintage and Raygun. Eeek!
  10. Visit the Art Center -- I haven't been there in years, and there's nothing like art to put your life in perspective.
  11. Sakari Sushi Lounge -- I love this place in Des Moines! You can always count on girls in tight, leopard print dresses for people-watching and cheap, delicious sushi.
  12. The Des Moines Farmer's Market -- I'm going to be living for half the summer about a block from Court Ave, so this is my #1 priority every Saturday. You haven't seen a farmer's market until you've seen the one in Des Moines. Plus, Saloo's Indian makes the best vegetable cutlets in the world. Proven fact.
  13. The Royal Mile & The Hessen Haus -- Strongbow on tap & themed bars. Yep.
  14. Van Dee's Ice Cream -- I grew up on this ice cream, and I've definitely been in withdrawal!
  15. Start training -- I told J he should train for a half marathon, which turned into him refusing unless I did it too. So I'm going to start running seriously again this summer. Given that I haven't run further than 5 miles in one time, this is going to be an interesting summer, haha.
Do you have anything else for the list? Did I forget something obvious? 
Are you excited for this summer?

Friday, May 2

Life Lately {vol. 20}

I gave blood for the first time a few weeks ago! I almost fainted a few times, but I survived. ;)

 Completely obsessed with my homemade Tom Yum soup recipe! 

Since I'm moving back to Iowa for the summer, I decided to switch up my winter & spring/summer clothes. This is literally 90% of the clothes I own, haha.

My friend Ally had a Beer Olympics-themed party a few weeks ago, and my friend Brendan & I went as Scotland. I hear we won. No big deal or anything. Don't mess with Scotland!

I've been using my food processor to make the most delicious green smoothies!

My mom came visit me in New Hampshire for the first two weeks ago! She wanted a shot of me with the UNH Law sign, and it turned out pretty great. :)

Isn't my mom gorgeous?!
I think busts of famous dead people are SO cool. Photographs are obviously great, but it's not 3D. Looking at busts of Thomas Jefferson & George Washington was kind of magical, like being face-to-face with a huge part of American history.

I had an immediately connection to this girl. The caption said she was pretending she was a mom & the cat was her baby, but I feel pretty confident that girl just really loves her cat.

Mom and I had tea at the cafe in the Museum. Super over-priced, but the tea was delicious.

Snapchats from J are always precious, but this Easer one with him and Leif completely melted my heart!

Last Monday I got the chance to argue a summary judgment argument in front of a mock-judge, which went really well! Afterwards, I went over to my friend Jay's place to watch "Game of Thrones," and Tyler made us - get this - celery margaritas! AND THEY WERE SPECTACULAR.

On Thursday, I gave the same summary judgment argument to audition for Moot Court! It said "courtroom attire," so naturally I wore a fox scarf as a tie. Say what you will, but I felt like a badass all day. What does it say about femininity in the law when a "tie" makes me feel strong? Maybe it was just that it was a risque move...

Last Friday was my last day of 1L classes! :O I rewarded myself by going to Starbucks.

This week, after studying all day in the library, I relaxed by watching American Horror Story and eating healthy tortellini soup. :)

One of the great things about having "long" hair is being able to do kinda weird stuff with it. I pinned it to one side this week and loved how it looked!

James has been super snuggly all week!

I should have been born in the '80s. Crop top, high-waisted purple velvet pants, an oversized demin shirt, and super puffy hair. Yeah.
Yesterday a group of us went to Live Juice for lunch and wheat grass shots, and to take a study break!
If you all didn't know, I'm in the midst of finals right now, which is the #1 reason I haven't been posting very regularly! I just had my Property final this morning and I think it went well! :) I guess we'll see when I get my grades back, haha. I still have my Sales final on Tuesday and my Constitutional Law final on Friday, so lots of studying left to go!

And then after my finals, I start driving back to Iowa on Saturday! How is summer this close already?!