Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore. The difference between mid-September, when there were organized social events abound and light(-ish) reading, and early November, having just finished our first exam and with 250+ pages of reading a week, is pretty striking. That is not to say that it is unmanageable, but let’s just say that my weekends aren’t necessarily my own anymore.
Schoolwork isn’t by any means all there is to being in law. During September, we were bombarded with different clubs, teams, and organizations that we could join. I am certain that every student could find at least three things that pique their interest among the multitude of activities offered, and that is without even looking past the UBC Law community to the UBC campus as a whole. This was completely overwhelming, and I have to say that I’m pretty glad I went into it with a strategy – allow me to elaborate.
Everyone in law school has a drive to be successful; if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. The problem is that this passion can sometimes get the best of us and result in overcommitment. As one of my friends likes to say, “if you want something done, ask a busy person”; while this may be true, there is also a point where said busy person has a miniature nervous breakdown, climbs into bed, and watches every season of Mad Men available on Netflix. I came to law school knowing that there would be a lot of ways to get involved, and that I would tempted to take on more than I could probably handle. In order to try and prevent the aforementioned Netflix coma-like state, I decided to limit myself to a sport and two other activities.
Here are some of the strategies I used to grapple with the choices:
1) Research beforehand: this doesn’t have to be anything lengthy by any means, but take the time to look up a few of the clubs online and start thinking about which ones interest you. When you get to school you can then attend the club days, and if your opinion changes that’s completely fine, but it might help you to zero in on how you would most like to spend your time.
2) Join a sport: exercise can easily fall by the wayside when you’re busy, so joining a sport will not only be a great way to meet your classmates, it’s a fun way to make sure you’re getting in at least one workout a week. There may be days where you don’t want to make it out, but the mental break is important and the endorphins don’t hurt either.
3) Know what you want from your experience: think about what you liked and didn’t like in your undergrad, as well as what kind of work habits you aim to have in law school. For example, I know that while I am way happier when I am involved in university life beyond the scope of classes, I also really dislike feeling like there is no way that I am going to get everything done. I am not a last minute person, nor will I ever be, so I needed to make sure I would have enough free time to not be rushing before class all the time.
These are by no means must-follow rules (I am no Joel Bakan writing the Oakes test – incoming students, you’ll understand this somewhat feeble attempt at a law-related joke in September of your first year), but they might help you feel your way through the process a little bit and hopefully prevent you from feeling like you simply cannot narrow down your options. And remember – everyone can handle different amounts of work. If you are someone who loves being busy, don’t be afraid to try out everything that interests you; if it proves to be too much, you can always drop the ones you aren’t as passionate about.