First year done: Lessons learned
My first year is finally over and I’m currently sat behind my laptop wondering where all the time flew to. It’s been an amazing year packed with a fair share of struggles, so, I think it’s safe to say that valuable lessons were learned. Here are a few of them:
Good friends will come by: At university, especially in first year, most of us are desperate to make new friends so that we are not lonely or, at the very least, so that we have someone to sit with in lectures. The truth is that some people will meet their best friends very early into the year and others will when the year is half gone or even almost over. I’ve always believed that friendship is an integral part of the university experience because you need people to help you with the challenge of law school. It is extremely important to take your time to find the right group of friends and not to make the mistake of joining a group and then limiting your chances of connecting with other students. Don’t worry if you do not make real friends early, it is almost a natural process and the best friendships certainly don’t happen when you plan for it or intend for it to be so. Most importantly, university is a diverse community, you never stop meeting people and you could meet your very best friend a few months before graduation.
Law is whatever you make of it: Of course, law is not an easy course. In fact, no course is particularly easy. However, at the same time, I’ve learned that if you take the time to do the required reading and put in the necessary effort, success becomes a natural consequence. Law as a course is indeed challenging but I have found that for all the times I tried my very best in an exam or essay, I was greatly rewarded for my efforts. If you decide that you will enjoy the course, trust me you will. My favourite thing to do in these past few weeks has been to read success stories on LinkedIn of students graduating with a First-Class Honours in Law. It reassures you that hard work does pay off and everything is doable. In addition to friendship explained above, there are opportunities to try out new activities, to grow your network, volunteer, travel and an easier access to job opportunities. University is a safe bubble and once the three or four years is gone, that safe space vanishes and you find yourself with less opportunities to make mistakes. It is in your power to use these opportunities and make the best out of your years.
Time waits for no man: Ever come across this saying? In case you haven’t, I can assure you that time will literally pass you by before you can think about it. Whatever you want to accomplish during your first year or any year, take the initiative to do it. It’s weird because everyone told me that my first year will go by fast but I never believed it until it was a few days before my final exams. The essential point is that you will be left behind if you don’t spend your time wisely.
University is a lesson in itself: At the end of one of my exams, the head lecturer of the module sent out an email and here’s my favourite part: ‘I urge you to remember that, whilst your future career is important, please never lose sight of the fact that you have three or four years as an undergraduate, and these precious years, during which you have total freedom to explore whatever you want, will never happen again. Make the most of them!’ This is closely related to one of the points above but I believe that the important message is that you should cherish your university years and consider every single experience a lesson to learn something from.
Fake it until you make it: Finally, there will be so many times when you would start doubting yourself, there will be enough challenges for you to question your ability and potential. I learned that everything starts from within, when you pretend and envisage that you’ve done well in an exam, your actions follow through and you do all you can to make that vision a reality. In producing my essays, while revising for my exams, and in completing applications, I learned to believe that I was already successful and this perspective helped me to achieve much more than I would have if I didn’t have any vision. The bottom line is that law school can be difficult but you can program your brain to make it an easier process.