Sunday, October 30, 2016

Two Months of Law School


As of now, I've been a law student for a little over two months. It kind of feels like it has only been two weeks; at the same time, it feels like it's been about two years. Overall, I'm starting to figure out what this whole "law school" thing is actually about, and I'm starting to find my identity as a law student. So I wanted to write this post to summarize for both all of my readers as well as myself what my first two months of law school have been like.

Emotions

First things first, my first two months of law school have been way more emotionally compromising than what I expected. Not only did I have an extremely difficult time with homesickness and moving away from my family, but adjusting can be very emotional in itself. Law school is a big change for most people. It's a change in location, education, and lifestyle - that takes some getting used to.

The first few weeks of law school, I was extremely emotional. More than once, I cried in the library, teared up in class, or had a complete breakdown in the car. I spent all day texting my friends that I missed them. The anxiety was so bad that I lost seven pounds from not eating. But all of that was only temporary. After a few weeks I started to feel like me again. I could make it through days without crying, I called my mom just to talk rather than because I was sad. And I started to feel like myself again.

The point is, the first two months of law school have been an emotional time for me. However, the hard times have only been temporary. While there are still things that make me emotional - I have definitely started to feel normal again.

Classes

Classes have probably been the easiest thing to adjust to in law school. I came to law school straight out of undergrad - meaning that I've been in school for the last sixteen years, so spending my days in the classroom is nothing new. Sure, law school classes are a little bit different - the professors use the Socratic method, the material is a hell of a lot harder, and there are no projects, quizzes, or papers to pad your grade. However, most of us know how to attend a lecture, pay attention, take notes, brief cases, and learn the information. Attending class has probably been the easiest part of transitioning to law school.

That doesn't mean classes aren't difficult - they are! Law school classes are incredibly hard in material, and you will always be afraid of being subjected to being called on at random by your professor. But even so, if you have been a recent student, you will be able to adequately adapt in no time. And with those adaptations will come the grades that you want, and your first assignments will be a breeze!

Social Life

For many people, having a social life might seem like one of their lesser concerns while in law school. But just as maintaining a healthy academic life is important, it's equally as important to maintain a healthy social life while in law school. Having good friends and a quality support system is extremely crucial to maintaining a positive lifestyle while in law school. If you attended a law school close to home, where you went to undergrad, or near family, finding this support system is likely a little easier. If, like me, you moved far away for law school, this is a little more difficult.

Living far away from all of my family and friends makes it a little difficult to lean on them for a support system. Luckily, it's the year 2016 and technology makes it at least a little bit easier. I can have Skype movie nights with my best friend, FaceTime my little sister, and text my friends and family very easily. Whenever possible, both schedule-wise and economically, I can visit home or my friends can visit me, but that's not necessarily enough. Thus, it's important to find friends within your law school community to be a closer support system.

Finding friends near me started with my roommates. I have been lucky enough to find two gorgeous and smart law students to live with, that make even better friends. They have been the most essential part of my support system here. A couple times a week we talk for hours in the living room, about law school, life, and missing home. We go out to dinner or even order food in together - they are great! However, if you live alone or don't have roomies that are quite as great as mine, turn to who you see at school. Is there someone in your classes that you really connect with? Ask them to grab coffee! Looking for a group activity? Join a school club or organization! Need some help navigating this whole "law school" thing? Find out if your school has a mentor program! The common idea here is to put yourself out there, find your people, and love them hard. People need people. 

Budgeting

So I plan on doing an entire post about budgeting in the future, but overall, how to budget in law school has been the biggest adjustment for me. For the last two years of my undergrad, I worked full-time while being in classes. Law schools don't let you work, though, so for the first time in my life I am living off student loans and trying to budget a little bit more. I was lucky enough to get a full-tuition scholarship to my school, but that only covers tuition - not fees, textbooks, rent, food, gas, clothing, etc. Thus, I am living off of the recommended amount my school's financial aid office budgets, which isn't all of that much.

Luckily for me, I consider myself to be pretty financially smart. This means that I am able to pay my rent and bills, buy groceries, and still have money to put into a savings account at the end of the week. It feels weird "saving" money that I now technically owe to the government on my loans, but I want to make sure that if I have a car repair, doctor bill, or other unexpected expense I don't have to go running from my parents. And it's a good habit to start "saving" now so I can practice portioning the money I get for when I eventually have to start paying my loans back.

The point about budgeting here is that it is possible. While not working is a big adjustment for me, it's also really nice to not work and only worry about school. So budgeting is definitely worth it and I recommend anyone who is preparing to attend law school learn a little bit about budgeting before you go.

Overall

When I began law school, I expected to spend my entire 1L year feeling like I am drowning. It hasn't been quite that bad in my experience - I feel like I am treading water. Sure, it's hard and very tiresome, but I'm keeping my head above water. Two months into law school, I've realized that I can do this. It's not going to be easy, parts of it aren't fun, but in the end I am working toward my dream of being a lawyer and I know that I can get there one day.

Less than two months until finals - let the real work begin!


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