An Gel Siah graduates with an LLB degree – what’s next for her in Malaysia?

Please note views expressed on the following blog are those of the author and publication on the Undergraduate Laws blog does not constitute an endorsement.

An Gel Siah_pic 1The University of London, Undergraduate Laws Scholarship is awarded annually to one student to study Year 2 and Year 3 at King’s College London. It gives them the opportunity to pursue their LLB degree as well as introducing them to academic staff who are leaders in their field and in an ideal location in the heart of legal London. An Gel talks about how much this experience helped her to gain new skills and plan her future.

What influenced you to study the LLB?

It was a combination of several things. First of all, I really enjoyed studying about the law and how it affects everyday life. It is essentially the grounding of a civilised society. A law degree is also a flexible gateway to different careers.  Learning law also changes the way a person thinks- the way a person analyses and evaluates situations. As such, it’s definitely not a bad degree to have!

Why did you decide to study via University of London distance learning programme?

English law is one of the most mature and influential legal jurisdictions in the world. However, it is not financially viable, nor is it affordable, for everyone to obtain a degree in the UK physically. As such, the University of London distance learning programme provides an invaluable way for aspiring lawyers around the world to obtain a UK degree with similar world-class standards.

How do you feel about winning the scholarship and how has it benefited or changed your study experience?

Absolutely ecstatic! I made the decision to accept the offer as soon as I got the news. The transition to a completely new environment and study system definitely wasn’t easy. In the  first year, the concentration was more on the academic side. I was more concerned with grades and keeping up with classes more than anything else. With time, and as I progressed to my final-year, I realised it is the time and space that the university provides to grow personally that is the most valuable to me. It is this period that got me thinking more about my goals in life and where I want to head next after this.

What is the best part for you about studying at King’s College?

To be able to learn and be supervised by academics who contributed crucial legal knowledge to the industry, the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom, and to be able to network with renowned practitioners around the world. Being in a university that emphasises on independent learning also challenged the way I think and worked – in a good way.

What have you most enjoyed about living in London?

London is simply amazing! If I must sum it up in one sentence, it would be the culture, the architecture of the city, the rich history behind it,  the ability to be yourself and not be judged in anyway here, and the international and diverse community that it embodies.

How has studying abroad been different from studying in your home country?

Much more independent in the UK – or in King’s College at least. This fosters the ability to think and to come out with one’s own opinions about matters. The same is aimed and cultivated back home as well but I think the environment beyond the classroom plays a crucial role. Being abroad, you’ll be put outside of your comfort zone and the best support you can get is from peers who are away from their home as well. I think this trains a kind of sense of independence in a person which heavily influences the way one studies.

What would you describe as the most challenging part of your studies, what has been most difficult?

Things tend to get a little overwhelming when you try to balance a plethora of matters at any one time. Be it rushing for essay deadlines, finishing up work from societies, attending networking events, showing up and preparing for classes and tutorials, researching for job and internship applications, and perhaps maintain a little social life as well- it can definitely get tough! But I guess this is part of the university experience and it is universal. Now, it is a valuable memory that I’ll keep for the rest of my life!

Were you working while you were studying?

Yes, I did. I worked for the Student Services at King’s College as a Money Mentor. After the initial application and interview process, I am professionally trained to speak to students who reached out for support on money issues. It is a very meaningful position and I learnt a lot from my own mentors and peers. It is a zero-hour contract and therefore I only work when I am free so as not to compromise my studies. I also took up a commercial news writing position for an online blog called The Corporate Law Academy pro bono. I contribute articles on key news weekly in hopes that it will help aspiring law students and readers to keep up with commercial news.

An Gel Siah_pic graduationWhat would you describe as the most rewarding part of your studies?

The unexpected opportunity to have part of my higher education in King’s College London! Through the people I met, the different environments that I was placed in, the different work opportunities that came up along the way- it all contributed to my professional and personal growth. It made me more clear of the career that I strive for in life and it helped me discover the areas that I want to (hopefully) specialise in.

Would you recommend studying the LLB through the University of London?

A big, big, yes! Be it your first degree or as a supplementary qualification, the University of London provides an accessible pathway to a prestigious law degree to everyone – students,  working professionals in completely different industries of all ages and from all walks of life. Rest assured that the support provided through the distance learning programme is definitely no less than the support provided through attending a physical university.

What advice would you give to students studying on a distance learning programme, what would be your tips?
Be organised, be disciplined and be confident! Maintain a social life to stay sane but know where the boundaries are. On top of studying and thinking (the crucial part), practice answering past exam papers and learn how to structure and present your answers as precisely and succinctly as possible – as a good lawyer should!

What are you plans now you have completed your programme?

In the foreseeable future, I aspire to qualify in my home jurisdiction. I am taking up several internships in a few months alongside studying for the qualifying paper in Malaysia. If things go well, I will be starting my nine months pupillage in Malaysia by this time next year.

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