Thursday, March 23, 2023

Exams and Winter Break

  For the most part, I like law school. I have made great friends. I learn so much, and I get to represent actual clients in my clinic and get a head start on my career. However, there is one part that I hate. Exams. I have never been a good test taker. Exams are such a big part of law school, so I had to learn how to deal with them. Now that I’m one and a half years into law school, I can confidentially say I’ve learned how to deal with exam season. It took a lot for me to get to where I could deal with my test anxiety, but there are three main things I’ve done that help me. 

First, I start early. I start outlining early and start doing practice questions early. By doing this, I avoid the stress of cramming and can ask my professor questions about the material well before the exam. Next, I study in a way that works for me. I am a firm believer in that there is no “right” way to do law school. All of us are different, so our studying should be different as well. For example, while some students do a traditional outline for their classes, I make flow charts. This helps me visualize the concepts we learn and how they all interact and affect one another. Lastly, I remind myself that my grades don’t define me. Like most law students, I used to obsess over my grades in undergrad, and I would get upset if I didn’t get an A. In law school, the curve makes it impossible for all of us to get an A, and so much of my grade is out of my control. The only thing I can do on an exam is my best, so while I put 110% into my studying and exam prep, I remind myself that the letter grade does not define me and not getting an A in every class does not mean I will not be a good lawyer. 

I also think what I do after exam season helps me not be stressed about my grades. Most importantly, I never talk about the exam material with classmates after the exam. Once I’ve hit submit, I forget about the exam and move on. I also spend Winter break with my family in Texas every year. When I’m there, I’m focused on spending time with them, making memories, and enjoying my time at home, so I don’t think about how I may have done on the exam. This year, I helped plan my cousins bridal shower, and that helped me take my mind off law school. 

Overall, I keep exam season in my mind during exam season only. Once I’ve his submit on an exam, I can’t go back, so there’s no reason to think about it anymore. This has helped immensely in lowering my stress surrounding law school, and my mental health is better as a result. 

Exams and Winter Break

 Being back on campus brings a lot of emotions to the surface. I am both excited and already tired. Excited because the campus feels like a second home and I get to see my peers. Tired because the grind never stops, as we all know by know. I had about a month off between finals and the first day of Spring semester. This was the best reward after the stress that comes with finals. During break, I got to spend time with my newborn nephew, family, friends, and others. I tried to also focus on my self-care, which I began prioritizing last year. I have friends in medical school and they were discussing how they were preparing early for the new semester. I decided not to do this for my own sake. It is great to be prepared, but it is also great to know yourself and have boundaries. I had three finals at the end of Fall semester: Constitutional Law, Business Association, and Ethical Lawyering. I took what I learned from my test-taking abilities and mistakes from 1L and made a few adjustments. I am happy to report that it paid off. In this way, I think law school has changed me. I am more of a problem-solver in all aspects of my life now. At the beginning of 1L, a professor told me that law school changes you; you come in one person and leave another. It is very true. My focus is always on maintaining my core values and only giving my time to activities that align with those values. Yet, it is inevitable that I will change. Law school is tough and comprised of constant hurdles. It is only natural that such a journey rewards you with change. 

Exams and Winter Break

 The end of Winter Break means I am officially over halfway done with law school! This is a feat in itself, I think. 

But as much as I needed the rest, by the time Winter Break is over, I am antsy to get back into the rhythm of school. After spending Fall Semester in the thick of it, I sometimes find it difficult to sit around and do nothing after working so hard! 

After my Fall Semester, however, I was glad to have a few moments to myself. My finals this past semester were hard – I cannot tell a lie! So I was happy to rest a bit after all of the studying. 

One of my favorite things to do in my down time is read. It quickly falls by the wayside during school because once I’m done reading cases and rules for class, I don’t want to read anything else! Throughout the school year, I collect books I want to read on my breaks and pile them up around my room. 

This Winter Break, I read a grand total of *drum roll, please* 15 books! To some, it might sound like a lot. But I’m a fast reader, and some of the books were quick “beach reads.” This is a great way to relax my brain and focus on something else – someone else’s story for a while. 

Winter Break also offers a great opportunity for me to work on job applications. While some of my friends are long done with their job applications because they are on the Big Law track, most Public Interest firms and organizations do not start hiring until the Spring! Winter Break offers me some time to perfect my cover letter and resume, and get all those job applications done! 

All in all, I use my Winter Break the way I always have – a time to reset, reconnect with friends and family who I don’t always get to see during the semester, and relax. 

Now, I have to hang up my fun-to-read books, and turn back to my law books!   

Exams and Winter Break

 My last exam ended on December 20th at 9:10pm and exactly 24 hours later I was on a plane from LAX to MNL. I brought all of my camera gear, my current read (“Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law” by Mary Roach) and my laptop to keep doing the occasional work for my Practicum when it came.

Flying home once a year is more than many Filipinos get and I’m grateful for every visit. When I go home, people jokingly call me “attorney” because it’s commonplace to refer to someone as their ‘title’, I never really understood why. But it makes me happy to see how proud my Lolo and Lola (tr: Grandpa and Grandma) are to make those jokes about me – as I am the first of their grandkids to pursue a legal education.

My Lola especially has encouraged me to pursue the law since she heard me convince my brother what his favorite color was at the age of 8. She would save newspaper clippings of Filipino law school rankings and give them to me as a teenager. Since I graduated from college during the pandemic, I’m especially excited for my family to see me graduate from law school in 2024.

The strangest thing every break has always been the sudden change from an intense exam season to the sudden relief of your last exam being over. I would frequently text my friends, despite being halfway around the world, thinking I missed something – I usually didn’t and just needed to switch off ‘exam mode’.

I’ve learned the importance of relaxing. This winter, I spent my time on my photography, enjoying time with my family, and learning about animals, given my upcoming externship with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. And of course, eating all the Filipino food I could. 

Exams and Winter Break

 HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023! It’s crazy to me that I’ve already finished half of my time at law school. Exams are always rough, but I was motivated during that time period because Christmas was around the corner. During our 2L year at LLS, we are able to choose our own classes to take and can organize our schedules to our preference. However, we have to be conscious and be sure not to take classes that have finals scheduled on the same day. Fortunately, I was able to schedule my classes last semester so that I had a few days in between each final to study for.     

Winter break was awesome! It was nice to relax and take a break from law school and the holiday season is always my favorite time of year. A couple highlights from my winter break are that I tried skiing for the first time at Big Bear and went to Las Vegas afterwards. On the way to Las Vegas (just outside the city) is Seven Magic Mountains: an art installation in the middle of the desert consisting of 7 stacks of colorfully painted boulders. 

Near the end of winter break, I attended the RISE Symposium at USC. I was invited to participate on a student panel to give insight on the law student DEI experience. It is so heartwarming, inspiring, and awesome to see that law schools and students are conscious and are striving to create change in creating opportunities for law students of all backgrounds. 

I still can’t believe that in about another year and a half, I’ll be done with law school, studying for the bar, and starting my post-law school career. Law school has made me more mature, open minded, and into a more analytical/critical thinker. I’ve never been so busy in my life before but it always surprises me how much I can handle. It is always important to learn how to manage your stress but to also find ways to strive in a stressful environment. 

Time has been flying by, but I’m looking forward to powering through the finish line. Let’s make this year one to remember! 

Exams and Winter Break

 Happy New Year! The beginning of the year is always a wonderful time to reflect on previous events. Although Winter Break is welcomed by law students as a much needed break from the fast pace of law school, it is also a time where we receive our grades from the fall semester. This fall, I had one of the most challenging semesters yet. As a 3L student, this year was all about fitting in those classes I needed to finish my concentration and any necessary bar courses. Naturally, this resulted in one of my most demanding school schedules yet, with several exams and projects to juggle. Although this was a big challenge for me, I can ultimately say that I am proud of myself for following through and managing my time as best as I could. As I look back at my performance from Fall semester, I feel capable and ready to finish my 3rd year of law school strong, knowing that graduation is just around the corner. This is a reminder that law school really changes who you are as a person. There are so many challenges to take on – in academics, networking, logistics, and personal life – that goes into law school. It’s also an opportunity to rise to these challenges and learn to prioritize not only what matters to you, what keeps you going, and what needs to be done. I am so excited that in just a few short months, I will be graduating! I hope in the new year I am able to bring that joy and excitement into my life and into my studies.