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.
It was my maiden voyage to London. It was also my first visit to the world-renowned university – London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The LSE Summer School, taught by professors with deep expertise, attracts knowledge seekers over to world. With frequent public lectures, talks and debates by distinguished guests on current issues ranging from globalisation, inequality and poverty, to international relations. It’s motto- to know the causes of things, challenges the mind to never settle for the status quo and encourages breakthrough for the betterment. It nurtured and housed many Nobel prize winners, brilliant policy makers and published revolutionary papers. The credentials of the LSE are unquestionable.
Throughout the past four years of my time as a student of the University of London, I have spent the best part of my summers mulling over reading lists. Don’t you all anticipate the new stationary, new books and new reading lists when exams still seem aeons away? The first day of holidays right after my last exam, I have downloaded the subject guides quite as if on autopilot. It has given me a rush of joy and immense satisfaction to discover in advance what the coming academic year holds for me.
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.
I hope your studies are proceeding well and as expected. As we head toward exams, I’d like to share a few ideas with you.
In a previous post, we briefly discussed a plan of action to start our academic year.
However, that post looked at planning from a long-term perspective and focused on how to begin the study phase; that is, a phase of accumulation and selective storage of information or, borrowing from that very same post, the base of the pyramid.
But, you might ask, are those considerations valid if we had to plan the next two or three hours in a matter of minutes? In other words, can we apply the same logic to the ultimate phase of our annual project, to the top of the pyramid?
If so, how can we plan our time during an examination to make the most of it?
“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.
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