Friday, January 7, 2005

Retroblogging 2004

Lyn is right when she says that 2004 was, for most people we know, a momentous year - one that I think we'll all look back on as a turning point. For me it's seen me cement myself in graduate study (making the transition from Masters to PhD student) and equally make a definate commitment to the academic career-path in law. There's also been the huge psychological reorientation of Cambridge becoming "home", a city I while wind up living longer in than any since I was in Canberra.

Personal top 5

Looking back on 2004, I feel enormously grateful and privileged in a number of things, principally being fortunate enough to find funding both for my LLM and now for my PhD. I l know I'm lucky to have succeeded in both, not in that I got there other than on merit - but there are so many equally qualified people competing for these things that there is always an element of luck in the selection. You have a responsibility, in a weird way, to the ten people who didn't get your place.

I was really priveleged being in the last class of graduate students taught by my theory of international law guru. It's a rare teacher who really changes the contents of your head and inspires you to continue what you're doing.

I also had the good fortune to engage in probably more travel than any point since my childhood. Barcelona and Budapest were the two best weeks of my summer. Seeing Singapore, East Berlin, Dublin, Florence, Milan, Prague, York, Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands was also amazing.

Also, in a year of hard work to get the grades I needed to stay on for the PhD, I don't think I missed out on the Cambridge experience. I debated for the Cambridge Union and got back on stage (I need a public performance outlet in my life, and had forgotten how much I enjoyed being on stage). I went to formal dinners and May Balls. (May week is, of course, approximately two weeks in June. You have not seen opulence until you've seen one of the seriously big May Balls.)

I was enourmously lucky in terms of falling into a set of Cambridge communities. My two different sets of "flatmates" in the 2004 calander year have both been fantastic, vibrant, inclusive, interesting people from a variety of educational and national backgrounds. My "law" community has also been good to me: supportive, collaborative colleagues who are fun to drink with. I am particularly grateful, though, for having been accepted by a small, friendly and old College. It's wonderful to be a part of an institution that's cozy without being snobbish and that has a sense of tradition without being stuffy. It may not be the richest college, or the most architecturally beautiful; but it is renowned as the prettiest, and possibly one of the most welcoming. It's nice to feel part of a supportive local "family". One is certainly somewhat institutionalised living in college accomodation, but it's an institution which (refreshingly, after corporate law) makes no demands of conformity.

Obviously, the support of friends and family back home has been incredibly important in coping with the weird culture-shock of being in a place where you speak the language, but are definately a foreigner (if less foreign than some ... )

Okay, that's six - so shoot me.

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