Sunday, October 7, 2012

Should I type the notes? or Write it?

So I had about three hours of official lectures last week.  Somehow at Cambridge each week starts on Thursday?  Yup.. not Sunday or Monday... but Thursday.  Yes... I raised my eyebrow.  But a wise man keeps telling me "resistance is futile..." so I accept it and don't question it.

The first lecture was on Land Law.  5 past the hour, the lecturer starts to lecture (obviously) and you could hear about 200 people madly typing away.  It was weird.  I guess it's because I haven't sit in a lecture with this many students for a long long time.  My last time there were this many students in one room was... 1996?? And way back then, no one had a laptop in a class.  Unfortunately, I was one of them but I couldn't not type everything like some of these kids.  They must be machine.  I wonder if they are actually digesting the material at all or typing the lecture word by word.

Last Saturday, I attended an introductory lecture on "Studying Law", where the professor suggested hand writing the notes instead of typing.  So I think I may try that tomorrow?  But then I will want a set of typed notes eventually.  But I just can't type everything.  What to do what to do.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Still haven't found my routine

I got up at a decent time today.  Maybe quarter past 5?  But then I was dead by the time I got back from my second supervision from walking so much.

Who knew that going to a fancy school like Cambridge would require so much walking?  Well, I actually didn't expect anything although I was warned that I would need a bike.

So I got a bike, and because I am not very good with speed and also I haven't ridden a bike for like 25 years or so, I got a bike with smaller wheels, a folding bike.  The problem with that is that I am going much slower than other people - so big wheeled people want to pass me AND it requires me to pedal a lot harder.  Geez.. that kinda defeats the purpose of having a bike, doesn't it?  I wanted to get around easier not harder.  So now what my bike does is... it allows me to go to places slightly faster but not with less efforts.  And since I am not very good at riding it yet, I feel like I am a danger to myself ADN to the Cambridge society.  Hmm... maybe I should get up early on the weekends and practice riding.

I had two supervisions one at Trinity and one at Robinson (and both are really really far) and I kinda started to get what they are for.  It is really an odd system if you think about it.  I don't think I got this much supervision / care even from high schools (and I attended three in two different countries).

I am going to have lots of reading.  Too much for my little printer - which is being delivered tomorrow to handle I think.  Will I be able to read it all?  And keep it in my brain?  I guess we just have to find out soon.

Oh yeah, I meant to talk about how I don't have my routine.  Many things that I do involve internet.  For some reason, maybe HH is a bit away from the main campus or it is just a smaller college, I'm just not getting a good school wifi.  I am used to 20M download, which is not actually that great in some sense.  Ok it doesn't have to be that fast but at least be stable?  Is that too much to ask in this day and age?  Argh... I am expecting that I should be able to watch Netflix or iPlayer online (well actually I should) but at least if I am emailing and surfing for course books, it should stay on-line?  Is that too much to ask?

Anyways, I am spending much time trying to figure out how to store files, where to store files, etc.  Should I buy kindle books when available?  Should I read cases on iPad?  Should I just print everything?

Another thing is that now I only have an access to Mac (yeah school has PCs) and getting things done on MS Office suite on Mac is not always the best.

Ok, enough of whinging.


[photo: I need more comfortable shows than these]

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's been a week

Well almost a week.

I moved in the dorm last Tuesday and it's Monday evening so... it's been almost a week.

So much has happened.  It feels like I have been here for a long time even I spent two out of six nights in London.

First of all, there was no heat from September 25 to September 30.  It was FREEZING.  At least I had a thick duvet from Ikea which I was so thankful for but it seemed like some other people kept waking up in the middle of the night because it was so cold.

So today is the first day with heat.  I was worried that they will be stingy with heat but so far it seems that the small radiator can heat up quite nicely.  It almost feels like I have a space heater under my desk.  Yes.. toasty.. so nice...

To quickly summarize what took place since September 25 -

September 25 - it was a registration day.  Most of LLM and BA aff Law students had to register (I think.  I think the BA Law registered some other day).  And I got my room assigned.  It has a nice view of the garden and has an ensuite bathroom.  You know what, I did not expect anything so this is not bad.  There also was Welcome Tea which was a good opportunity to meet a few people.

September 26 - Went to look for a bike with one of the floormates who are taking the same program as I do.  She managed to buy one but I didn't.  I was going to order from Amazon and I did.. but my credit card had some issues so eventually I had to cancel the order.

September 27 - omg.  I don't remember what happened on 27 already.  Man my memory is shot.  How am I going to survive the law school?  Oh yes, I went to the first set of Introductory lectures.  All three were very good.  I uploaded the notes.

September 28 - I went to the second set of Introductory lectures.  All three lectures were very interesting but there were many terms that I had to pay keen attentions so my notes weren't as good - so I haven't uploaded them yet.

September 29 - Saturday was the Matriculation day.  I don't actually understand the purpose of it but over all it was nice.  I don't think any of the schools I have been to had similar functions.  No school took photos like you would do for graduation before I started the course.  But then I never took graduation photos... maybe when I graduate from Cambridge, I will take some grad photos?

Also, on Saturday, I had a meeting with my tutor.  He told me that I should do some things other than studying law otherwise I will go crazy.  I didn't really tell him that I don't have hobbies that are typically enjoyed by majority of people.  I didn't tell him that my hobbies are going to Costco for shopping, looking for (residential) properties to purchase, and looking for next startup ideas.  Oh I do paint, draw and take photos sometimes but they didn't seem that significant.

After the meeting with my tutor, I went to London.  I also managed to get a 16-25 railcard, a card that allows you to get 1/3 discount on rail tickets for one year for £28.  I was going to meet D at Kings Cross and funny enough, I got to Kings Cross like 25 min earlier from Cambridge that D from Wandsworth.

My main purpose of the trip to London was (other than seeing my beloved) to get my bank card picked up but I couldn't manage it due to London's commuter traffic.  Well let's just say I thought Vancouver was bad.

After an unsuccessful attempt to pick up my bank package, D dropped me off at the Putney train station.  So from there, took a train to Vauxhall, on Victoria Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras, and from Kings Cross to Cambridge.  Overall from Putney, it took about 2 hrs to get to Cambridge.

Today, October 1, I had a meeting with my Director of Studies (DoS) to discuss this year's subjects.  It seems like I will be taking: constitutional law, contract law, tort, land law, and international law.  They all sounds very interesting.  Tomorrow, supervisions will start.  And I was surprised to find out the supervisions are all over the campus.  I mean ALL OVER!!!  I was trying to get by without getting a bike but after learning where my supervisions are (and I have these five times every other week on top of lecture that I have every day at the law school - which is also 25min walking distance).  I finally gave in and bought a bike.

Well I think this is long enough now.  I should turn in soon because I have two supervisions tomorrow and before the first one, I have to go and pick up my bicycle.


[photo: Cambridge Squire Law Library]

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Introductory Course - Day 1

So all the new students to the faculty of law at Cambridge is required (but not sure how they enforce it) to take the three day introductory course.  There are two sets - one for normal first year law students and one for rest of them.  I fall into the rest of them as I am doing two year BA as an affiliated student.  I heard so much about how difficult it would be.  Hmmm... are they just trying to scare me? or is it REALLY going to be that challenging?  Don't get me wrong - I don't think it will be a stroll in the park but for now I really don't know what to expect.

Here are my notes taken for today's classes.  I must say both lecturers were so good and I was totally into the lectures... even with a bad headache.  :)

Disclaimer - this is written by me and I could have misheard or mistyped or misinterpreted the contents. After all, I don't speak the same English as the people giving me the talks.

Introduction to Cambridge and to Faculty of Law (GrahamVirgo)

Who does what?
-       colleges and faculty – how are the responsibilities split?
-       University – responsible for formal teaching (including exams andgiving degree – I will end up with a BA, previously LLB was LLM yup it isconfusing)
-       Colleges – small group teaching and supervisions will be provided bycollege for BA but with LLM, all teachings are done by faculty)
-       Faculty of Law – lectures are provided at the faculty
o  Lectures are starting at 5 pastand finish at 5 to every hour (each lecture is 50min)
o  LG – lower ground, B – basement
o  Library 1 to 3rdlevel
o  Admin – Receptionist (Norma –she will have answers to most questions if not she can point to the rightperson, Laura Smethurst – Secretary of Faculty – we will get many emails fromher)
o  Limited financial supportavailable for hardship
o  You can be a practicing lawyerin the UK with one year of academic studying of law.
o   Debate of legitimacy of law as an academic subject - the Feb 27 in LG19
o  Need to learn how to think andwrite like a lawyer
o  Critical engagement – not onlyto criticize the law but also suggest improvements
o  Develop other legal skills
o  Mooting – form of debatingabout law and the application of particular problems (participate mootingcompetitions)

Practical issues (Steve Burdett)

-       Computing –
o  Internet based legal resources– westlaw uk / lexis library / justcite etc
o  Lapwing and Eduroam (Eduroam  - just need to be authenticated once)
o  Free McAfee –http// (Mac/PC)

-       Mailing lists – http// – Raven authenticated

-       Check that you are a member –

Introduction to Law and Sources of Law (Mrs. Padfield)

Recently there has been much focus onprocedural justice – which will not be our focus at the moment.

Common law vs. Equity Law
-       common law tradition – Romans never had influenced on the legalsystem in the UK
-       Writs
-       Lord chancellors – legal advisors
-       Common law courts and equity courts were running in parallelhowever, it is important to distinguish.
-       Bleak House – Charles Dickens ß read
-       1873 – 1875 – time of enormous arrogance, time of radical legalreform
-       Since then, you can go to any court and ask for common law or equitylaw remedies
-       In contract – common law court only developed common law remediesand equity courts – different
-       Magna carta – highlight to understand – some sort of human rightsdocument
-       1485 – Welsh took over all power of this country
-       when speaking about English legal system it means English and Welshsystem – Scottish system is very different
-       1605 – Scotland and England joined
-       there is no one written constitutions – bits and pieces due tocomplicated legal history

Sources of Law – acts of parliaments
-       acts of parliaments – before they become acts, they are bills
-       Common Law systems – we put more weight on cases
-       Judges
o  Status of judges different fromEnglish system to others (lawyers become judges)
o  We needed judges to make law –codification of law may not require judges to make laws (i.e. in France) –judges made law
o  The court of appeal (there isonly one in this country) – can set precedents
-       cases remain as an important source of the law
o  Martin (if only one name thentypically criminal case, neutral citation code is EWCA Crim 2245)
o  Reeves v Commissioner (But readReeves and Commissioners) - tort – Ms Reeves partner got caught and hunghimself.  Ms Reeves sued the police.
o  Ms Reeves was awarded 8600 GBP à then appealed, then got awarded 4300 because both parties wereaware of Mr Reeves mental instability
o  A v S of S for Home Dept – read to understand how to read cases
o  R (Purdy) – judicial reviewcases, right to die cases (Mrs. Purdy would like for her husband to be allowedto kill her)
-       You don’t have an innate ability to appeal – unless you prove thatthe court was unsafe(?) that the conviction was unsafe.

Structure of the Courts

Civil Courts
-       magistrates’ courts (unpaid and unqualified) – mainly family lawbusiness, can’t divorce people but can set terms of separations etc
-       county courts – not much interesting for visitors, busy for all lowlevels – relatively small - civil disputes, contract à cheaper than high courts
-       you get higher quality judges at high courts
-       high courts – more substantive cases
o  wills, trusts, injunctions –chancery division at high courts
o  queen’s bench division – expertcourts within this division, includes commercial court
o  divisions are much moreflexible now so even if you are not in the quite right division, less likely toget thrown out
o  family divisions
-       Court of Appeal (CA) – Civil divison
-       Supreme courts – used to be called house of lords (changed in 2005)(à look up carpets at Supreme courts) à Supreme Court is for UK
-       Tax matters – high court to Supreme Court

Criminal Courts
-       serious cases are dealt at Crown Courts
-       Judge can have a trial without a jury but very exceptional cases
-       Summarying, indictable, tribal
-       Magistrates court can convict much less amount – if guilty, pleadguilty magistrates court if pleading not guilty, go for a jury for much higheracquittal rate.
-       Divisional court –
-       Mr Fagen’s case – innocently parked on policeman’s foot but did notmove it right away but had a laugh.  Didhe assault the policeman?

Cricket Field at Fenner's

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Finally arrived in UK

Last month or so has gone by so fast and so crazy I can hardly remember yet it felt like forever. After so much happened, D and I finally landed in the UK. We had to go through the immigration separately since they had a line only for new international students. I wasn't asked too many questions. Just a few basic ones.

Now I am really a full time student? I will try to fill in some gaps before classes begin. Until then...


(photo: today I fell asleep at 5:30pm for a quick nap but ended up sleeping till 10:20pm. Not sure I will be able to sleep. Yikes.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Student visa received, place listed for rental, clothing chucked...

Before getting into anything else, let's just say that I got my passport back soon after my last posting.  Yay~  To be exact, I received my visa not too much after I wrote that posting.  Maybe 2 days?

Once I got back my passport, I was so relieved.  And it really made me realize I am going to the UK and I am going to Cambridge to study law.


Anyways, since then I realized there are so many things that need to be done.  First, we had to get our place listed to let.  We found a rental agent and it is posted today.  Fingers crossed.  It would relieve so much financial pressure if we can let our place...

In addition, I started to think about which furniture and other things that we would like to get rid of.  I thought this is a perfect opportunity to get rid of things that are totally functioning but at the time of purchase I sort of bought them as a temporary solution - i.e. many of the IKEA pieces.  Now that we actually have to store things at someone else's house - my parents' - I think we really need to keep only the ones that we would like to keep for a long time.  So I made a moving sale flyer.  I am hoping to get rid of both of IKEA bed frames and other big bulky bookshelves etc.

Also I got rid of another 6 garbage bagful of clothing items.  Just from my stuff.  It is amazing how much stuff I had especially I donated about the same amount earlier this year and since then I haven't really bought any - maybe a pair of shoes and a couple of t-shirts.  Yikes.  I am really trying to become a minimalist.  The situation is pushing me that way but also I want to become a minimalist by choice.  Anyways.. that's where I am now.


Friday, August 10, 2012

VISA is taking forever

Maybe not forever but it is taking a long time.  Considering that the package was submitted on July 25, 2012 and when I checked the processing time of the Vancouver centre for the UK Border Agency, it said 10 days or so... it should be here by now.  But then, in Vancouver they don't process these things so... how did they even get 10 day timeline?  Only thing you do in Vancouver is you take your finger prints and all the other stuff and then you mail the package to the NY location.  Argh... the agony.

So far what happened is that August 1, I received an email saying that my visa application was received at the NY centre.  They also sent me a link that shows the current processing time for different type of visa and for Tier 4, student it was 13 working days.

Today which is August 10, I got an automated email from Cambridge that Cambridge finally received an email from the UK Border Agency on August 9 that my CAS number is used up.  It may need more explanation but the short version of it is that it is a some sort of idemficiation number that is tied to your admission and visa application.

So now... the next email notification will tell me whether my application was successful or not.  And then once it is ready to be returned - since I am currently passport-less - it will send me another notification.  From that point, it will take 3 days for DHL to deliver the package back to me.

Alas, I hope everything works out - knock on wood - so I don't have to do this again.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

UK Student Visa (Tier 4) and Flights

So this week, I am getting my biometrics taken, done, or whatever for my Tier 4 visa.  Yeah I will have to review the final list of documents that I will have to submit to support my online visa application again because I am quite anxious that I might miss something and won't be able to get the visa done on time.  Mine is a bit more complicated especially the part where I am trying to prove where my fund is coming from - my company will be covering for the most of it.  So I am sponsored by a company, which is owned by me.  So..... does that mean I am funding myself?  But then my company is its own entity... so my education is being funded by an organization, correct?

Anyways, I am appending lots of documentations on how I am being funded by a company, who has enough cash and blah blah blah.

The other thing that I just did, which made everything to come a bit more real... was I got my one way ticket to London.  Yup... one way ticket.  I have never bought an one way ticket to anywhere...
Well I guess when my family first moved to Canada, my dad bought one way tickets for all of us for myself... it is the first time.  Yeah I am really going to the UK.  Crazy...

I feel like the next act of my life is about to embark... It's so exciting (yet kinda scary at the same time)...


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

UK Law Schools - Research Phase

I want to have a good set of posts/records of my whole Cambridge journey in this blog, but I know I won't get it done if I make too many constraints.  So I am just going to write whatever whenever.

I use Evernote (I am telling you it is great for those who's never used it but I don't use it as often as I should) sometimes, and I record some valuable things sometimes.

Here is a quick timeline of my application process.

As I also have been planning to mention, I did not write LSAT (or LNAT, for which I felt penalized - i.e. I did not even get an interview with Oxford) so my timeline is quite compressed. 

Although I have been half jokingly tempering with the idea of pursuing a law degree, I was really hesitant on making a move.  I just didn't know what I should do especially that the project that I have been on has been compensating me quite well.  I have also established my own consulting firm and thought maybe that is the way to go forward.

But D had been talking about going to the UK back to his family and I thought about going to a law school a lot for quite some time. 

Sometime in August of 2011, D told me, who had been complaining nonstop about the work that K, you should just apply to law schools in the UK and see.  If you get in, then you can re-evaluate the situation and decide then.  So I opened a UCAS account on August 23, 2011.  I guess things got a bit better being summer and all so for awhile, I didn't think too much about it then.  But as September came and there were more bad days than good days, I started to look into it more and more and September 14, 2011, I decided to apply.

I did lots of online research and found out the following about the UK law schools.
  • First law degree is an undergrad degree and a graduate is awarded typically LLB or BA in some cases (both Cambridge and Oxford award BA).
  • It is three year degree - as with any other bachelors degrees in the UK.
  • Six of top law schools need LNAT (which is LSAT equivalent) - these schools include Oxford and University College London.
  • Cambridge has its own law test (called "Cambridge Law Test" duh).
  • Some schools allow affiliated students (sometimes interchangeably called, senior status students - students who already have a first degree from a university) let in second year - thus it is possible to finish a law degree in two years.
Anyways, at the time, it made sense for me to apply to the UK schools.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tier 4 Visa and We are Moving to the UK

Last Friday, finally got some numver that I will need to apply for my student visa.  It seems very complicated but... oh well, I just have to figure it out how it works.  It seems that once I make my application, I have to go to a designated location and get my fingerprints and other stuff done... leave my passport with them and within a couple of weeks, it is done. 

D has resigned from his position at work.  He has been wanting to go back home, London anyways.  His father is ill and his mom is having a hard time dealing with it.  So, being a good son, returning back to London, where he grew up has been back of his mind for a few years now.  And he thought now is the right time to make the move... So he finally resigned yesterday and decided to go back to London while I am at Cambridge.  Indeed, we are giving up a lot of materialistic things - a nice view from the condo, good jobs, a few friends... and my parents will still be in Vancouver.  Vancouver is no doubt my home and I will do whatever I can do to return back home but for the next few years, we will have to make London (slash Cambridge) our home. 

Yup, again it is exciting and also scary.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Counting Down

Well not really.
I am not counting down yet.  I am still fully busy with work.  I haven't been able to hand over much to existing team members yet. But they do know that I will be here (where I work) for roughly another two months.

I am getting slowly excited.  It's been 10 years since I was a full time student last time - when I did my first master's degree in engineering, specializing in concrete bridge structures in earthquakes (yup very specific and very boring.. but it was kind of exciting at the time).

I am a bit nervous about the whole transition.  I know I can only do it (I mean going to school, leaving everything behind... my condo, car and other belongings...) because I am not married with kids yet.  In my mind, I am still  young and I will still have to work for a really long time, so I still think I have a right to pursue further personal development.

Yes I am nervous and excited at the same time.  I do think I will have more time to do other things... like maybe travelling, painting, photography compared to now.  But there are so many things that need to happen before and thank god my partner, D will be here to wrap up some things.  Things are happening now and we will be concluding the first phase of our life together in Vancouver and move to the UK.  Aaaaaahhhkkk~~~

Kinda scary but very exciting. :)


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Couple's Residence

D is going through some turbulent times.  He does not know what he wants to do with his life.  To me, it is not weird or surprising.  It was more surprising that he did not ask these questions before.

Unlike D, I have been asking these questions all through my adult life.  I've tried to figure out what I want out of life.. ultimately.  Of course it is easy to say that it is the happiness, I want out of my life... but that's just cheating.

So D's plan is to follow me to the UK, which is also where his parents, siblings and friends live.  Although he hasn't been living there for 16 years or so, he wants to go back to the UK for awhile (more than ever).  His dad's ill, his mom not getting younger... yeah I understand his reasons.

Anyhow, I asked the housing contact regarding the requirements to get a couple's residence assigned.  The reply email says my partner must be with me at all times.  Well I cannot guarantee that as his plan is to share his time between London and Cambridge.  However, if I can't secure a couple's housing in Cambridge, there really won't be much room for him to stay in Cambridge.

D will still have to figure out what he wants to do when he is in London/Cambridge.  Yeah, nothing is simple.  I thought I would have figured my whole life by now... but frankly, I am far from it.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Room Deposit Made

So finally, I got my partner, D to make a wire transfer to the college for my room deposit from his HSBC account.  And within a day I got a confirmation from bursar that they received the deposit and they will secure a room for me.

But now the question is, my partner, fiance, whom I still refer to as my boyfriend, may want to move to the UK with me.  Well he is a UK PR anyways so he would just be going back home but this could complicate things, or maybe not.  If he decides to come to Cambridge with me.  I will have to secure a couple's unit instead of a room.  I did email the contact person to inquire more information about this so we will see if it is indeed an option for D to stay in Cambridge and continues to consult?

Now it is becoming more real.  I am slowly thinking about my last day on my project.  I started to type up some notes to delegate my tasks to a few different people, keeping in mind that I may be able to carry on some of the tasks.  I am thinking about booking our flights to London.  Yup, things are happening. 


Monday, June 18, 2012

I am here...

No one's life is simple.  Everyone has his/her own stories and complications.
I wouldn't say that my life had lots of obstacles but it wasn't boring per se.  Let's say that my life wasn't too boring.  It's just that I am a boring person.

In a way, I have always been like this.  I am confident, smart, at times arrogant, always tries to be fair to others.  I have never been a so-called party person.  My highly limited alcohol consuming ability and my requirements to sleep at least 6 hours a day with a daily average of 8 hours all time have been limiting.  On top of that, living on the edge is really not my thing.  And I don't like loud music.  Yes, I've never done drugs, never smoked pot, and I hate clubs.

So these are the things that I am not.  And it's not because I am in my mid-thirties.  I have always been like this.  As far as I am concerned, I have never changed in this matter.

What I am is many other things.  I love challenges.  I love learning new things, meeting new people and being creative.

I constantly seek different avenue to fulfil my needs.  I volunteer, join clubs, write blogs and initiate new projects.

I am here today not to make money to pay my bills - although this part, I cannot ignore - but to secure another stepping stone to the next phase in my life.  I fully understand the life is a marathon, not a sprint.  I am only one third way done.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Student Visa and Room Assignment

Finally, I received an email saying that my student visa will be processed and another email saying that I need to pay 300 GBP to secure a room.  Unfortunately, I don't have an option to select the type of rooms that I would like.  You know what; at this point, I am not too bothered.  I am not even sure if I am going to do anything more than - say, get changed and sleep.

I appears that my life is in a way set - i.e. I know what I am doing - for the next two years.  After that, I am not sure.  Unfortunately for D, I am not sure if he know what he's doing next month.

But it doesn't matter.  Life is a journey that you take on one step at a time.