On the Announcement of California State Bar Results and Thanksgiving

California State Bar results are out. I am now an attorney in California!! I feel like the dancers in Pharell’s “24 Hours of Happy” video! It cost me so many tears and stress to get through that exam. I had to read multiple times “The name above appears on the pass list for the July 2013 California Bar Examination” because I couldn’t believe it. And two days later I still check the pass list to make sure my name is still there! People ask me what I am doing studying financial management, and the short answer is I choose not to throw all my eggs in one basket, especially in the tough legal market. Besides, I enjoy what I am studying.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded what one of the lecturers during bar prep said – bar applicants should feel thankful to sit for the bar exam. I have to agree wholeheartedly. While studying in London, I am very conscious of the fact that if I had been born in another country, I might not have had the same access to quality education, the opportunity to study abroad, or the opportunity to become an attorney.

So I was slightly disappointed when I foolishly looked on the academic calendar for Thanksgiving vacation dates and remembered this is an American holiday, not a British one. But even though I won’t have any vacation from Middlesex Uni or share a meal with my family, I am thankful and happy to be here, and I wish all my friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday in the U.S. of A.

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Things to Know about Applying to UK Universities

So, say you would like to study abroad, or perhaps you’ve already been accepted to a school. There are a couple things I wish someone had told me earlier that I will share:

The U.S. Government will lend you the money to get a degree in another country, just like they lend you the money to get a degree in the U.S! Cool! I never knew this until I asked around. You have to pick from one of the approved schools on a list, but there are plenty. Also, there are annual and lifetime limits to the amount of federal loans you can take out. Click here to get more info at federal student aid.

European degrees are often completed within a shorter time-frame than in the U.S. For example, British undergraduate degrees are often three years, rather than four. My Masters program is one year, rather than two. And law degrees are something you do in undergrad, rather than law school. Also, it goes without saying, but there are degree programs here you won’t necessarily find in the U.S. (mine, for example).

Deposits. I don’t know what it is like for others, but after receiving a “conditional offer” of admission, I put a £1000 deposit in order to secure an “unconditional offer” at Middlesex as an American student. Go ahead and do that conversion to dollars. In law school and college I was never asked for a deposit in return for an “unconditional offer,” so it definitely took me by surprise. The money was credited towards my tuition though. And since I already have significant debt, I decided to pay with my own money, rather than seek to borrow more. Keep in mind I never asked whether this deposit could be deferred or later deducted from my fedloans (which were received in the first week of the term); I simply paid it. So if you cannot pay a deposit, it is best to discuss your financial situation with the university.

UK visas. Read the guidance forms and application forms carefully. If you are filling out a form, and it references a separate guidance note, then find the guidance and read it! It was slightly confusing, even for me as a law student accustomed to legalese, but the guidance forms helped. Also, if you pay online, and the transaction doesn’t go through, then it could be because your bank rejected it as a suspicious transaction (which is what happened to me). You might want to call your bank to see if that is what happened before you try paying online again.

To all future students, I wish you luck with your studies and I hope you have a smooth transition to your chosen educational institution!