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15. November 2018 Barbora Smékalová

Adaptation, deadlines, and London's parks

The second half of the first term has begun, and I wonder where the seven weeks went. Cold and rainy weather tempts me to read literature, and while I have been devoting my attention to the writings of Golding and Huxley, I should have been studying criminal law instead. I would surely have appreciated it during 'reading week', which we have in the half of the term at Queen Mary. I nevertheless managed to catch up on most of my work, and put the e-reader out of my sight.

November is the deadline season. I try not to feel intimidated by their amount and accept them as an integral part of life at university. Fortunately, I am surrounded by a wonderful group of ambitious fellow students, and together we deal with all obstacles much more easily. I have already submitted one essay and need to write one more. Then there is a dissertation abstract, my first meeting at the pro bono Legal Advice Centre, the second round of a competition which simulates court proceedings and accompanying workshops. The competition is based on knowledge of first-year students so that everyone can participate. With nostalgia, I dust off the notes and knowledge acquired last year.

Apart from chocolate, it is mostly the prospect of approaching Christmas spent with my family that is currently keeping me alive. Shop windows are filling up with Christmas trees and decorations and the holidays seem less distant. The meeting mentioned above at the pro bono centre is the cause of most of my stress. For the first time, I will take responsibility for advising my client. Even though the advice itself regarding his legal situation will be contained in a document which will undergo a check by an experienced lawyer of one of London's firms, a high standard of performance is expected from students already during the first appointment.

The adaptation to life in London was significantly less challenging for me than last year. I know that it takes me 28 minutes to get to the university, where the best coffee on campus is sold and how the printers in the library function. It sounds simple, but I have already explained the method of their use to at least three of my fellow students. I am also starting to understand better what I want to do in the future. Hence I transferred to a programme which enables students to spend a year at a chosen European university. My dream destination is the Netherlands, and I impatiently await the start of the application period.

One of the things that I like the most about London are its beautifully maintained parks full of green. I am lucky that my route to the university leads through three of them. My favourite one is Victoria Park. When I pass it, I see a waterfall through a gap between the trees which reflects the sunlight, and it always puts me in a better mood. I have already got used to the omnipresent runners and cyclists ringing their bicycle bells whom I need to dodge on narrow pathways.

Every Friday a few of my friends and I attend a two-hour karate training. It helps me relax mentally and start the weekend with a positive attitude thanks to the released endorphins. When I go back from the training, it is usually dark and the night glare of London lights my way. I walk through the Mile End Park, and sometimes I catch a glimpse of foxes between the trees.
 

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