Welcome to Journey to Millions!
In our previous article, we showed you how your educational attainment can affect your journey to millions. We’ve also shared with you (1) how our dear friends, Mark and Omar, managed to enjoy free education, from elementary up to PhD level, from good schools in and out of the country and (2) how their dedication to education changed their lives.
Now, on this post, allow us to share with you our personal experience on schooling, our latest intellectual adventure – becoming law school students.
If you’ve already had the chance to read any of our previous blog posts, or if you’ve already met us in person, you’d probably have an idea of how Elvin and I love to learn things together. We usually go out of our way attending events, seminars, and trainings about things that interest us, like personal finance and its related topics.
However, one day, we had an opportunity to talk about how we’re starting to get tired of attending such events. We felt that, in the advent of the internet, most lessons can be learned online by reading ebooks, watching videos, and listening to audiobooks rather than by seeing resource speakers rehash what the books say, barely scratching the surface of the topic we wanted to learn about. We agreed not to spend money and time on trainings with topics or contents which can be googled/searched online. We thought, if we were to shell out our hard-earned savings on learning anything we like, it has to radically shape our thoughts and beliefs, not just for the better, but for the best.
What really motivates us in attending law school is the idea of learning something new every day, about things largely applicable in making important life decisions, that we would normally be clueless about had we not studied it in class. Not everyone would understand how being in law school makes us happy, but for those who do, you can just imagine how our eyes twinkle with amazement when we learned about the property regimes applicable to marriage, the detailed powers of the three major branches of the government and its effects on ordinary people like us, and the ways by which laws are viewed, interpreted, and applied. Because of this, every day we come to class is a dream come true.
Life Long Learning
In case you are wondering of going back to school yourself, or you are simply curious about how it is like going back to school, we would like to share with you a detailed list of the joys and pains we experience while being in law school, hoping that these thoughts can help you make better life decisions.
The Pains of Being in Law School as a Couple
Pain #1. Our budget is taking a lot of beating. Before we enrolled in law school, we made a detailed projection of the costs involved in making this dream come true. We calculated the tuition fees, miscellaneous fees, book fees, transportation costs, food allowance, school supplies, etc., and provided for a 20% contingency in case we miss our targets. We felt confident and thought that we could even save some more money, if we were lucky.
However, despite all our efforts to predict our expenses, we failed to foresee the student council fees, the bar operation fees, the birthday parties, and the nightly after class hunger pangs. Add to that the need to print an average of 200 pages of assigned cases per week, which would have been around 500 pages or so, had we not adjusted the font size to 10, used two columns per page, and set margins of 0.5 inches on all sides.
In short, as much as surviving in law school is already a challenge in itself, having the two of us study law at same time is a tougher challenge.
Pain #2. Time is never enough. Aside from reading the books and cases we mentioned above, we also have to analyze, summarize, and most importantly remember and be able to articulate them for our nightly recitation in class.
Since Elvin is working full-time, I did most, if not all, of the summaries (but until now, I still wonder if it were any help to him because I sucked at writing the summaries in the first few months of the semester).
We start working from 7 or 8 a.m. and call the day off at 12 m.n., all days of the week. But even when we stick with this routine every day, we were NEVER able to get ahead of what is about to be discussed in class. There is always something, somewhere, that we wish we could have studied more prior the recitation or exam. (We try to get better at this, slowly but surely.)
As you can imagine, we hardly had enough time to socialize with family and friends as much as we did before. In fact, we could hardly clean our house. We were either too busy or too tired. So, we started hiring someone to help us manage the house chores on weekends. This added pressure on our budget, but we couldn’t imagine surviving our first semester without it.
Pain #3. Our sleep quality deteriorated. Elvin and I aren’t robots. Every night, we try our best to stay awake until 12 midnight. It’s a tough thing to do when we have been up and about the whole day, wanting to snuggle our fluffy pillows after a tiring class. But what’s tougher is putting ourselves to sleep when we are already very much fired up. We lie in bed thinking about all of the things we have just learned, wanting to talk about how crazy the class was, and wondering how each other’s day went.
No amount of tossing and turning can quiet our thoughts down, sometimes taking an hour or two before we finally dose off. This makes it so much harder to wake up in the morning. But since we know that if we fail to show up the next day, or if we fail to stick to our game plan, the probability of things getting worse increases, we try our best to get up and do what needs to be done no matter how tired we already are.
In the coming semesters, we hope to resolve this problem either by sleeping early and waking up early or by enrolling less subjects. We recognize that we cannot afford to sacrifice our health for education, and that for working students in particular, law school is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Now, for the fun part…
The Joys of Being in Law School as a Couple
Joy #1. We learn so much more than what we expected. There was never a night when we came home frustrated from class for it being too shallow or too easy. Even the easiest nights were challenging and very much thought provoking. We either paddle twice or thrice as hard or suffer being left behind. We feel that for the most part, we are getting our money’s worth (except for those nights when our professors chose not to hold classes without informing us ahead of time).
Joy #2. We enjoy the travel from home to school and back. Unexpectedly, we enjoy our daily travel from Calamba City to Lipa City via the STAR Tollway. Our usually traffic-free drive takes less than half an hour, for a stretch of about 30 kilometers (one way). On good days, we take this time to appreciate the beauty of nature or to unwind by singing our favorite songs. On not so good days, we either help each other remember the things we have read the night before, or eat our dinner in the car where I get the privilege of carefully feeding Elvin while he drives. On crazy days, we do all of the above at the same time. Whew!
Note: In case you want to know what school we are enrolled in… We are attending night classes at the University of Batangas, Lipa City campus. It is beyond my capacity and experience to ascertain whether training at UBLC School of Law is competitive or not (Elvin and I have yet to prove that in the bar exams many years from now), but there are some things about this law school that others don’t have, from our perspective, at least.
The first one is proximity. As mentioned above, it takes us less than 30 minutes to travel from our house to the school by car. I cannot speak for those who wish to commute from Calamba to Lipa, but I know of a classmate who commutes from Alabang to Lipa and it works well for her.
Second, it is not only close from home, but it is also highly accessible. What do I mean by that? The truth is there are other law schools close to Calamba, but UBLC stands out because it is strategically located along the road leading to STAR Tollway’s new Balete/Leviste Exit which is only about 2 to 3 minutes from the campus, to be exact.
This comfort of travelling to and from school was one of our main considerations in choosing which school to attend. We knew that being in law school could be tough, as any law school student would say. So, it is crucial that we eliminate other possible sources of stress such as long travel time or heavy traffic. Add to that the savings from cheaper toll fees and less gasoline consumption which make the choice even more appealing, for us, at least.
Now, back to our joys…
Joy #3. Being in class is scary and funny at the same time; in short, it is thrilling! Since we belong to a small class of 24 or 26 students, the probability of being asked to recite is relatively high. There were times when we did well and times when our answers were not on point.
On days when lady luck was not our side, our hearts beat so fast, as if we were having a heart attack. We get to say the right things the wrong way or the other way around. We squeeze our brains dry, but we still fail to communicate what we mean. Anxiety really gets in the way.
On the other hand, when we are able to follow our teacher’s thoughts properly and explain things well, we feel sooo happy; we eat ice cream!
Nevertheless, no matter what the outcome is, we still feel very grateful for the opportunity to better ourselves. To help us cope with fear, we assume that our teachers mean well, and that life goes on, no matter what. We just laugh things off at the end of the day (and make sure that we do not make the same mistake twice or thrice).
Joy #4. The world meant so much more. The perspectives we learn from law school allowed us to perceive people, things, or circumstances (which used to mean nothing to us) with more value and understanding. We now recognize the full worth of the government and many other things (like citizenship and the right to vote, among others, just in time for the 2016 elections). We also realized how difficult it is to prove an accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt, moderating our unrealistic expectations of our justice system.
Joy #5. We learn to be more just. Our reactions to the nightly news are no longer just based on emotions of fear, anger, or delight. We learn to consciously concern ourselves with the facts first, rather than other people’s opinion or our personal preferences. This allows us to have an open mind, [almost] free of the usual judgement or prejudice. We develop our ability to hold no opinion until we exercise due diligence and ascertain the facts the best we can.
Joy #6. We grow stronger, together. As I have explained earlier, surviving in law school is not a walk in the park. There can be many “lows” as much as there can be many “highs.” For us, at least, it is as if every day is an adventure waiting to be seized. And that is exactly what we are doing, no matter how insufficient our efforts may be for others.
What matters is our willingness to submit ourselves to “polishing,” to the deliberate and careful reworking of our beings under the supervision of our professors (who for their patience on our imperfections we can never thank enough). For we know that along the way, the inevitable result of all our toil is our taking home of truckloads of lessons with which we can bless the world.
Lastly, as we go through all the challenges that law school bring, we are grateful for having the option to face it together. Being able to provide that much needed help and support in an out of the classroom and being able to speak the same language (the language of the law) or being able to discuss on the same wavelength are awesome gifts that we are very thankful of God for.
As always, before you go and leave this post, please feel free to type in your thoughts on this topic on the comments section below. Do you have a dream of going back to school? What do you plan to study? Most importantly, why do you want that program or course?
Please tell us if this article has helped you in anyway. Elvin and I would be very glad to hear your stories too.
Lastly, if you know anyone who could benefit from this post, please take a second and send them a link to this article. Help us help others reach for their dreams.
Until my next post.
Image taken from Rex Bookstore – Law School Books