Thursday, February 28, 2013

80 hour school week

Well not just any thursdays.. even week thursdays are hard.

Originally, in this term, because of rescheduling of my Tort supervision - from Tuesdays, my group ended up with three supervisions in one day.  Which is unheard of... not recommended at all.

Preparing for supervisions is quite a lot of work.  Recommended amount of work for each supervision is about 15 hrs.  so 5 papers (i.e. subjects) then that's 75 hrs per every two weeks.

Which is not much... I know...  yeah I used to work 50-70 hrs a week but I got paid... got paid pretty decent money.

I will take this opportunity to illustrate the amount of work that I would (ideally) allocate for school. Let's say each cycle is 2 wks and each term has 4 cycles.

So 5 papers
Lectures - 3 lectures a wk per paper (in Michaelmas Term) and 2 lectures a wk per paper (in Lent Term)... in Easter terms, only make-up lectures or revisions lectures are held... yup surprisingly small number of classes we have.

So let's just say 3 hr/wk/paper

So that's 15 hrs / wk --> 30 hrs / 2 wks
Downloading / flinging notes / printing stuff --> let's be generous and assign 5 hrs / 2 wks.
Supervision preps 75 hr / 2 wks
Supervision hours - they run from 1 hr to 2 hrs so average of 1.5/supervision per 2 wks --> 7.5 hrs/ 2 wks
Essay writing - each paper assigns 2 essays per term.  10 essays per term.  let's say it takes 5 hrs to write one - unfortunately it takes me longer than that... so that's 50 hrs / 8 wks so let's say 12.5 hrs / 2 wks.

Summing up (for 2 wks)

Lectures - 30 hrs
Prep classes - 5 hrs
Supervision prep - 75 hrs
Supervisions - 7.5 hrs
Essay writing 12.5 hrs
Total of 130 hrs / 2 wks
so that's 65 hrs a week.

but that's sort of average...
if you are verbally challenged - like me - who wishes the law books were written in numbers - like me...
then you need to add some contingency...

so let's say... 80 hrs a wk for me.. but even 65 hrs for normal average law student.. not a light work load.
crazy right?  yeah I did not even study this much even during exam time.

the scary thing is that you need to have your brain fully engaged at all hours...
yup.. that's what it takes as a law student... i am not sure about other places, at least that's what it is to be a law student here...

anyways, Thursdays are long days... hence my lunch [shown in the photo]...

one more supervision (contract) to go.. and then another one (land) tomorrow and wk 6 will be officially done.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Desk of a law student

This is my desk. Yup. Full of thick books. Books that I have never thought of reading as an engineer in my previous life.

I miss numbers sometimes but for now I am enjoying studying law.


Surviving Cambridge as a Mature Student...

neh... life is not too bad.

I remember hearing this - someone who went to Harvard law that you can balance three S's (school social life and sleep).  You just have to give up on one.

I have three S's and one F.  I have family.  Sure I don't have my family here in Cambridge but they (my partner D and his elderly parents) are in London which is not too far away from Cambridge.

So what do I do?  I can't give up on school.  Duh... that's the main reason why I am here.
I can't give up on my sleep - at my age I just can't.  I need to take care of myself before anything.
And I can't give up on my family for the obvious reasons.  They wait for me.  They care about me.  They miss me.

So what's left?
Social life.  What is that?  I dunno.  Is it something you drink after your meal?
Yeah, that's what I gave up.  So far, not too bad. 

Before coming to Cambridge when I learned a term here was 8 week long, I thought it was a joke.  I was used to the semester system where each semester would run for about 13-14 weeks + 2-3 weeks of exam time. 

I thank god every day that each term is only 8 week long.  You cannot physically do any longer.  Although I must say I do balance things quite well - I believe - better than those young ones, who still have much desire to party and to socialise with peers.  I have done that.  I have done that well and a lot.  I got that out of my system.  My priorities are different now.  Yeah sometimes, I wonder if I should be more like them but... I quickly realise the time has passed.  I am no longer 20 yrs old. 

It is not easy to be standing out in any ways.  But definitely got benefits of being different, being more mature. 

It is the end of Week 6.  Two more weeks and my second term is done here. 


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lent term and tripos

i know it is a bit embarrassing to write about the lent term when it is already more half over. but... here it goes.

so life as an affiliated student reading law is not easy.
law degree in general is considered to be the most difficult degree in the UK. (it is considered to be the most difficult to get the first class hounors. there is some article i read before).

but that's just for students taking it over 3 years.  affiliated students like me (also called senior status students) are finishing it in two years.  it probably makes it at least 50% harder.

currently, i am reading 5 papers (i.e. 5 subjects).
only two of them are the first year courses and the rest are from the second years.
and four out of three are core papers - which mean their syllabi cover a lot of material. 

although at the end of the degree, we - the graduates of 2 year law program - will not have completed as many papers (or subjects or courses whichever concept you feel comfortable) but we would have completed all the core ones and some electives.  yes.. it is intense. 

anyways, so in michaelmas term as the first term, it is definitely front loaded with lectures.  all core papers have three lectures a week.  this term, unless a lecturer is behind or needs to make up for a missed one, we usually have two lectures for all five papers.  so that means 10 hours of lectures a week.  that seems light, eh?  NO.  definitely not light.  because they are still covering so much material in each class and there is a pressure of tripos (i.e. year end exams...).  and they are scary. 

argh... yesterday, my classmate told me 'we need to study because we only have 18 weeks left till tripos..' yes for any other courses or program, i would have just laughed at him but here... it is different... i am starting to feel the pressure. 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Land and International, Cambridge Tripos

I have explained previously that I am taking a two year law program; thus I have to take some papers (courses) that are for second year students.

So currently I am taking - Constitutional, Tort (these two are for 1st yrs - to be more accurate for Part IA) and Contract, Land and International (these three are for 2nd yr student - for Part IB).

There are seven papers that one has to take to be qualified in the UK and that include Constitutional, Tort, Contract, Land, (I am taking these four this year as a Part IB student - I skipped Part IA as I entered Cambridge as an affiliated student) and EU, Criminal and Equity (these three I will be taking next year as a Part II student).

Trust me.  The Cambridge tripos system is so very complicated.  I still don't quite understand.  Maybe I kind of understand now but I am probably not using the terms correctly.

International was an optional paper that I was "strongly" recommended to take.  I would have taken IP if I could but it was "strongly" recommended for me not to take.  Argh.  I was a bit disappointed as I only get to choose three optional papers until I graduate but... it seems that International Law is very interesting and it definitely helps me to understand better what's going on around the world.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Law, law and law...

yes, i am  not writing as often as i would like. but it is just too much.
my life is just consumed by law related things.  law classes, law supervisions, law books, law essays, law.. law... law...

as much as i find it intellectually challenging, i am now remembering what some tutors told me - i will need to have a life outside of school.  well their point was, otherwise, i will go crazy.

luckily, i have family in london, not far from cambridge.  i try to go see them as much as possible.  although they are more in-laws still they are my family.

also when i am in london, it has become somewhat of a tradition for me to cook every saturday.  i cook a family meal.  last saturday, i got some fresh seabass and pan fried with garlic, ginger and spring onion topping.  i loved it.  not sure if everyone else loved it as much as i did.

life is very simple.  not much goes on other than... well law related things.
i know kids can squeeze in drinking and partying.. but i was never a drinker and a partier so... that leaves me just with books.