Tuesday, 21 September 2010

My First ever Law Textbook!

Late last week I noticed that on the page titled "Information for 2011 Commencing Students", they'd put up the prescribed text and pre-reading, along with suggested readings. I also activated my student email account, alas I have a number, I am not the first with my name in the University system.

Yesterday, I went out and brought the textbook. My boyfriend thinks I am being a major nerd and I should find a hobby. I disagree with aspects of that statement. Yes, I am being a major nerd, but I do have hobbies. I'm also so very excited for next year to start! I am determined to be so uber-prepared and give myself as much chance as possible of excelling. I think this is what they mean by mature-aged students often being much more committed to study.

Tuesday's Breakfast - Porridge with Banana

I realise that I didn't pick a good week to do this. Along with Thursday and Friday being annual leave that I'd planned a month ago, I also called in sick yesterday. So this week is a grand total of... 2 work days. But nevertheless, I shall share what I create anyway.

Ever since I had the Porridge with Caramelised Banana at Auction Rooms in North Melbourne, I'd been hankering for porridge in the morning. So this morning, I decided to start experimenting with caramelising banana at work. Alas I forgot to find something sort of cream or bring walnuts. But I did have porridge and banana.

Now, I know quick oats are not as healthy as the regular oats. Whatever they do to process it, I think it increases the GI of the oats and possibly also lessen the fibre contents. But we're working with an office kitchen with no stove, so one has to make do with what one has.

First thing I did was cut the banana in half, and then sliced length wise. I placed it onto a plate, sprinkled with a sachet of sugar (but just one!) and decided to try the microwave over the sandwich press first. My rationale was that if it works in the microwave, it'd mean a lot less clean up. The microwave in the kitchen area is a bit dodgy and doesn't spin properly sometimes (next time I think I'll use the microwave in the office instead). So after about 30 seconds, I ended up with one mushy cooked banana and one... not so much. I flipped the one that wasn't over cooked, re-position the plate to make sure it spins this time and heated for another 10 seconds.

The result was... well, the banana tasted like cooked banana, but looked like play-doh. I'd also didn't put enough water into the porridge (no milk for me, trying to cut lactose in an effort to work out what is causing my allergies) and had pause the cooking to add more in. Improvements can definitely be made. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Simple Meals at Work Showcase Week

I've been struggling lately with healthy breakfast, lunches and snacks. Only lately have I managed to string together some light, healthy meals for myself at work. So to motivate myself to stay on track this week, I'm going to showcase some of the meals I come up with, using simple ingredients that's easy to buy and store at work.

So watch this space!

Friday, 17 September 2010

What to expect in Law School?

After the initial excitement and surprise at being accepted (even though I spent hours preparing my applications and for the lsat, I still expected more hurdles), I started thinking about what it will be like.

Classes. Lectures. Homework. Although it is a postgraduate degree, the average or median age is young. Many of the students would be entering straight from an undergraduate course. Will I be able to keep up? I did a Computer Science degree, I've never written a real, significant essay in my life. I am not sure if my brain will cope with essays and case briefs. I worry a little about fitting in, I will be 27 when the course starts, but I console myself with the fact that I look young. Maybe not 21 young, but I don't think that I will stand out too much. Right? Right?

Actually what I worry about isn't so much the age thing, but the culture thing. Law students, have a reputation for being competitive, self-centred elitists, especially those at the highly regarded universities. Certainly, some of the forums and responses to threads I've found on the internet does nothing to dispel those notions. The obsession some have with the Big 4 law firms... There seems to be trouble in some quarters with comprehending that some people are not in it for the money, and have absolutely no interest in doing the law practised by those firms. Definitely, I will be going into next year with the mindset that I am on my own.

I've been obsessing with note-taking methods and strategies. Should I type or handwrite? This wasn't a question back in my Uni days, as having a laptop was still relatively unusual. Computer Science involved a fair bit of diagramming and the computer labs were never far away. But the biggest factor was the fact that we had the lecture notes/slides as a book for most of the subjects, so writing notes by hand in it was just the logical thing.

LSAT Score

Receiving the LSAT score was a little anti-climatic. I didn't even notice the email in my inbox at first. I'd gotten into work, opened my gmail, clicked something else, looked at some other emails... then I noticed the one from LSAC. So I got my score, and my reaction was "Yes, I got my score. I didn't completely screw it up and I got what I'd been getting during the practices!" Then it was, "Is it enough???"

Getting the score does not really change anything. Much like, I guess, getting your ENTER score at the end of Year 12. You have a number, but you still have no real idea where it will take you, only whether you're still on track or not. Maybe.

It is that envelope from the University that really gets your heart pumping and hands shaking.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Epic LSAT Marathon

I had months to prepare for the LSAT. But still June 27th sneaked up on me. The night before, I was still trying to study until my boyfriend made me put down the notes. Of course I didn't sleep well. June in Melbourne is a cold and miserable time. Nor did it get off to a good start when it took them an hour from the publish start time to actually get everyone seated. However, I was heartened by the girl who forgot about the LSAT, went out drinking and consequently arrived that morning with a hangover.

What is most painful about the LSAT isn't the examination itself, it is the amount of time spent setting up and checking names and IDs and registration. And the long list of rules to go through, including why mechanical pencils are not allowed. This did not stop one of the supervisors from standing by my little desk and clicking his pen. Click-click-click-click-click, right next to me. Well, I wasn't going to stand for that, and the fact that he was ancient did not stop me from telling him off. And why are these exam supervisors always old pensioners anyway?

There's a short break after 3 sections. To be honest, the amount of time spent getting ready and returning from the short break, was not worth the break itself. I would have preferred to have just kept powering through the questions. There were 2 games section in the first 3 sections, so the break, and the queue to the bathroom, was filled with chatter what how incomprehensible they were. One guy said he felt like stabbing himself in the eye when he was doing those questions. I have a feeling these are not the comments that one would overhear during the break at an American test centre.

After the break, which served no real purpose except to extend the time we have to spend there and cool our body temperature down even more, we went back for more waiting, checking, double-checking. And half-way through the second half of the day... I really needed to go to the bathroom. But I did not want to waste time getting up, precious reading and answering time, so I ignored my bladder and continued. In such a highly timed test, where the average time spend per question is a little more than a minute, a few minutes off is a few questions missed. Words cannot described how relieved I was when they finally collected all the exams at around 4:30pm and I was finally let out of that hall! Epic-est test ever!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Application Process

So I had set my sights on Melbourne University's Juris Doctor program. But of course it was not so easy. As it says on the website, admission is based on three items: GPA, LSAT score and Personal Statement.

I was concerned that my GPA, whilst good, is not exactly going to knock anyone over. And the LSAT. I picked the only law school in Australia that will test me before I even get it. I actually believe this worked in my favour, as it was a test result that I can study for, and demonstrate that I will be a good candidate. Another thing in my favour is the fact that I graduated in 2004. Hopefully the intervening years of work and travel experience will make up for the slightly weak GPA. 2 out of the 3 criteria was within my control. My GPA may not wow them, but I certainly could try to wow them with my Statement and LSAT.

All this is on the website, nonetheless, I went along to an information session. It was an... interesting experience. Two particular individuals stick in my mind. The man who was obsessed with the acting and theatrics components (Someone has been watching too much Law and Order) and persistently asked questions about it, and the woman who didn't do enough research to learn that it was a full-time degree and left in a huff when she realised.

And I did learn a few new things that wasn't available on the website. I was able see for myself, how many other people were interested enough to go to the session. I found out exactly how many spots were available. Answer? Not many. This was made worse that the year I want to start, 2011, would also be the year the the first year to include the undergrads from Melbourne Uni who couldn't apply for an undergrad law degree. They compensated by increasing the number of places... by 50?

But the most valuable piece of information was hearing what the admissions team wanted to learn about their applicants. I may have already started looking at the LSAT and drafting a statement by the time I went to that information session, but it gave me direction and the work I put into my application became more focussed.

I started researching LSAT scores (annoyingly for applicants, Melbourne Uni won't release what the average LSAT score is) and reading examples of good personal statements. I brought books. I got my friends, from different areas and walk of life, to read my statement. I did almost every practice LSAT exam I could find. And I was grateful to not being doing it in the USA. The competition is so fierce there, applicants go to prep school to learn how to do the LSAT and 6 months of preparation is recommended. This was a good thing, as it meant that the expectations are lower here. And to be honest? Those LSAT questions are kind of fun, almost like doing trivia or puzzles.

The Start of The Journey

Early this year, after a series of particularly bad time at work, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and do something. I was tired of the brain-dead work, of handling requests from users who feel I was there to do their bidding and trying to explain the difference between a Google search box and and the address bar, or why changing the password of one login doesn't affect their other logins to other systems, or how to read the screen for instructions on how to change said password. Honestly, it was just a waste of my talents. There, I said it. I believe I am too smart for what I am doing.

How did I even end up here? In the intervening years between high school and now, I'd stopped challenging myself, stopped doing things I believed in and was, plainly, in a major rut. Again. This time, I couldn't very well jet off overseas for another year. While I had an absolute blast, and came back a happier person, I was really not in a better position. In fact, it can be argued that I was worse off, because I'd been away for the workforce for a year.

No, the change had to be bigger. It had involve ideas that I am passionate about. I knew it was going to involve returning to Uni for postgrad studies. But what? What will enable me to work in a field that I believe in? It took a long time, but I found something in the end.

So what did I decide to do instead? I decided I had to study Law. Of course. And what did I decide was the best law course for me? Melbourne University of course. Despite strong arguments for Monash, it is highly ranked. And most conveniently located to my parents' home. I may stay there the whole time, or I may move out, but how close to free feed and clean laundry is important.

And that, is how I started this journey.