By Ong Siew Choo, SMU School of Law
The Kwa Geok Choo Law Library (KGC) is almost synonymous with the SMU School of Law. Not having sufficient sleep is definitely part of the package. But there is always a reason why people choose to study law. This is my experience in SMU and the School of Law.
I started school with a lot of uncertainty. I worried about the new learning environment (the class participation), my new classmates and my ability to study law.
And this uncertainty manifested into great stress.
I remember staying up just to complete my readings. Within a week, I barely clocked 24 hours of sleep. And I definitely do not recommend you to stay up late if you are unable to function well without sufficient rest. That was me. I fell sick because of the lack of rest.
It was stressful because it was a completely new environment. I saw unfamiliar faces and the need to participate in class was terrifying. I was afraid of being judged by my peers and, of course, the professor.
However, I realised that judgments will always exist. And we cannot control how others view us when we speak up in class. All we can do is to prepare well and make sense when we participate in class. Worrying excessively would only cause unnecessary stress. And one of the greatest takeaways from law school would be to get used to being on your toes at all time. You never know when your professor would call you to answer a question and you will be swamped by an entire list of readings which seems impossible to complete.
That is the rigour of this discipline and the reality which we all have to embrace.
I think that it is common to feel inadequate as compared to your peers. That was what I felt throughout the entire semester. It was an unhealthy feeling. However, this uneasiness made me want to be at the top of my game.
My friends would agree with me that KGC is almost my second home.
I spent days in that particular booth at level five—making notes and completing my Legal Research and Writing assignments. Of course, I had also taken naps in that booth because I was just so tired from not having sufficient rest.
Studying would be almost a daily norm. However, studying was not the entire bulk of my school life.
In SMU law, I think I have made amazing friends through camp and group projects. I believe that it is the rigour which bonds us. We are all in this together and no one is having an easier life than another fellow student. We learn together, we joke around, and we have (slight) mental breakdowns at times. But what I remember from the past 13 weeks were the times when we stayed in school and had mini coffee breaks every now and then.
Friendships are so important in school—they kept me going.
I met my first group of friends in law camp. And I remember every single part of the camp—how we wanted to win the other groups and the heart-to-heart sessions we had during the camp.
Friendships outside of law school are even more precious. I enjoyed sports camp thoroughly. Sports camp enabled me to meet this group of supportive friends who would be there regardless of the occasion.
It is a myth when one tells you that you will definitely be consumed by school if you choose to take law. Law school is demanding. However, there will always be time for a break.
Joining SMU Dragon Boat was probably one of the wisest decisions which I have made in school. Initially, I wanted to just focus on school. However, I found that to be mundane. There was also a lack of diversity in my social circle.
It cannot be denied that this CCA which I have joined requires a higher level of commitment as compared to other CCAs. However, this CCA taught me to manage my time more wisely and to be more efficient in what I do.
Hiking up the mountain. Law school will never be easy. Passion and self-motivation are the two elements which kept me going. My first semester in school was definitely hectic. I was lost and confused. However, I found a purpose in what I am doing.
And I can say that I am definitely looking forward to creating more memories in SMU!
Keen to take the next step with SMU? Join our Bachelor of Laws programme.