Do you know the feeling, when something you have enjoyed is coming to an end? You thought about it since three years, you planned it since one and a half years, you lived it for (only) nine month, you enjoyed each and every second of fun, stress, Columbia life, New York life, new friendship, academic challenge – just every second. And now it is about to happen: you are saying farewell to your fellow classmates, your professors, your flatmates, your new friends from all over the world. You are saying goodbye to what you could call home throughout the last year. You are traveling to the airport. You are passing the security check. You are sitting in the plane. You are becoming excited and melancholic at the same time. You are realizing: “home home” – it is really happening. Somehow this feeling seems familiar – didn’t you feel somewhat the same the day you arrived?
The LLM experience is what everybody tells you when trying to convince you why you should take up the challenge of doing a LLM. One may argue if it really is the best year of your life. How do you define “best”? But, it definitely is a year of your life, which will leave a big and heavy footprint on the storyboard of your life. It will provide you with innumerable stimuli, academically and personally.
You might not realize during the year, as you are struggling with all these tiring papers and essays and readings, but if you decide not to make an “ERASMUS-LLM” and take the LLM more or less not only as an opportunity to pay 68.000 dollar tuition for a year of partying in New York, you can improve your (legal and professional) skills substantially. Columbia Law School and the entire environment you will be in will challenge you. Columbia Law School will improve you. Columbia Law School is definitely more than just a big name, you will be entitled to put after your name. You will realize during the year, the LLM year will make you think about your life, your plans, yourself. For most of us, it is a period in life, which requires decisions, be it jobs, where to live, how to live, whatever. The LLM year, where you are immersed into work, challenges, and where you receive thousand incentives and opportunities every day, makes you to question your habits and your views on and approaches to life. The LLM will contribute to getting to know yourself. And last (for here), but certainly not least, at some point you will realize that you have a new home not only in New York, but all over the world, be it Sweden, Mexico or Panama – a new home where a good friend will welcome you.
Of course, all this also depends on your commitment and your choice and you, yourself. There are different ways of doing an LLM. For sure, all this is not true for everyone in my class. You do not have to study. You do not have to party. You do not have to leave Columbia’s wonderful campus for month, if you don’t want to. But, somehow, there is this spirit, this vibe in New York. People here all are somewhat crazy. People go beyond there boundaries. Why not go run at 5:30 in Central Park? Have you ever thought about this possibility before? No? Well, me neither. But in New York, it somehow happened. In New York, there is no maybe. New York is “do it”. “Try it”. “Try everything”. If you allow it, if you offer a tiny inflammable piece of yourself, New York will spark fire in you. And this is particularly true in an environment like Columbia Law School.
Now the time will start where everyone will ask: “how was it? Tell me about your LLM, your year in New York!” In a nutshell: it was intense in all respects – an intense experience making me learn a lot. While the learning experience and the intensity may vary from person to person, talking to my fellow classmates and friends, I have the sense that we all share this basic feeling.
With these thoughts, I want to thank you all for following my journey in the US, and encourage you all to make a LLM experience yourself – it need not be Columbia, it need not be New York. But for sure, where-ever and how-ever you decide to take on this challenge, it will enrich you. It will be worth it! Do it!