Tag Archives: language


I learned a new word today: efflorescence

I read it in the following sentence: “The last fifteen years have seen a great efflorescence of research and advocacy relating to the collateral consequences of criminal convictions in the United States.”*

According to Wikipedia, efflorescence means, “the migration of a salt to the surface of a porous material, where it forms a coating.” Which literally makes no sense in the context of the above sentence.

Dictionary.com says more satisfyingly, but no less unhelpfully: “the state or a period of flowering.”

And finally, Merriam-Webster defines it as: “the action or process of developing and unfolding as if coming into flower.” 

After finding the third definition, I went: “Oh! What a great word to use there!”

But I’m of two minds about the author’s use of the word overall. On the one hand, I like finding new words and I think an author does me a service by introducing me to new ones, particularly if the context makes sense. On the other hand, efflorescence seems a very fancy word where something simpler (and thus more legible) might do. Like burgeoning or expansion. But perhaps those are the expected terms and the use of something like efflorescence wakes the brain from complacency. 

What are your thoughts? Is it good writing or not in this context? And does it matter that I had to look in three places to find a proper definition? 


*Alec C. Ewald, Barbers, Caregivers, and the “Disciplinary Subject”: Occupational Licensure for People with Criminal Justice Backgrounds in the United States, 46 Fordham Urb. L.J. 719, 722 (2019). Actually a very fascinating article I do recommend checking out if you’re looking for some light reading 😉 

Exchange Student

My Fundamental Rights professor does not know what to do with me. About three weeks into class, he finally walked over and asked if I was one of the students. As I sit in the front row every week, I found this question somewhat surprising. I said I was. He said, “Ahhh” and slowly backed away. 

Two weeks after that, he again walked over and asked if I was taking the midterm. I said I was. He said, “Ahhh,” and backed away. 

Finally, last week, he asked if I knew how the take-home process worked. I said I had no idea. He walked me through it, apologizing repeatedly for his poor English. 

I am still not sure if he knows I am a student like everyone else. 

It is funny the way different professors act to having an international student. Some immediately come up and talk to me; others pretend I am no different than anyone else and ignore me. Some go out of their way to explain concepts to me; others occasionally lapse into Thai when trying to explain a concept. Some call me Amy; others refer to me “your international colleague.” Or they avoid calling on me at all. 

It is an interesting dynamic and one that has made me vastly more sympathetic for all the international students in the classes I previously attended. I am glad I will have one more year of law school when I get back so I can make more an effort to reach out to them! 

180 Days

Exactly half a year ago, I was sitting between classes trying to find a Thai language app. I figured it was good to get a jump on it what with my new found interest in Thailand.

Unfortunately, I did not find one. I did notice that Duolingo finally had Korean, though. So I started there.

Today marks 180 days of doing Korean for ten minutes a day! I don’t actually know if I am learning anything, but it is fun.

Shifting Strengths

Law school does things to you; it changes the way you think and the way you interact with people. You start viewing language differently. You exist in a pressure cooker all semester and when finally released from it…the world seems different. I have struggled to explain the difference to people. I feel…firmer. Or grounded. More analytical. Possibly more capable, or at least developed. 

Yesterday I took the Clifton Strength Finders test and I might have more words now. 

The strengths test measures your inherent “talents.” It isn’t supposed to change much, at least not once you hit adulthood. Yet over the past year, my strengths shifted dramatically

I took the test the first time almost exactly a year ago. At the time, I was leaving my adult job to move to the mountains of Idaho to work as a camp counselor and hopefully attend law school in the fall. Uncertainty was my watch word. It shows in my strengths:


Roughly translated, that tells you I am a flexible, happy, smart, inclusive person. Which I like to think is true. 

I took the test again yesterday. This time my top five strengths were: 


First off, I don’t think anyone has ever called me strategic before, much less ranked that my top strength. 

Second, while input sounds cool, it really just means I collect things like words, books, and ideas. 

Third, initially, these results really shocked me. They seemed so…different. But then I started reading about them. And, y’all, these are me. Future oriented, chatty, enthusiastic, thirsty for new ideas and intent on remembering them. Throughout, the test emphasizes my love of books and reading.

I really do love books. (Though the test also says I think speed reading is a waste of time because I want to ponder each new idea, which isn’t true by a long shot. But I do process things fast.) 

These results are not as far off from last year as I initially thought. Adaptability and Strategic strengths share a common theme of flexibility – just with the Strategic strength I have learned to pick an option and follow through on it. With Activator I got people excited about projects, now I use Communication to carry through on the whole project, not just the beginning. 

My main purpose in sharing all this stems from a broader theme I’ve learned over this past year. Going into law school, I felt a bit like a fraud. Detail-oriented people are supposed to go to law school. Not big-picture, idea people like me. You go to law school to put things in boxes, not to turn the box upside down and beat on it like a drum. 

Or so I thought. Over the last year, I have learned my talents aren’t that uncommon for the law, and are in fact quite valuable. Where I am weak, I have learned to adapt. And where I am strong, like in communication, I flourish. 

I am waiting for one last grade, but in all but one class so far this semester I’ve gotten an A or A-. You might find that par for course knowing me, but in law school that is hard. But I am learning and I am loving what I learn. It is a bit of a relief to realize that I am not a fraud and 6-year-old me wasn’t crazy when she announced she wanted to be a lawyer.

Moreover, I am good at this. Just saying that makes me feel a little bit crazy, but also happy. I see God’s hand at work around me and I cannot wait to see what comes next.