November in Review

By now I got all my written exams and paper from last semester back. My GPA in the main subjects (civil, criminal and public law) is a solid 8, which is like a D if you had an ABCDEF system with F being failure. A D as an average sounds bad beyond any reasonable doubt but German grading system in Law being what it is, D is totally acceptable (it actually means that your academic performance is satisfactory.*). About half of the grades fall into E or F. Only 20% or so get C or better. Only around 0.7% has an A as their GPA, I daresay. Still, I want to work my up to a C.
But more important than getting a better grade, so I feel, is to grasp the basic logic behind the legal system and to critically think about the legal regulations and what consequences they can have. Granted, law students in every country have so much to learn and a lot to memorize. Many of the students seem to become a reciting robot – reciting case, regulations, scholarly disputes (what we call “Meinungsstreit” in German legal system, although most of them are not of purely academic nature). They study to obtain good grades and once they got them, they don’t care about the contents anymore, especially when it comes to mandatory side-subjects (such as Legal History, Legal Philosophy, Legal Methods, Legal Sociology, etc.).
Ironically enough, I learned how to tackle a legal system and its backgrounds by taking those side-subjects and taking intro-classes to other legal systems such as Jewish one or English one. We were/are encouraged to discuss and dissect in those Jewish Law and English Law classes, which makes a livelier and more interesting class.

I am coping better with the stress than in the first semester but I have so much work to do that I feel positively daunted just thinking about it. My schedule is not yet murderous but pretty tiring (32h/week). Mostly it’s interesting, though, and I have the feeling that my brain is adapting a little bit to the huge daily intake of information.

Oh, about my social life in university: I have taken on an hour-a-week shift at the faculty café and I have met and had talks with some new people since then. Most of them are in their first year and either nervous or exasperated or both. It reminds me of myself a year ago although I have to admit I was even less composed than this year’s fresh crops.
I’ve also met friendly people in my English law class although we don’t interact much outside of the class. And I’ve met new people from 2nd year, as well. I also semi-regularly talk with my acquaintances from my 1st year ’cause after one year of battlefield, there is some sort of camaraderie between the students.

*key for German grading system in Law:
A (16 – 18): Excellent (beyond expectation)
B (13 – 15): Good (well above the average)
C (10 – 12): Very Satisfactory (above the average)
D (7 – 9): Satisfactory (average in every way aka contains basics of expected essentials)
E (4 – 6): Sufficient (has faults but just enough to meet the average expectation)
F (1 – 3): Failure
Then there is the 0 (Zero), which means: Totally Useless Performance

As if I didn’t have enough to do. I joined AIESEC in the beginning of the month and so far it has been pretty neat. The people are all very very friendly and there is this instant acceptance just because you belong to the same NGO. My Vice President is great and my team members (I’m in iGIP) are awesome as well. I think we will make a good team.

See also my wrap-up of November Reading Theme. In addition I read The Murder at the Vicarage (so cozy & fun!) and And Then There Were None (psychological thriller-ish; I appreciate it but it’s not right up my alley) by Agatha Christie. But the most important book that I read this month is Harry’s Last Stand by Harry Leslie Smith. His partly (?) autobiographical book has taken me back to the 30s, 40s and 50s in Europe and has let me see the world from another perspective, which I appreciate so very very much. My idea of socialism and social equality has gained some substance thanks to this book. It has become more than a vague ideal. And after reflecting on the book for a few days after finishing it, I understand why Claire said that the book gave her hope.

So thankful that I didn’t insist on not watching the Cranford adaptation. It used to irritate me that BBC has put different Gaskell stories together to create the 2007 adaptation. But oh, it was done so skillfully! The seamless overlap of Cranford, Mr. Harrison’s Confessions and My Lady Ludlow! (Although I have not read the last one yet.) Amazing cast and setting! Even though Captain Brown got a whole lotta bigger role than he does in Cranford, and some characters were left out, and some relationships were fused, it makes one amazing story about small-town solidarity, adapting to change, friendship between women, young love, death, silliness and the deadly power of rumor and reputation in a small town.
I watched both Cranford and The Return to Cranford in less than a week even though I had a full plate of university! In The Return to Cranford, a new storyline (mainly taken from The Moorland Cottage) makes appearance while Mr. Harrison’s Confessions fade into background (in fact, the newlyweds are never seen again).
Because there are so many characters with a sub-plot for each, I can well imagine that it might be confusing for people who have read none of the stories the adaptation is based on. But for those of you who are willing to take the chance, I encourage you to do so!

Mostly I’m trying to balance all of the aspects of my life. Lately I feel like I’ve been neglecting my academic life, which is not acceptable! The housework is manageable, mostly because I spend more than half of the day outside and from the other half, at least six are spent in bed. I have to get back to my off-line life now.


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