by Vrinda Vinayak and Vivek Shah
Hello there, ickle firsties.
So, you cracked the AILET, packed your bags, said goodbye to friends and family and shimmied down to these parts, eh? Well done. Now do your best to survive here.
Your first year will pass by too quickly for you to notice, with every month bringing about its own set of emotions. But we bloody well promise you, the first week will be unbearably long. It will be the week where you realise that Paneer and Aloo ki sabzi can taste the same. It will be the week where you miss home, but won’t be able to make too many calls because of the horrible connectivity in the hostels. It will be the week where eighty of you try to get to know each other from the scratch. It will be challenging.
As you worry about how you will ever manage to write a thousand words for “Why Do We Need Law?”, remember that soon, you will beg for days when you had such easy assignments. If your batch is anything like ours, at this point most of you will be getting up early to get to class, but by the end of the first month, all of you will get up at 8:55 for a 9 AM class and still make it on time. You’ll silently bear the torture that the mosquitoes inflict on you, which shall quickly turn into hours in the bathroom with an electric racquet, when you’ll find yourselves screaming, “This is war!” You will tell yourselves to be regular, but will soon find that you’re starting a project at 8.30 PM for a 12 AM submission deadline. You will spend the first month in the library, keeping up with all of your readings, but will then spend the rest of year going there to nap. Avoid sleeping in class if you can (we learnt the hard way that it ticks teachers off); we recommend you only indulge yourself twice a week or so.
We spoke to a couple of people from your batch, and who asked us the same question, “What am I supposed to know before I start law school?” The answer is, you’re not expected to know anything. Naught. Zilch. Nada (friendly reminder that most of us still don’t know anything). Unlike friendly neighbourhood capitalist Career Launcher would have you believe, arranging eight people on a dinner table has nothing to do with what you’re about to learn.
The only thing expected of you, is to ask questions. Assault your teachers with questions. Assault your classmates with questions. Assault your seniors with questions (we’re actually quite nice people). Be enthu-cutlets! Do not make the mistake of thinking, “Oh no, everybody knows what that is. I’ll Google it later.” It’s never going to happen. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, “It’s okay not to know all the answers. Pretending to know everything closes the door to finding out what’s really there. It’s better to admit ignorance than to believe answers that might be wrong.” Your first year is where you learn the basics of law. Don’t miss out on them because you’re too embarrassed to ask.
“How do I make friends? How do I maintain those friendships? How should I approach seniors? Should I be mooting already? How can you expect me to keep up with the readings? How is it already exam time?! What if I fail? How should I stay awake in class?” These are questions that kept bombarding our senses throughout our first year, and to be very honest, very few (read, none) of us have our answers figured out. So take your time. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t participate in that Baby-IMS, or if you don’t top those mid-sems. It’s great if you want to explore all the activities before you pick one you like, or if you just want to sit back and observe. Settling into law school takes time, so cut yourself some slack. “But everyone else is doing it!” isn’t a justification for throwing yourself into anything and everything.
There will always be people here who are smarter than you, ‘over-achievers’ even. Comparing yourself to your classmates may not be such a good idea. Putting in your best into things that you are interested in is good enough, you don’t have to go all out to be the star-mooter or debater or the class topper. If you work hard enough, you may get there anyway, without the unnecessary pressure.
But remember, doing something solely because it is a “signature law school activity” or because all your batch mates are excited about it is not advisable. You want to try it out, sure, go ahead. That’s the good thing about this college, lots of opportunities to try things out, but pursue it only if it piques your interest and not merely because your friends are doing it, or because it is a CV builder. Your CV doesn’t matter at this stage! The first year of law school should be spent experimenting, not worrying about what will make your resume look good. Campus culture is developing, and we’re sure you’ll find several constructive things to do with your time.
Keep your personal and professional lives separate, and balance the two. Taking personal digs at your teammate if they mess up will do nothing for your competition, or for your personal relationship. Drowning yourself in course work alone isn’t going to get you anywhere, but neither is winning Jessup and flunking out of law school, or winning the NLS debate and losing all your friends. Find time for each activity you’re interested in.
“Friendships don’t last in law school,” is the first thing most of us heard when we walked through these gates. But you know what? They do! It might be too soon for us to say, but as long as you have a few trustworthy people around you, you will be just fine. Everyone has the same problems with settling in, keeping up with studies, picking activities to participate in, so friendships forge over common grievances. As time passes, you bond over common backgrounds, common interests, or even because you like the same sort of music or because you’re into knock-knock jokes. So don’t give it too much thought. Don’t forget to hold on to your friends outside of college; the things you have in common with them will drastically reduce, but don’t cut them off. They’re an integral part of who you are.
Having given you all sorts of serious advice, academic and otherwise, we shall now advance a seventeen-pronged argument regarding the locational advantage of Dwarka, which is sure to bolster your social life beyond all humanly-perceivable boundaries; this and more, all within curfew!
Excited? Don’t be.
To be honest, we aren’t exactly located in the heart of New Delhi. You have to make a little bit of an effort to discover things to do outside of campus, and still be in time for curfew. But the Metro Station behind college is a blessing. This connectivity, combined with the restaurants in the Sector-12 Market, the McDonald’s (and an uninterrupted flow of ‘guava juice’) in Eros Metro Mall and the Radisson Bakery should take care of all your needs. So go out and explore, or the monotony will make you go bonkers.
Don’t drive yourself up the wall during your first year. Be regular and try to take notes, or at least be best buds with someone who does (that’s what I’m doing with Vrinda, sshhh!). Play a sport, join a research project, stand for committee elections, moot, debate, join societies, do volunteer work, play an instrument or simply hop on to the metro and go to Wenger’s once in a while. Take it easy. Juggling readings, projects, exams, co-curriculars, outings and relationships is no piece of cake but over time, you’ll find your rhythm. In the meantime, “There, there. Life shall work out!”