Nicky's Big American Adventure

Blog

Nicky Arenberg is a future lawyer at Universidad de Chile's Law school. He is also a founding member of the Jewish Students Federation of Chile and Coordinator for Eldiariojudio.com.

I traveled to Ithaca, NY to attend a Special JD Exchange Program at Cornell Law School with the help of a “Go Professional!” Micro Grant from ROI. Last year I got accepted into the JD exchange program for foreign students at Cornell Law School. This was a unique opportunity to get immersed into a completely different legal and educational system, a chance to spend a semester at one of the top schools in my field, as well as an opportunity to experience American college life and all it has to offer.

So I left the Chilean spring for the cold and beautiful Ithaca, armed with two suitcases and a lease for a room I got off Craigslist, and started my semester. Cornell Law School’s mission (in the words uttered on the day of its founding) is to produce “well-trained, large-minded, morally based lawyers in the best sense.” That vision—when paired with the school’s global, dynamic and interdisciplinary approach to legal education—provided me with great professors and challenging subjects, that allowed me to specialize my knowledge in areas as different as intellectual property and American law in relation to the mental health system.

But of course, not everything about this trip was about academic benefits. A big part of the experience, for me, was getting out of my comfort zone; moving from a big Latin-American capital to a small college town on the frozen wasteland of upstate NY proved to be a completely different cultural and social setting, where most of the pop culture clichés about Ivy League education and American college life proved to be based on real life.  And there is where this semester thrived for me: from the people to the climate, the majestic campus and the crazy parties showed me a microcosm that came halfway between Legally Blond and The Rules of Attraction.

During my months at Cornell I also decided to experience how the different Jewish organizations interacted with the local community in one of the US’s most important campuses. High Holidays services, regular Shabbat dinners, speakers (that ranged from the Fonz to Ari Shavit) and fun outings like group ice skating gave me a fresh take on ways that we in Chile can contribute to Jewish life and activities in our local campuses.

My exchange semester at Cornell Law School provided me with a formative and eye-opening experience in every sense of the word, and that wouldn’t have been possible without the awesome people I met in Ithaca and the help of my ROI Micro Grant.

As always, I am beyond grateful for the constant support of ROI and its team in my quest to follow my dreams. GO BIG RED!