The final week and a half of the exam season awaits first year law students at Michigan State University. Of the 264 students in the Class of 2019, only 41 students attended MSU before entering MSU Law. 53% of the Class has a permanent residence located outside of Michigan. I, myself, am one of eleven international students. Aside from the complex and novel legal concepts, law school at MSU has been a foreign experience for the majority of us. What have we learned about ourselves in this first year of legal studies? What is unique about MSU? Hopefully this blog post provides you with an opportunity to reflect on your own personal journey and how far we have come as a collective. As an international law student at MSU, here are a few noticeable observations and experiences from my first year on campus:
No New Friends “Make a ton of new friends!” – had Drake attended MSU Law.
Chances are, your pursuit of becoming a lawyer is inextricably linked to your affinity for social conversations. MSU affords perhaps one of the best environments to forge new friendships. The disposition of most in law school is generally open and inviting. When you couple the friendly nature of law students with the daily lunch and learn events, Saturday football tailgates, and the Grand River/Albert Ave bar scene, MSU and the greater East Lansing area provide an unparalleled opportunity to maintain and grow your social circles. I never imagined during Immersion Week, as an intimidated incoming student, that it would be relatively easy to form new friendships here. Law school is a noticeably different arena when it comes to this. Never be afraid to simply say hi or strike up a conversation with someone you see in the halls. Analogous to the way that before a place becomes your favourite it is somewhere you have never gone before, so too is a person you have yet to meet. That person who you finally talk to might end up becoming your new bestfriend. Or your law school enemy. Either way, keep being open to new possibilities, MSU Law. You have done a great job thus far.
Still Jenny From the Section 3 Block
Tying into the discussion about making new friends above, the fluid social dynamic at MSU begins in your 1L section. It will be sad to let go of the section you once belonged to, in place of inter-sectional mixing for the upper years. Nonetheless, one is likely to never forget the section that they came from. This is where you attempted humour for the first time and made some really great friends with those sitting around you. Your section became your second family. You saw everyone five days a week for eight hours a day. It was truly a pleasure getting to know everyone. Thanks for sticking with me throughout all of my bad jokes!
“Prepare More For the Final Than Any Individual Class” – Professor Kalt
Perhaps the single greatest piece of advice bestowed upon those in section 3, also applicable to all other MSU Law students, arrived from torts and admin law Professor Kalt: “prepare more for the final exam than you ever do for any individual class.” Exams creep up on you fast after a four month grind. Most of us started out law school preparing intensely in anticipation of getting called on in class – thoroughly briefing cases and even, occasionally, practicing their lead joke in front of a mirror (or maybe that was just me). Things quickly changed when we realized that cold calls seldom have any influence on your final grade. That 100% final exam, however, does. Heed the advice of Professor Kalt and prepare more for the final exam than you ever do for any individual class.
Exams Won’t Kill You, But Cyclists Might
Seriously, what is up with sidewalk cyclists on the MSU campus? I cannot count the number of times that either myself or peers have faced a game of chicken with cyclists or nearly been ran over. It is worse than exiting the main train terminal in Amsterdam, unfamiliar with the three independent lanes of traffic devoted to cars, pedestrians, and cyclists, and finding yourself on the bicycle path (true story). Except, at MSU, there is no bike path around or near the law school! It is great that a bicycle is a staple method of transportation at MSU, but these cyclists belong on the road where a demarcated path is absent. Until then, the plight of pedestrians around MSU Law continues.
Good luck with the rest of finals and best wishes for the summer. See you in August, MSU Law!