U2’s classic song I still haven’t found what I’m looking for is still as relevant as it was when the song originally came out. The sentence captures our relentless pursuit to find the one thing that makes us happy or fulfilled. I am the first to admit that I am still searching. That’s why I have embarked on a long and difficult journey to fulfil my childhood dream, to become a lawyer.
My lawyer friends may say, “oh no, you are crazy”, maybe I am, but this is what I want to do and have wanted for decades. I did start out as a law student back in the 20th century in Hungary, but adventure got in the way and I landed in Canada. I did try to get into law school here, but again adventure got the better part of me and I went to live in Israel. I spent nearly two decades there, having a very challenging but interesting life. I got accepted to law school in Israel too, but life got in the way, I had to leave the program even before I could start.
On the 18th I got my results. While I was very tempted to publish a post a few hours after having checked my results, in the end I decided to wait at least 24 hours to cool off and I am glad I did. My previous post felt a bit like I was bragging, and that was not my aim at all.
Well, here it goes: I have achieved my best grades up until now.
You cannot imagine how this feels to me: “Like victory”. Yes, sure, but it is a little bit more than that. At the beginning of the year I told you my studies had become a way to reconnect with myself. With a part of me getting blurred out by all the new feelings of maternity, my studies became the only thing that did not make me feel like a human pacifier or a teddy bear or just a plain old mattress to sleep on top of.
My, my. What a roller-coaster this year has been, phew! I see myself now in a very different place from the starting point of my journey. Throughout this year I have reconnected with myself, learned one or two new things and basically enjoyed getting lost in books. If you are anything like me, you probably spent the two weeks after your last examination cursing yourself because relevant ideas for your essays kept popping up in your head. We went to Spain to visit relatives and to enjoy the warm weather there (warmer than Luxembourg, at any rate) and I still could not shake off this feeling of having lost the opportunity of getting a better grade.
To get the much-needed closure on this year I canalized my energy and my concern for my studies in an evaluative effort, trying to ascertain how realistic I was in my initial appraisals, how I have adjusted to changes and how everything turned out in the end. I think it is wiser to do this before getting examination results, that way the evaluation is less mediated by the final outcome. You know I am a firm contender for focusing on the process instead of results.
“Law school is no joke.” That’s what a friend of mine said when we last talked about my study program. He wasn’t lying. He’s a professional athlete, a downhill skier. He inspired me to think of note-taking like one of his epic runs to the finish line on a Super-G (super giant slalom) course – a combination of precision, technical expertise, and speed.
You know that expression that tells “you should stop to smell the flowers?” Well, I wish we had flowers now in good old Luxembourg, but it turns out we are covered in snow. So instead, I am smelling the snow and trying to devise a plan for the second half of this course year.
As every year, I had promised myself that I would try to open the books and study a bit through Christmas break, and as every year, I only managed to read five to ten pages of material in the two weeks out of the house. As expats, Christmas break is one of the few opportunities we have to gather with family and spend some time with them. This was The Little One’s first Christmas and everybody wanted to take part in it, so we had to make room for multiple family engagements.
Attending law school has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. Now that I am a law student, every time I sit down to study I tend to react like someone opening a surprise gift from a loved one. It is a wonderful feeling. It helps me keep track of my goals and how I want to use this education. One of my chief goals is learning to think like a lawyer.
I work in nonprofit management with an international NGO. It’s a good match for me. After years of trying I caught on that I really don’t have a corporate soul, so to speak. But I do have a somewhat corporate way of thinking, meaning I like a methodical way of approaching issues and having a plan. It helps to approach things like a lawyer, to apply this particular structure to my critical thinking process.
Two sides to one story
When I wrote my first post I told you that my main concern as a studying mum was making space in my brain for knowledge when the ups and downs with The Little One were barely leaving any space available in said brain. After more than a month of daily study I think it is about time to make an evaluation.
In the past few weeks The Little One was going through the “adaptation period” at daycare. She had to get used to new people, new food, new patterns, new rules… And it was a lot to take. Interestingly, this adaptation period is also designed to help parents in coping with the difficult feelings of leaving their progeny in the care of someone unrelated to the family circle. My mind wandered off easily and I asked myself repeatedly if she would hate me for “abandoning” her like that.
Nobody said that it is going to be easy. Anyone who grows up in a traditional education system would have the idea of pedagogy that naturally conjures up the picture of a classroom of students and a teacher. Nobody said that to acquire a degree through self-studying, without guidance, is going to be smooth sailing. However, no one has said that it is an impossible task either.
I believe that most of us in the UOL long distance program shoulder the same responsibilities: work, family and studies. As if to juggle these is not challenging enough, some of us have also taken the degree course without any additional help: we study without attending any local teaching institutions. A daunting task it is, but, we must not forget the one big perk that is attached to it – flexibility.
Let’s really explore distance learning this week. To my surprise, this is a topic I find myself discussing quite a bit. Every day I find myself in conversations like: “What is distance learning really like? How do we implement it? What kind of results can we expect to see? What kind of measurements are best applied to our particular distance learning program?” I talk about it at work, in social settings, during board meetings and in job interviews. Keep in mind that I do not work in education at all, not even remotely. (No pun intended) Distance Learning is now that important.
Five years ago, if someone had told me that I was going to live in Luxembourg and raise a baby girl while studying English with the UoL International Programmes, I probably would have laughed. Yet here I am: a Spaniard based in Luxembourg studying English and, yes, raising a baby at the same time (six months now and going strong!).
The truth is I studied to become a teacher back in Spain. I got my teaching degree there but life brought me to this little country and, after a while, I decided to enroll in the International Programmes to widen my knowledge in English. Continue reading