Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Into the swing

It's finally here: the first week of my last year of law school. Classes start Wednesday, but to pick up textbooks, course packets, and a check from financial aid, I went up to campus yesterday for the first time since May.
Langdell Hall was decked out in crimson banners for 1L Orientation, and the trees on Holmes Field were impossibly huge and green compared with the crunchy dryness of Texas plant life this time of year. It was wonderful to be back and totally bizarre to think it would only last eight more months. I was literally looking forward to the reunions already.

Of course, not every part of my day went smoothly. I got to Financial Services only to realize I had never filled out some necessary Web form and would need to do so, then wait two hours for them to process it, before I could pick up my check. Luckily, I ran into a friend who also needed to go textbook shopping, so we did that in the meantime. I was happy to see that my Administrative Law class uses the same book I already bought for 1L Legislation and Regulation, but less pleased when the "abridged" version of the Internal Revenue Code I needed for Taxation was still thicker than my fist. In hindsight, I guess I was naive for expecting otherwise.

On the bright side, my new schoolbag proved itself worthy by carrying half my haul back to campus very comfortably. But I was still pretty hot and sweaty when I got back to Financial Services, where my check wasn't quite ready yet. Unlike heating in winter, air conditioning in summer isn't something folks in Cambridge always get right. So I continued to sweat while waiting and catching up with several classmates who were doing the same.

To clarify, this check contains the balance on my student loans and grants after tuition, student health insurance, and some other fees are paid. Harvard takes what it's owed and gives you the remainder, in my case around $10,800, for living expenses (which are an acceptable purpose for education loans - who knew? This was all Greek to me when I started at Harvard, since my parents were able to pay for undergrad at my relatively cheap state school with no help from financial aid. But by now it's old hat.)

Once the check was finally ready and I deposited it at my credit union in the Square, I couldn't help but lug all my books to the new Anthropologie on Brattle Street to shop. It felt SO GOOD to have money again after my incredibly cash-strapped summer. I didn't buy anything, but being able to try on several things in earnest was a breath of fresh air on a hot, sticky day.

I also wanted to pick out a good notebook, since laptops won't be allowed in 2-3 of my classes this semester, but for once my favorite stationery store let me down. There are other good places to try, like the enormous school-supply floor of the COOP, but I decided to go back when I didn't have half my weight in case books in tow. So I headed home to cool off, watch some Buffy, make tofu with couscous and generally enjoy one of these last lazy nights with Russell.

With that stuff out of the way, today should be a little more fun. Some friends are having a picnic on Cambridge Common in a few hours, so I'm about to get cleaned up and put together a lunch to bring to that. And tonight I have a shopping date with Anush at a classy little mall we like near MIT, which should take care of the last of my back-to-school needs. I may just be ready to start this last year of law school out right.... Gulp.

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