The prodigal professor. The globetrotting guru. The traveling tutor. Whatever you want to call me, my name is Jay and I am freshly back in to the good ‘ol US of A teaching Blueprint LSAT classes in Irvine. On top of being thrilled to be back in the fantastically plastic Orange County, I find I breathe a little easier once I’m back in a country where people drive on the right (read: correct) side of the road. Despite the obvious cultural shocks of returning to the States after this most recent trek through New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Laos and South Africa, I have started to consider that maybe my Jekkyl and Hyde lifestyles of LSAT teacher and backpacker are not all that different from each other.
Other than the fact that two weeks ago I was picking the last bits of succulent meat off of a rack of warthog’s ribs in Cape Town, and last night I watched my roommates fight to near-death over the last McRib, my daily dietary regimen may not be that different. Sure I don’t go around eating giant emperor scorpions in Newport Beach (that’s dedicated to Khao San Road in Bangkok), but my daily eating schedule may be quite similar.
As a backpacker, starving yourself is appealing. Why? Because you’re living life like a veritable homeless person, spending whatever money you have on booze rather than food almost strictly because the booze will mean greater stories. Sure the occasional rice dish or English breakfast are necessary to sop up whatever strange mix of alcohol and insects you’re currently digesting, but it’s fairly low on a good backpacker’s priority list.
As a full-time LSAT instructor, I also have gained some weird eating habits. Try maintaining an appropriate eating schedule when you leave the house at 5pm and get home at 10:30 every weeknight. I can tell I didn’t make enough for lunch when the ginger babe in the Wendy’s logo starts winking at me when I pass by at near 11pm after a workshop. One major connecting line between my diet at home and abroad is the glorious and shameless consumption of a well-earned meal after a long night of drinking. At home I’ll head to the local dive bar after class, shoot darts, drink pitchers, and hit up any of the several Mexican taco shops on the way home. As tasty as any taco stand that ends in –berto’s can be, late night options are just better abroad. Whether it’s rice bowls from a street cart for thirty cents, French fries with mayonnaise, or the ubiquitous Doner Kebabs, there is a wide-world of drunk food just waiting for your consumption.
I suppose hygiene is one of the few big changes in my life. Now that I’m back home I have once again made friends with a razor, to make sure that only Colin and Dave catch flak for being Blueprint’s resident yetis. This look may pull Scandinavian chicks going after the whole Viking appeal, but LSAT students in Southern California get a little uneasy with an instructor whose beard looks like Wolverine’s after he joined the Taliban.
As far as fashion goes, I have begun the transition from backpacker back into Newport Beach hipster chic. I shaved my South African mullet into a nice buzzcut, gave up my baggy Thai pants for skinny designer jeans, my scent has gone from “tropical” flavored mosquito spray to Chanel cologne, and I’ve traded all my colorful string bracelets for nice watches. However, my favorite part of both traveling and teaching LSAT classes for Blueprint remains a constant: being barefoot about 90% of the time.
In LSAT teaching and backpacking, bringing the right gear is essential. Both fields share an applicable motto of ‘less is more.’ It’s easy to survive for 90 days out of a backpack when the pressures of doing silly things like changing your underwear daily fade with palm trees and pina coladas. When you’re traveling alone and meeting new people every day, you only really need one decent outfit. With the LSAT, at least at first, less is certainly more. We want you to come in to the first day of class like walking off the plane into some unknown territory, with nothing but a pencil and an open mind. Over-planning and dabbling in different study methods before you start a Blueprint LSAT course will certainly muddle what should otherwise be a clearly lit path. Your books and your instructor will be the best tour guide you’ll ever know. At least a hell of a lot smarter than the one I had while cliff jumping in the Andaman islands, whose only words in English were “jump” and “spliff.”
I call myself lucky to be among the few who get to see some of the amazing and weird things the world has to offer, but even luckier to come home to a job that I love. The LSAT is just about the only reason I still live in the States, and I hope that with the right approach you can learn to enjoy it as much as I do. Yes, there is certainly something to be said about living abroad and realizing my wild side has a wilder side but the most fun I have is in the classroom.