Blackout Period.

Well, I have come through the great blackout period of December 2011 relatively unscathed. Our class encountered our first ever law school exams and it was a mixed result. As we get our grades back, that statement takes on a whole new meaning. This blog will be a mixture itself (first I will respond to the few of you that have asked me questions—particularly about a part-time job and then I will review December).

To get started, I must say that all of the things you may or may not do in law school completely depend upon the person. I think the key to doing well and having the rumoured ‘work-life balance’ is priorities. Naturally, those will differ from person to person. Theoretically, you can do whatever you want. However, I would place two limitations on that. Firstly, no matter what, you cannot do everything and secondly, attention in one place will almost always mean something is neglected.

I myself do not have a part-time job. Extra money would be great but personally I felt like it would take up too much time that could be put to better use. Just to give you context, I held a job for the last three years of my undergrad working 12 hours a week. I felt pretty relaxed and not stressed about that workload. The transit system went on strike and I had to walk to work and school every day and I still felt less stressed. People are different though!

I do know some people who have a part-time job, although I have to say I do not know them as well as other classmates. Often it is those people running to the library right after class or immediately home after school (often, I am running with them but NOT always). From what I have seen, there appears to be a trade-off. Law school can simply be about class but as my blog has mentioned, there is a support network and a great culture at UBC. I’m glad that I am not forced to miss out on any of it. There are clubs, volunteering opportunities and extra-curricular activities (even this blog) that could potentially disappear if a job forced me to lose significant hours of studying.

Yet for those of you who REALLY need the extra cash flow, take heart friends because some people have jobs on campus for a really limited time per week or even month and they manage a lot better.

I would say this though, whatever time you are spending at work, something is not being done. If you are the type of person who doesn’t mind skipping a reading or two (or even all of them) or not getting an extra opportunity to edit your final paper, then maybe you could handle a job. Perhaps you will barter the few hours of rest you might have per day for the extra money. Just remember that come December, it will all add up.


Ask if your employer is able to accommodate you during exams or at the very least reduce your hours.

This part of the blog now turns to the Blackout period of my life: Dec ’11. There was a really unfortunate slum found in Vancouver during that month: my house. I do not think I cleaned my apartment once in the 3 weeks of exams; I stopped cooking regularly; exercising was laughable; stress was peaking and all of this for exams that can only help and not hurt my final grade. I am thinking about hiring a live-in nanny for myself and my cats for April (heavy sarcasm intended).  With only one exam remaining, all I could think about was the finish line, and just handing it that paper and walking out into freedom. For some people, that freedom literally did not come for DAYS after the exam as they suffered through some sort of post-traumatic stress. The one thing that got me through those awful days was the pack-mentality wherein we were all together…on a sinking ship…the Titanic…with no lifeboats. Honestly, my peers helped me through it and hopefully they feel the same way. I cannot say enough about the UBC support system. Go fellow first years! Now that we know what to expect, it can only get easier…right?

Of coursem like I said above, every one is different and some people appeared unbothered by the exams. Most of the people I encountered did not fall into that category (neither did I).

As a brief side note for those of you who asked about a part-time job, I most certainly would have quit or started crying hysterically at it during this month. I honestly believe my results would be significantly lower if I’d bartered time with a job during December. A further note: I mentioned this question to a fellow classmate whose response was heavy laughter.

Yet, after December I feel a lot more confident about law school this semester. Those exams helped me realize what worked and did not work in terms of studying for finals and also showed me what still needs improvement. My predictions on my exams weren’t accurate and many people had their highest mark on exams they were certain they had either failed or bombed horribly. You start to realize that you just never know until you get the marks back.

I can’t say I’m fully refreshed and ready to tackle the new semester yet (still feel a bit shell-shocked) but improvement happens every day.  There is a wine and cheese coming up and I am excited to get out there (possibly an upcoming blog post?) and start looking to the future—beyond April. If December was a blackout period, I imagine April as the Shadow of Doom. If you have any questions or wish for further elaborations, as always feel free to comment.

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