GUEST POST: Reflections on my First Year

Law Reports

Caitlin, a final year Law student, shares some advice for getting through the first year at Newcastle Law School.

About Me:

My name is Caitlin Stiles, I am a fourth (and Final Year) Law Student, and have recently come back from doing a Year Abroad in Groningen, The Netherlands. Alongside my degree studies, I am a Law Library Aide and the Law School’s Employment and Enterprise Representative.

As a Law Student myself, I know how first year feels and the first few weeks can be really overwhelming – don’t worry! Get used to the city, the degree, the accommodation and it all gets easier (and more enjoyable) over time.

I am writing this blog post to reflect on my First Year, as a Fourth Year Student (hindsight is a beautiful thing)! I’ll give you my top tips and what to do (and not to do), to hopefully make your law life a little easier.

My First Year:

Looking back, I entered First Year somewhat naively and thought that I would easily get the same grades as I got at A level. I soon learnt that there was a jump to make and spent the first few weeks worrying that my formative results were no longer in the eighties – trust me an eighty at A Level is very different in the degree! Your marks will improve over time as you get used to legal research.

I learnt quite quickly that headings in essays are your best friend, and can make a difference big difference in the clarity of your work.

It is also really important to balance your time. I know that First Year (and especially the first year deadlines) can be what seems like the most stressful semester of your life. Don’t take the “First year doesn’t count attitude”, because employers in final year will ask for an explanation – but having said that DO manage your time and get involved as much as possible!

Balance your degree with what you’re interested in, whether that’s a night on the Bigg Market, Sports Wednesdays or relaxing at your accommodation. First year is as much about getting to know Newcastle and student life, as it is about learning the skills that you’re taught – just make sure to strike a fair balance!

The Eldon Society offers so many opportunities (legal and non – legal) so do get involved, and there is no better time than first year to get involved so you can really grow and become part of the society and what it has to offer!

In regards to the degree and time management – figure out what works best for you! I personally found a 9-5 day was best for me (but didn’t learn this until second year!) I did all my seminar work, reading etc in the day by going to the library 9 to 5, and taking rest breaks and then having the evenings and weekends free to ‘de-stress’ and socialise. Secondly, your degree is not a competition, share notes, thoughts and revision tips with each other – this isn’t ‘Suits’, helping each other really does help you learn and succeed!

Seminars are the most valuable part of university teaching, a lot of the time they are really focused on helping prepare for the exam – so spend that extra half hour really preparing for the seminar and asking anything you’re unsure about – even if it only seems small!

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask – again this took me time to learn and to overcome fears of speaking in seminars and lectures! However, it really will surprise you how helpful lecturers, classmates and even those in the legal profession can be if you take the time to ask!

Study Well@NCL – What we’re doing in the Walton Library.

As you may have already seen Study Well@NCL advocates a responsible approach to studying and encourages positive behaviours in study spaces because we know it can be stressful especially at certain times of the year.

Extended Opening Hours

Here in the Walton Library from 7th-25th January 2019 we’ll be extending our opening hours opening from 8:30 until midnight, seven days a week. You can check our extended opening times on the library website.

Noise Alert Service

We’ll also be monitoring our Noise Alert phone very closely during this time. Wherever you are in the Walton, you can text us at 07891 484764 and we’ll investigate the source of the noise issue as soon as possible.

Housekeeping

During busy periods staff will be checking to see:

  • where seats are available.
  • that bins are emptied.
  • that bathrooms are clean.
  • that walkways are kept clear.

How you can help

  • Choose a study space suited to your preferred choice of study, we have silent, quiet and collaborative spaces to chose from.
  • Do be mindful of the food and drink policy within your chosen study area.
  • We might not always know straightaway if there’s a shortage of towels in the bathroom or if a bin in a group study room needs emptying. Just give us a quick heads up if you notice something that needs our attention and we’ll be right on it.

Looking after yourself

We encourage all Library users to take regular study breaks. Taking the time to get a drink of water or some fresh air can make all the difference to your study session.[1] However, to be fair to all Library users, we’re asking that breaks away from your study space are no more than 30 minutes.

Colour your Campus

On a much lighter note, we’ll be providing pens, pencils and special medical-themed colouring sheets for you to relax and unwind with. Studies have shown that colouring can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in adults.[2] So while you’re taking a study break, why not pause and Colour Your Campus? Even better, hand your completed sheet in to a member of Library staff with your name or Twitter handle on the back and we’ll enter it into a draw to win some fabulous Library prizes.

We hope that Study Well@NCL provides you with a peaceful and productive study environment and allows you to achieve maximum studying satisfaction. We welcome feedback on how we can change or improve Study Well@NCL. You can Tell Us What You Think’ online or get a form in the Walton Library.

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please contact the University Student Wellbeing Team or NUSU Student Welfare. They’re there to help.

We wish you every success with your exams – Study well.

References

[1] Flett, J., Lie, C., Riordan, B., Thompson, L., Conner, T. and Hayne, H. (2017). Sharpen Your Pencils: Preliminary Evidence that Adult Coloring Reduces Depressive Symptoms and Anxiety. Creativity Research Journal, 29(4), pp.409-416.

[2] Selig, M. (2019). How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/changepower/201704/how-do-work-breaks-help-your-brain-5-surprising-answers [Accessed 2 Jan. 2019].

 

 

Our Academic Skills Kit (ASK) is here to support you through revision

How about using the Academic Skills Kit (ASK) if you need support during revision.

You can find it on the Academic Skills Guides and it can give you loads of useful help and tips at this stressful time.

https://libguides.ncl.ac.uk/finding

Lots to choose from but the link below might be the most helpful

https://internal.ncl.ac.uk/ask/exams-revision

 

 

Study Well@NCL

Students studying well

Study Well@NCL is a collaborative campaign formulated by NUIT, the NUSU Welfare Equality Officer and the University Library. Study Well@NCL advocates a responsible approach to studying and encourages positive behaviours in study spaces because we know it can be stressful especially at certain times of the year.

  • Choose the right environment for your study needs. We provide different study spaces and study rooms across campus depending on how you want to study.
  • To find a free space check out our current study space availability information on the web or via the Newcastle University App. If you’re struggling to find a study space in the library buildings please ask a member of staff and we will help you.
  • To find free cluster spaces use the Find a PC function, also available via the Newcastle University App.
  • Find information on developing your academic skills and specifically exam and revision advice. The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) website has information to help.
  • Stay hydrated and take regular breaks. You can take up to 30 minutes before your PC automatically logs off in all the clusters, and before belongings are removed at extremely busy times in the libraries.
  • Respect the food and drink policy of the space you’re studying in, and use the bins and recycling containers to keep it clean and tidy.
  • Make sure you take your belongings with you if you’re going to be away for longer than 30 minutes. All belongings are left at the owner’s risk.
  • If you are being disturbed by noise in any of our Library spaces, text the Library Noise Alert Service on 07891 484 764 (at your standard SMS rate) and we will investigate. This service is specifically for monitoring noise issues in Library spaces.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed please contact the University Student Wellbeing Team or NUSU Student Wellfare. They’re there to help.