[Atulaa Krishnamurthy, a second year student at National Law School of India University – Bangalore, writes this interesting billet of her first year Law School experience. She was associated with CG during her CLAT 2011 in which she snatched the 14th spot from the top.]
While giving my last ever exam as a first year undergraduate at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, I had one of the most intense panic attacks of my life. How could it be possible that I was done with 1/5th of college already? How did I know so little when I should’ve learnt so much? Where was I, where was I going? How could time seem so deceptively fleeting now, especially when I was sure it literally slowed down in the middle of every term?
Hardly the ideal thought process to have in the middle of a Constitutional Law end term, but who said life was fair?
This 3 week break has afforded me ample opportunity to ask myself and other people on GTalk the answers to these questions. And while I still draw a blank on most fronts, I’m pleased to report that considerable perspective has been gained on what law school has given me in the last year.
I came to law school last year, wide eyed and hopeful, having frequently dropped lines like ‘faith in the power of legislation’, ‘academia’, ‘public and grassroots policy tool’ and ‘social change’ that summer in response to the question ‘Why law?’. These terms have since been banished from my vocabulary, reserved only for inspirational emails to CLAT aspirants. It’s probably a great feeling, figuring out your calling in life and all that jazz. I admit that don’t know that feeling, but I can tell you this – it feels even better when a place you’re headed to, one you’ve aggrandized to the hilt in your head, is just as amazing as you pictured it to be.
Face it, there’s a reason you, as a potential law student, are expected to want to come to NLS. Law school is a haven of learning where 400 odd bright minds come together to realize their potential as the future of the country and immerse themselves in the diligent worship of the law. No, really.
Alright, seriously now, we do have a mean trimester system with its constant looming deadlines and no breathing space, we do have strict attendance requirements that make sure that at least a modicum of classroom learning happens and yes, we do have seniors and alumni so accomplished that it’s daunting. But studying at NLS is so much more than that, as my first year here has shown me.
You will meet people of the same feather as you here at NLS; people who evoke an “Oh my god, me TOO!” from you, or conversely a “Wait, I totally disagree…” with the things they say. You will meet and bond with a number of seniors, who will be your friends, philosophers and guides, not to mention uncomplaining sources of free food and drink. It’s quite a feeling, being in the same collective boat as all these other people, who know just how screwed you are during project submission week, how unfair it is that Professor X refuses to give you attendance for walking in late and that Chetta’s, our in-house store/bakery, is closed for a day. You will unfailingly crib about the merciless trimester system to no end with these fellow ‘law-schoolites’. But in the end, you will admit that you like it this way; imagine having to put up with a course you dislike for 5 whole months! (Professors, I’m kidding, of course we love all our courses!)
A word about the courses, then. Some courses will blow your mind, challenge and shatter all the preconceptions you came with, widen your horizons so much that you will tell people back home about them. Some will leave you sitting through class indifferent. Some will be eagerly looked forward to as opportunities to catch up on your beauty sleep. Much learning will happen outside the classroom, in the form of conversations with aforesaid seniors, symposiums and guest lectures. I personally count a guest lecture by Lawrence Liang on the moral implications of Nabakov’s Lolita as one of the highlights of my year. Imagine meeting all these people, who have probably sat in the same classrooms and fretted over the same courses as you have, doing such great things in such different fields, all of which suddenly seem attainable.
You will realize that NLS is so much more than the admittedly photogenic library all of its photo publicity is centred on. You will discover the joys of simply gazing at the Nagarbhavi sky on end, of congregating on hostel terraces and of walking around a campus with more than its fair share of flora and fauna. Stars, ancestors and gods will be thanked for Bangalore’s weather and its general awesomeness. As first years, you will exhaustively explore Brigade Road and Church Street and Indiranagar, and know exactly when to catch an auto back to campus to make it in time for room-check. You will experience with your batch the supreme joy of ‘barbs’, Univ Week and volunteering at fests, and doing a good job of all of it. You might moot, you might debate, you might do both, and more. You will gain familiarity with the music of Katy Perry and Flo Rida, despite yourself, thanks to all the ‘quad parties’ you are sure to attend.
Fears will be faced- it is unlikely that you will be able to sustain a phobia of dogs after a year on this campus. Your vocabulary will definitely expand, to include law schoolisms, expletives, and words from different corners of the country. Friends who have spent all their lives in Delhi use ‘Aiyo’ in their conversations with a frequency that truly warms my south Indian heart. Everything you have learnt at home in the last 18 years will be put to the test. How clean/punctual/virtuous (?) will you be without mum looking over your shoulder? My roommate takes great relish in reminding me how my mother assured her that I was an ‘early morning person’ every time I miss first hour. You will slowly but steadily learn the art of faff. True story.
A lot of this probably applies across law colleges, to the typical law school student. However, the best part of being in (any) law school is that there is no ‘typical’ cookie cutter law-schoolite mould you need to fit into. It is not hard to get disillusioned, to burn out here, especially in the face of a cruel, unbending system or your own underperformance at something. But this is a space that allows you to be yourself, to do what you’re good at, to pursue avenues that interest you. All this, among people who are inspiring, consistent achievers; always ready to lend an old bare act and a helping hand. This is why law school is such a great place to be, and I frankly can’t picture myself anywhere else. I bet you can’t either.