The Transition Period: I Took A Road Trip With My Friends
Caption: Carlos and his friends at a Llama Farm in Virginia on Day One of the road trip.
In the first installment of the Transition Period series, Carlos Maycotte '07, a recent law school graduate shares his story with us. You can read more about his adventures here.
1.Give us a little background. How did your experiences as a college student impact what you wanted to do after graduation?
Well, my “thing” at Cornell was the newspaper. I was a columnist at The Cornell Daily Sun for three years, and for one of those years I was also the Associate Editor, which meant they let me edit the opinion section. My job as an editor included a lot of discussion and debate with a group of columnists and contributors as opinionated as they were diverse, as well as a lot of moderating arguments and conflicts. Also putting out fires, both literal and figurative. When you couple that with the several excellent courses in my government major which were Supreme Court-centric and legally related, law school seemed to be the natural thing to do following college.
2.Tell us about your transition experience. Was it part of your post-graduation plans?
Transition experience? That makes it sound like the church scene at the end of Lost. Which, in a way, is fitting. For a long time, I analogized the end of college to having a dead girlfriend. Stay with me here. I loved college. College and I were great together, we brought out the best in each other and we were very much in love. But then, one day, due to forces beyond our control, someone came in and gave me a piece of paper and told me college and I could never see each other again. Ever. And that was devastating. Sure, you can go back on occasion and bring some flowers and visit and talk to it, but it’s gone. It’s not the same. All of a sudden you have to move on, and while thats nice to do, it still hurts. I can’t tell you how many times, in the middle of law school finals, I would pour myself a Scotch, walk to my window, and look out at the rain.
I don’t think that answered your question.
2a. No, it didn’t.
Anyway, the transition experience. I guess that would be the great Three Jews and a Mexican Road Trip of ’07. See, because I am a Mexican citizen, I was in between student visas in the summer after I graduated. My Cornell visa had expired upon graduation, but my law school visa did not start until the first day of classes. I was in some sort of immigration limbo – again, church scene in Lost – and couldn’t leave the country to go home for a bit or get a job. So I was in for a boring summer.
And then one of my buddies was moving to California for a bit and suggested a road trip. And we’d take three weeks and start in Jersey and go down to the Carolinas and Smokey Mountain National Park and then hit Nashville and Memphis and then go on through Mississippi and into New Orleans and spend a couple of days there and then go on to Houston, Austin, San Antonio before setting off across West Texas and hitting New Mexico, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and finishing up on the California coast. And we’d see everything in between.
3. What were your other options?
Well, I could have sat. Maybe on my couch, maybe outside, if it wasn’t too humid or Ithacating. Hibernating was also an option. There’s no better word for it, and I did about two weeks of that following May and Senior Week and Graduation Weekend. I could have done more of that. I guess I could also have puttered around for a bit, but visa restrictions really limited my range of options.
4. Why did you choose this opportunity? What influenced your decision in doing so?
Well, it was a better option than nothing. Also, come on. A road trip with your friends where you get to see America? I can think of no better time to do that than following college. Mostly because I can’t think of how difficult it would be for all four of us to have a month off at the same time, given that we’d all either be in law school or at a job or doing whatever else it is that grown-ups are supposed to do. And a chance to see America? Tremendous. Sign me up.
5. What did people around you think about this decision?
Mostly it was a mixture of excitement, envy, and good old fashioned consternation. One friend compared it to that feeling that parents must have when they see their kid drive the car alone and by himself for the first time. So we got a lot of tips, contact information for friends and family around the country, and, most importantly, the cell and home phone numbers of various attorneys licensed to practice in the states through which we’d travel.
6. What do you see as benefits and drawbacks of this experience?
Everyone should do an extended road trip at least once in their lives. So much stuff happens when you’re living out of your suitcase for a month, and on the road, and seeing and doing all these things that you’d never get to do otherwise is awesome. You get to talk to strangers, reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while, and travel through all these different cultures inside America. I mean, one day we started our morning with a hike into the Grand Canyon and that same night ended up getting yelled at by a Russian dealer at the Tropicana in Vegas. Every time you get into a new region or state, it’s a whole different animal.
I honestly don’t see any drawbacks. I had a nagging fear when the trip began that we’d all get sick of each other after three weeks in a car with nothing to do but talk to each other. But in fact, quite the opposite happened. That was nice.
7. How did the road trip impact your subsequent endeavors?
Hell, it sounds hackneyed to say it, but it really does give you an all new perspective. The South is like a whole other country. Texas wants to actually be its own other country. There is nothing in America like New Orleans. Pictures of the Grand Canyon just don’t cut it – describing the actual thing is beyond my abilities, but you just have to see it. And we got to see so many random things and walk through so many different streets and just get to see so many different parts of the same country and it’s just remarkable that one country can fit within it so many disparate and seemingly paradoxical things. To carry that with you as you step out of the Cornell bubble to the larger world beyond is incredibly valuable. And I know that sounded incredibly pretentious, like something Tony Robbins would charge you two hundred dollars to hear, but there you go.
8. What advice would you give to college students and recent graduates about how to use their transition period?
I would absolutely recommend a road trip with your friends. It’s an awesome experience. Like I mentioned, I can’t think of another point in your life where it will be so convenient, where you’ll have the energy to do something of that magnitude, and where you won’t have anything else in your life clamoring for attention. For the next sixty years there will always be stuff to do. Take a month or two after you graduated, before the stuff grabs a hold of you and drags you kicking and screaming into adulthood, and hang out with your friends in a place or places that aren’t NYC, Long Island, or the Palms. So worth it.
Did you take a road trip during or after college? Do you have any questions for Carlos?