Friday, October 4, 2013
It is the point in the semester that students (especially 1Ls) remark that they are missing family, friends, pets, and other aspects of the environment that they had over the summer. Their sense of loss seems worse than earlier in the semester because the newness of the semester has worn off and the approach of exams is a reality.
Some students talk about missing younger siblings, nieces, and nephews. Some students talk about missing parents, grandparents, and aunts or uncles. Some students miss their dogs and cats - or horses since this is Texas after all. For others, it is members of the familiar community that are missed (pastors, staff at a place they volunteered, mentors, colleagues at a summer job). It may also be certain routines from home: the local basketball league, the local karate studio, the regulars at the coffe shop near home.
It helps if students feel at home in the new community that surrounds their law school. The temptation is to believe that law school allows no time for life. Here are some ways for students to feel more connected to the people that matter and were left behind and to build a new sense of community in the new location:
- Build time into your schedule to connect with friends and family back home by telephone. Perhaps the telephone call will be at the end of the evening as a reward for staying on track throughout the day. Or schedule a longer phone call for the weekend as something to look forward to when your time is more flexible.
- Schedule a time each week when you will write a letter or postcard (yes, receiving snail mail is special to folks!) to your younger sibling or grandmother or another person you are missing. You can also send e-mail, but it does not have the same special quality for the receiver.
- If you are missing being around children, hang out for an afternoon with a law student who has children and enjoy that family's little ones.
- If you are missing your pet, ask fellow law students if you can play fetch with the family dogs or love up on their cats.
- Volunteer once a week in your law school community to make a connection in your new town. You will meet new people and feel that you are contributing to your new environment.
- Join a church, synagogue, or other religious group in your new community to fill the void you feel because you no longer are near your home group.
- Set up a routine that mimics your home routine: go to the recreation center at your university, look for a karate studio in your new city, play a pick up basketball game with fellow law students.
You do not want to overextend yourself with too many activities. However, you also do not want to isolate yourself. Find ways to have reasonable outlets in your law school environment.
Setting up a routine time management schedule to use your time efficiently and effectively can help you see where you can become involved without feeling guilty. If you need help with time management, contact the academic success professional at your law school for assistance. (Amy Jarmon)