ad astra per alia porci

Law school – the first four weeks
September 7, 2007, 8:34 am
Filed under: diary


I am in my fourth week in law school and I have not posted something substantial here for quite a while already. School work is piling up; this largely explains the lack of new posts on this blog in the past month. Hence here I am writing something; I feel the need to write down some general observations of school life.

1) The competition here is real.

People are generally motivated and they put in the effort and hours to keep up with the syllabus and study. I am always amazed by how some people can rattle off case names and case details off the top of their heads while lesser beings like me have to flip casebooks to refer to cases.

Most of the people here are either from RJC, HCJC or VJC. Even if they are not from the big three, they come to NUS Law with at least some pedigree. Most of the students are smart and have the grades to back it up. Add the factor of hard work and motivation (and some clearly have spades of both) and this makes it even harder to excel here (for me at least).

2) Professional training

Legal education here is a mix of the vocational and the theoretical. I have lessons that makes me practise the actual skills a practising lawyer would use and lessons that are much more abstract. Teachers act in a business-like manner; they are professional and we are expected to be professional. Preparations for lessons are expected and some teachers are pretty demanding.

3) Legal thinking

I am currently trying to adapt to the peculiar way that a lawyer should think. Law as a subject requires a very different way of thinking and reasoning from say, General Paper or History. There is much less room for “fluff” and undisciplined reasoning and writing.

4) I am not hardworking enough.

It’s a fact. I am not working hard enough. I have lost much of the ability and motivation to study. I am not putting in enough effort into my legal studies and I do feel guilty because of that. It doesn’t help that I am still unable to get the hang of the subject.

5) Social life

I don’t have a social life. This is sad, considering that most people in law are busy making friends and hanging out. It doesn’t help that I am a rather quiet person and I lack charisma. I do feel the pressure to go out, have fun and party or club. However I able to resist peer pressure.

My obligations requires me to sacrifice my social life and abstain from “time-wasting” activities. My social standing and family situation do not allow me many of the luxuries of school life.

Many people in law school are rich and well-to-do; I see many students driving expensive cars to school. No one in my family owns a car. I do worry about the future financial situation of my family.

I am the eldest son and one of only two grandchildren in my family; I have to be able to support many of my elders with my job when I graduate. I can’t afford to have bad grades in university. I have to take every possible measure to ensure that I will be able to earn enough when I go into the working world and one of the best ways is to have good grades and earn a good degree.

University education is expensive and I have to reduce the burden on my parents. They are not rich and they have to save for their retirement. I chose not to buy and use a laptop because I feel that I can make do without one and I need to save the cash. I am currently on scholarship and I have to maintain my grades for me to keep my scholarship. I cannot afford to lose my scholarship. I just can’t.

Hence I have to forgo many things in the course of my law school life. In both the pecuniary and metaphorical sense, I can’t afford to party. I can’t afford to date any girl or embark upon a relationship; I don’t have the luxury of time and effort to do so. Not that anyone would find me to be date-able; I am too boring and caught up with the burdens of living to have a sunny enough perspective on life. I am not rich enough too. I can’t afford to sip coffee in the cafe while the world goes by. Not till I have to a large measure secured my future. This is just the way things are and I am neither grateful nor unhappy about my fate. But I must say that I sometimes get the niggling feeling that my life is not lived to its fullest.


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