This blog has been contributed by Daniel Adyera, Undergraduate Laws graduate with the University of London.
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.
For many people, while contemplating on taking a journey such as a vacation, holidays or pilgrimage, adequate preparations are made in anticipation of enjoying time out from busy schedules. It’s exciting to think about the nice weather, beautiful sceneries and good company to add to the experience. My journey with the University of London started in 2011 after winning a scholarship to study the Bachelor of Laws degree via distance learning. Did I make adequate preparations for this journey as a new law student? No! Was I excited about joining a university of international repute and admiration with a rich academic history and home to many distinguished professors? Oh Yes I was! At that moment, did I think that a three years’ time investment in reading and learning the law would be worthwhile? No I didn’t! Did I think that with a law degree I would make a difference in someone’s life? Uuummh probably!
Distance learning at that time was not a popular mode of study in Uganda. A few friends and family who came to learn about my legal studies were skeptical about this ‘recent development’ in higher learning. The idea of ‘studying wherever you are and graduating with a University of London degree’ was novel. Some wondered whether such a mode of study was suitable for legal studies. The orthodox class room lectures was the norm for legal training. Other alternative modes of study such as distance learning or self-study was mainly associated with accountants studying for the professional accounting course (ACCA). Fearing that I might fail with such a mode of study, one relative remarked: ‘If many law students here [in Uganda] are having difficulties passing law exams despite being taught, are you sure you will pass your exams by just reading these books without attending classes or holding regular discussion groups?’. For a few minutes, I pondered on his perplexities. Until then, I was not really bothered about how I was going to study or whether I needed a revision strategy for the unique academic journey that had started.
In my first year, I registered for four modules, Criminal law, Public Law, Contract Law and Common Law Reasoning and Institutions (as it was known then). As weeks passed, I became anxious about juggling my studies alongside other commitments. I drafted a reading and revision timetable but it seemed like the day ran so fast and I needed about twenty six hours a day to accomplish all that I had to do in one day. Additionally, I struggled to read cases, carryout research, read recommended texts on a daily basis. These turned into stressful episodes of my life I wanted to edit. I initially thought I would enjoy my ‘university life’ but to my dismay, everything was piling up and eventually life became jammed up for some weird reason. As time passed, I became overwhelmed and thought I couldn’t handle my studies alongside my daily routine. I started focusing more on my mental preparedness and motivation. I barely understood what I was reading, and if I did, only so little sank in, that it would not last to the next day. So I decided to start my studies with some ‘light weight’ books just to feel some respite and a sense of productivity. I walked into my mini library and picked up a random book (An Enemy Called Average by John. L. Mason) to read so as to get me started. On the front cover of the book was a warning: Truths in this Book Can Be Hazardous to Areas of Mediocrity in Your Life. I was not prepared for it.
Until then, it had not occurred to me that I was a mediocre law student. The title of Chapter 16 was a quote by the late popular televangelist Myles Munroe: ‘There is something for you to start that is ordained for you to finish’. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had started a serious long journey without preparations. I had no idea where I was going. It was like jumping into a car and driving off to nowhere. I was like a captain of a ship without a compass, certainly heading for disaster or disappearing, never to be found. That was my turning point. My continued journey forms part of my linked blog post; Why You Should Plan Your Journey With Excitement! -Part 2.