With the start of spring semester comes the all-too-familiar blow of the 1L grind: note taking, case briefing, and lawyering. Of course, seeing the friends you were so desperate to tear yourself away from post-finals (we all can admit this to be true without sacrificing our law BFFs in the process) was great, but if I’ve learned one thing from this past fall it is the need to explore while we have the time. Greenwich Village is wonderful, but people(!), burst through the bubble we live in! There’s so much more that NYC has to offer beyond the crown-molded walls of Vanderbilt Hall.
Now, to be sure, I, too, have fallen prey to the allure of “Village Life.” Indeed, even beyond living in this area, I am a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn (and I count NJ as another borough), who has never ventured to the kingdom of Queens. I say kingdom because three weeks ago, I finally made my first trip out there and was instantly seduced by the majesty of that outer borough. As a disclaimer, there are no real palaces, horse-drawn carriages, or Rapunzels running around Astoria. What I found there instead was so much greater: an irresistible clash of cultures, cuisines, and people.
Partaking in this journey was my best friend, Alex (pictured above), who I had met while studying abroad in Rome three years ago. I highly advise everyone to reconnect with their respective Alexes before the semester begins to draw us back into states of perpetual intellectual zombiehood. Spending time with people outside of law school has made the semester that much more enjoyable. Your friends on the “outside” will lend perspectives you haven’t been used to hearing for some time, and, for me, they have really allowed me to test out my thinking outside the bounds of the classroom.
Getting back to the wonder that is Queens: for those who know me personally, it is probably a large understatement to say that I enjoy making itineraries and planning excursions. Some would venture to say I am almost dictatorial in my desires to plan out adventures (refer to the picture on the left from my 23rd birthday last year). It is true: I have an obsession with making detailed schedules, BUT it serves a greater purpose because…
It allowed, in the case of Queens, for Alex and me to do all of the following: explore Socrates Sculpture Park (the view, as you can tell from the picture of us above, is amazing), see the Noguchi Museum (a stunning space dedicated exclusively to minimalist artist Isamu Noguchi), eat an authentic Bosnian meal at a cevabdzinica with many citizens hailing from the former Yugoslavia, shop at the Euro Market (famous for its many Balkan, Eastern European, and Mediterranean delicacies at competitive prices), visit the Fisher Landau Center for Art (a haven for contemporary art enthusiasts), and revert back to our childhoods at the Museum of the Moving Image (where you can see movie gems like Marlon Brando’s mouthpiece used for the famous Godfather scene while also creating your own stop-motion flip book). All accomplished in eight hours.
Of course, all of this may not appeal to utility-maximizing transactions and the benefits of “contracting” your experience (I leave that discussion to our esteemed professors). However, what I hope to get across is the magic that is breaking beyond this five-block radius, because there IS a world out there like no other. I, for one, know that I will be venturing back to the Euro Market once a month to stock up on all the Bulgarian feta, spicy Turkish lamb sujuk sausage, and Serbian ajvar (roasted red pepper spread) that I can get my hands on.