Alastair Cameron's Letter from America

News, views and opinions from the one kiwi expat sent to New York University on a Fulbright Scholarship to study his masters of law.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Spring has sprung, and onwards to pastures new...

I promise this isn't a whole post about the weather, but it is worth noting that spring has truly sprung here in New York, and that after such a long, cold winter it is most welcome. It seemed like overnight that temperatures went from hovering around zero into the high teens (Celsius, that is), a remarkable change. Since then, they have graduated up and down, but have got as high as 28 deg., so definitely some lovely balmy days.

The main point is that the different seasons a very noticeable in this part of the world. They are too in New Zealand of course, although less so in Wellington. The photos below go some way towards illustrating the difference. Both are of Washington Square, one taken near the start of winter and other just the other week.

The only downside to this happy transition is that I am just about to enter finals mode, meaning that I'll be spending my days cooped up in the NYU Law library either studying or taking exams. Still, it is only two weeks, so only a short-term hardship.

But yes, only two weeks until this whole academic adventure is over. We actually graduate on 12 May, which is a bit of a faux-graduation since we don't have our marks, but it makes the point - we have completed our LLMs. I felt a pang of reflectiveness at the end of my final class today, but overall am looking forward to finishing and moving-on to new challenges. Not because I haven't enjoyed the experience - it has been incredible in a whole range of ways - but because it is simply time to complete the degree and take the achievement.

Speaking of moving-on, the adventure is not over quite yet. I'm going to London to do a three month internship at the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), which is an NGO focusing on international sustainable development law. I'll be working in their climate change/energy and biodiversity/marine resources programmes, which is very exciting (particularly the climate change part). I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but whatever it is should be interesting given the work they do now. Check out their website if you're so inclined (

But before heading to London, I get to enjoy the New York spring/summer for nearly three weeks free of having any school work to do. More notably, there is a procession of visitors coming into the city before I leave who will ensure a good time. First, my big sister and brother arrive on 13 May for the week with their respective others and a whole posse of people, and then two good friends arrive from London. There were rumours of some other NZ arrivals, but they remain unconfirmed... So with the good company and the warm weather, it should be the ideal way to say goodbye to New York.

My arrival date in London is 31 May for a 5 June start date at FIELD. All going to plan, Hamish will join me in London on 31 August, at the end of the internship, after which we'll hang in London before traveling for a bit, and then returning home. Our tentative departure date is 10 October, getting us back onto New Zealand shores on 12 October. Still awaiting final confirmation of the flights, but either way, looks like an ETA of early to mid-October.

So that's my news. Will disappear into finals land for the next two weeks but will aim to post again before I leave New York, even if only with all the new photos I have of family and friends in sunny New York.

PS: I just have to mention two recent (independent) visits by two very cool Kiwis - Kate Lee (as seen in the Costa Rica post below) and Jessica Hodgson. Apart from having fun just knocking around the City together, Kate and I managed to elicit a request to bribe a bouncer so that he would let Kate into a club without ID (only $20 but the van full of NYPD officers nearby made us a little wary). And Jess and I saw the most excellent play - The History Boys - which of course played in the Wellington International Festival of the Arts. If you ever get a chance to see it, you must do so. It is a masterpiece.

Jessica outside Magnolia, a bakery in the West Village famous for its cupcakes, and made more so by the Sex in the City girls deeming it their cupcake bakery of choice.