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Musing of a First Year Law Student

Going into law school, one honestly does not know what to expect. Hearing so many horror stories of what awaited me, no doubt there was some form of apprehension and trepidation. I had so many questions -- what if I realised law isn’t something I was cut out for or I wouldn’t be able to make new friends online?

A semester later, it’s safe to say that law school has exceeded all of my wildest expectations-- both good and bad. In hindsight, it’s almost amusing to see how all my energy and enthusiasm progressed downhill after the first few weeks. I was able to consistently stay ahead of everything-- the lecture slides, the assigned reading material and the tutorials. More importantly, it felt like I still managed to carve out a decent amount of time for myself to do the things I enjoyed outside of school, and I (very naively) wondered what all the fuss over law school was really about. As with all things, the novelty wore off as soon as assignment season began to properly set in. Things were no longer as exciting anymore, and I started to feel bogged down with all the work that was piling up. As an A-Levels student, learning was really something of a one-man show up till that point. Needless to say, the transition from college to university was an especially drastic one for me.

It’s true that to some extent, group assignments place somewhat less of a burden since we can delegate tasks between members and focus on it. Nonetheless, I’ve quickly realised that working in groups can present its own set of challenges as well. For better or worse, working alone means you only answer to yourself, but a group discussion has to accommodate several different voices and opinions. Having said that, with such a large chunk of my academic life revolving around communicating with others, I've definitely learnt a lot more about myself than I ever cared to. You learn about the idiosyncrasies of others, that is definitely true, but I think more importantly you learn more about your own shortcomings as well. Human interaction is a delicate thing, and the occasional bumping of heads is no doubt inevitable, especially when everyone is tensed up from all the academic stress. Nonetheless, I’ve realised that these experiences are the best opportunities to not just improve myself as a team member but also as a person, and isn’t that what school is all about?

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t lament the loss of an actual campus experience to some extent -- attending your orientation via Zoom and meeting your new classmates through a screen will never beat the experience of starting a new chapter of your life and meeting everyone in real life. It’s much harder to form meaningful connections with the people around you when you can’t even feel their presence, and it’s nearly impossible to put names to faces when you barely know what most of your classmates look like. Despite all my initial fears, in the end I was still fortunate enough to be able to make new friends . True, it may be difficult to initiate the first step but I still managed to build a sense of camaraderie with people I’ve never even met. Perhaps it was everyone making the best out of a less-than-ideal situation, but as we slowly transition into physical classes again I’m still somewhat grateful for this unconventional beginning to my university life.

At the peak of assignment season, I found myself especially struggling to cope with all the lectures, tutorials, assignments and personal commitments. The whole juggling act left me feeling drained and somewhat irritable, and I quickly realised this couldn’t be a sustainable way forward. If anything, I’ve acknowledged the importance of listening to my body, because it would really have been humanly impossible to power through everything with zero regard for my own wellbeing. Once that was settled, I just had to learn how to prioritise tasks, adhere to the deadlines that I’ve set out for myself and really, just get on with it. At some point I realised that rather than just feeling overwhelmed, it’s better to just start on the tasks and remember that as chaotic as it may get, things will settle down and you’ll get used to it anyway. I think that my biggest takeaway would be this: law school is definitely going to get rough sometimes, but you can always try and make things easier for yourself. In its own twisted way, I am glad that I struggled a little during this period of time. It was a reminder that things won’t always be smooth-sailing, but more importantly, it doesn’t need to always stay that way.

All in all, law school has definitely been nothing short of hectic and I believe it’s safe to assume that there is only more to come. But really, sometimes it does feel like a good thing. As chaotic as things may get, it has undoubtedly brought a greater sense of purpose in my life and I’m grateful to have something to work towards every single day. My journey may not be the same as yours but I guess as cliche as this sounds, sometimes it may be better to take things as they come and enjoy the process. Perhaps this is verging on romanticising things, but I am genuinely curious to find out what the future has in store for me and I look forward to the challenges ahead.

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