Fresher Madness – Time to Take Stock by @RoadToAdvocacy

By Sion Evan, StretLaw Associate

I want to write a blog. I want it to be dramatic, fiery and different to all other law student blogs. But what do I write about? Finally, two weeks after finishing my first year of university, I am sitting on a train back to my home town of good ol’ Chippenham, so here it is…

As clichéd as it sounds, I have decided to write a blog based on my experiences as a first year law student. Simple enough? Apparently not, attempting to fit a whole years worth of learning, fun and excitement into one blog is hard enough, never mind the man opposite me snoring on the train. A distraction? Not really, and the noise not indifferent to some heard whilst in the law library…

I was terrified to start University; I had been completely confident and looking forward to being an independent student and living the true student lifestyle. But when I looked at UCAS and ‘Accepted’ popped up on my screen, I panicked, like really panicked.

The chorus of ‘Your dad would have been so proud’ didn’t mask the fact that I was bricking it about pretty much everything the university experience had to offer. Looking back on it now, I was a true idiot. This year has been the best year of my life, it has given me more than I ever could have expected and I know I now look back on that terrified 18 year old and think ‘why did I ever feel like that?’

The first few weeks of the year were hectic; fresher’s fare, nights out and introduction lectures, it was a whole load of information to take in, never mind a hit on both my liver and my bank balance. But after a few weeks it does settle down, and it became a lot more chilled; with reading until 9 and then to the pub on the corner for a pint or two with other law students attempting to justify the drinking because we’ve been reading for 4 hours and prepping for the next days seminars.

After settling down at university the work truly started to mount up before Christmas. 5 pieces of coursework as well as public speaking assessments became 90% of my time outside of lectures. The other 10% consisted of eating and numerous trips to the local supermarket for fresh air and cans of red bull. It wasn’t an easy time, but after a week or two, managing my time became a lot easier and my work ethic increased. I found myself becoming a whole lot more efficient than I had been previously, and particularly after the Christmas break my desire to get things done became overpowering and I found myself enjoying, of all things, public law coursework (don’t laugh 😉 ).

Despite my increase in enjoyment for studying, my motivation at rowing-training, which I had previously attended religiously, had begun to dwindle and I found myself too tired to make the sessions and then when I did go I would feel too exhausted to train to the best of my ability. I know that next year this will be different, I will make sure that I find time for myself as well as studying, which would be a piece of advice I’d give to anyone reading law.

After Christmas everything got back on track relatively quickly and despite my lack of effort for some subjects I quickly got back into the swing of things. During the relatively quiet months of February and March I began to think about what else I could do outside of my study. What would boost by CV and interest me at the same time? I started looking at different avenues and having used twitter in the past I thought ‘how many law-student specific twitter accounts are there?’ and as it turns out not a lot. Most are mixed. So I went ahead and created one. And I must say dear reader that this was the best decision I had made in my first year of university.

I began by tweeting once or twice a day just about any kind of law issues or just as I was sitting and waiting for lectures and after a week or so had gained around 50 followers. I approached the head of Law School and asking for some sort of promotion of my account in terms of flyers and posters, and she loved the idea. My ‘law-only’ twitter account then became a lot more active and after a month or so accrued a further 100 followers, mostly during exam period. Hashtag time: #Initiative 🙂

From this experience I have found myself looking further into legal issues and thinking a whole lot more about my university experience. I’ve also been approached by different people asking for advice, specifically to give input to Finch and Fafinski’s new website and exam-success book. And the very people who operate this site, StretLaw Ltd, invited me to apply for the role as a StretLaw Associate. After StretLaw considering my CV and covering letter then a telephone interview, they formally offered me the role! Very happy! This will enable me to gain valuable legal work experience, among other things.

So, exams have now finished and I would rather not talk too much about them – I’m looking at a 2:1 so I am feeling pretty good about that! They weren’t easy but my biggest tip to any law student about exams is that planning is absolutely essential, it needs to be the most important part of your degree. But you’re a law student, I’m sure you already knew that 😉

So readers this has been my story, and with the never ending summer ahead I bid you farewell and have a cracking summer!

I’ll be writing my next blog on revision tips, do’s & don’t’s of university, so stay tuned. It’s going to be another mad year ahead! TTFN 🙂

© Sion Evans, 2013

Follow me on Twitter @RoadToAdvocacy

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