plane-4Illustrated by Minji Reem

Despite my initial inclination to find comfort in befriending some Spanish-speaking students like myself, the LL.M. program at Columbia started teaching me lessons the moment I stepped into Jerome Greene Hall. Many times, when we say we embrace diversity, we mean enjoying world cuisine or traveling to other countries for vacation; yet, appreciating real diversity—beyond just good food and world wonders—is without a doubt one of the best things I’ll take from the LL.M. program this year.

I am lucky to have had a dose of the world every day, when I find myself staring at my classmates in the middle of crowded lectures or studying at the library. I’ve seen how students from different backgrounds all similarly work hard; despite the perceived differences in upbringing and work ethic, all of my friends are dedicated students, as evidenced by their late library hours and class participation.

Many students, having worked prior to coming to Columbia, seem to know how to balance studies, sports, and an active social life as painlessly as they switch between languages (since for most of us, our first language is not English).

This past year has been an enriching adventure of cultural discovery. This year’s LL.M. group from all over the world has added layers of complexity to what I (wrongly) expected would be the simplistic, stereotypical definition of their home cultures. Yes, Europeans have shared their multicultural flair, and Latin Americans have added the bustling energy of an emerging continent—but most importantly, I found myself surrounded by many of the most driven lawyers I have ever met, and I see in each one of them the uniquely international, intelligent lawyer contributing to a more open, accepting, and definitionally diverse environment.

I will always be grateful for the valuable lessons I learned from each and every one of my classmates. I honestly had never seen such a heterogeneous group, and in such an open, accepting environment..

In the end, we have more in common than we thought: we are studying a foreign legalsystem, (most of us) in a foreign language, in a foreign country, and therefore have jointly developed special survival skills. Among this wonderful mix of people, living in New York City has been a very special experience. Upon graduation, our once-upon-a-time neighbors will be scattered all over the world, and from then on our visits will not consist of crossing Broadway, but flying across the Atlantic Ocean. However, I don’t doubt that the friendships we developed will make the visits worthwhile.