After a behemoth of hard work, stress, and anxiety, my first semester of law school finally arrived. This was my first time moving from my city. My excitement for law school was preceded by mountains of moving boxes, last-minute adventures, and tender goodbyes.
I sometimes deal with stress a bit robotically. I create endless to-do lists and map out each day on my calendar. Every item I check off equates to a little more control at the helm of my vessel. My targets are always moving but I somehow get to where I need to be. That was how my mind treated law school in the final weeks leading up to my departure: Uhaul, Ikea, boxes…check, check, check. Though my excitement prior had been colossal, my anxiety started to bubble. Candles, pillowcases, cutlery… check, check, check. The more I could focus on finishing menial tasks, the more my nerves stayed at bay.
Eventually, everything was packed. My calendar told me when to leave and my feet trekked me out the door.
The nice thing about moving is that it is parallel. You move out of somewhere and have to then move in somewhere else. Though I was lucky enough to have friends help move my furniture a week prior as a pit stop on a road trip, I still had a myriad of boxes to move in. I waited until the last possible day to depart from my beautiful city, and then spent the rest of the time until school began emptying the contents of my life.
Despite my distraction attempts the morning of my first day was intimidating. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know my way around the campus, not to mention the city. I stumbled my way through picking up my welcome package, blinded by the flash of my headshot and sweating under my mask. Though everything was overwhelmingly new, it was also overwhelmingly familiar. I was quickly reminded of the first day of my undergrad: warmth, friendliness, and eagerness. No one was from Kamloops. No one knew each other. I made connections that day with people who I now feel privileged to call close friends.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make friends. In high school, I often felt misunderstood. Starting my undergrad I was relieved to find more people I related to. Law school felt like undergrad, but on steroids. And this city girl discovered there was something magical about a small, far away town. You build family.
There were many activities the first week, from orientation to the welcome olympics, classes, and parties. It was exhausting in the best way possible.
There were also moments of loneliness. But my excitement quickly outweighed them.
People are not kidding when they say law school is a lot of work. I was enrolled in 6 classes: Constitutional law, Property law, Tort law, Contract law, Criminal Law, and Law and Administrative Policy. It is a completely new way of learning and it took some adjustment. The best comparison I have heard is to learning a new language. At first, it was a lot of new content, concepts, and ideas. However, you are fully immersed, like moving to Italy to learn Italian.
Almost all of my learning is case-based. Each case reveals a new rule. Exams require evaluating how these rules can apply to a situation. Are the events distinguishable from the existing cases? Why or why not? Analysis has become my best friend.
Despite it being a lot of change, I felt ready for it. During the year prior, I had been getting up at 5am to study for the LSAT before work, working for 8-9 hours, and hopefully working out during my lunch break, followed by more studying after dinner. I was also volunteering and taking law courses to add a Certificate in Law from Queen’s University to my law school applications. It was intense. But I knew what I wanted and was ready to do whatever it took. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was great preparation for my year ahead. In some ways, law school has been significantly easier. I still do a little bit of marketing consulting, but I really only have one main focus: school. I have time to have a social life and I don’t have to wake up at 5am every day to accomplish what I need to do. I don’t have the same intense pressure hanging over me, I’ve made it.
I don’t want to derogate from the difficulty of law school. It requires dense information that can take a while to fully process and understand. It is nuanced. There are mountains of readings and analysis is truly an art. I depend on stress management tools and healthy habits such as working out and restorative yoga. It is a ton of hard work! But I love it. However, I am so happy and grateful to be here that sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work at all. I feel unequivocally privileged.