Hi NorthEast_1L -
Everyone has a different experience, but I'll be truthful with you. There are some things I like about Syracuse, some I do not. I really enjoyed my first semester. I had great professors and learned a lot. That semester I got sick and had to be hospitalzied (long story) and the professors and dean of students were absolutely great about it and SO helpful for the classes I missed. The second semester, I did not have as positive an experience. The professor my section had were terrible. However, this was just the luck of the draw. As at every school, there are some good ones and some bad ones. Also, I found the 2l's and 3l's very helpful and willing to give outlines and advice about profs which I found useful. The other thing I might mention is that our class is known as the class of "overacheivers" that for some reason compared to the 2L's and 3L's and past classes we had more students applying to things (ie. journals, moot court, jobs).. which created tougher competitoin among ourselves. I suspect that your class will even be more competitive among each other which can only help in the rankings... but that's just a humble soon to be 2L's opinion.
As far as the IR joint program, it is pretty flexible with the law school as it is the program that most joint masters students do. I already have a masters degree, so I don't know much about it because I was not interested, but I do know I have some friends who are doing it. They had to take classes such as Professional REsponsibility this summer to fit in some masters classes next year.. but overall I hear it's pretty doable and being at the law school helps with admission. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.