Why I Didn't Sell My Soul
2013. I graduate with a Law degree. One year later my mind goes back to the reasoning behind choosing this path in particular. Family and friends all said roughly the same thing:
Study law they said, lots of money in that profession they said, very rewarding indeed.
My mother in particular guided my brother and I to study at university whilst our father wanted us working and gaining experience as quickly as possible, like he did at our age. Persuaded by the craving for independence I chose university. In my first year I actually studied Finance and Business. Big mistake, I hated it. And after a few months I wanted and needed to change my studies. I wanted to stay a university student given it’s a unique time in any young person’s life. The exposure to a student loan, alcohol and the allure of women were too hard to turn down. And naturally my future.
I ended up choosing Law because I enjoyed a business law module in my first year in which I scored 90%. Plus Law is a well respected field and degree choice. The reasoning at 19 was good enough for me. So there I was studying a subject I enjoyed and was accepted by everyone around me. It was interesting also. I was learning skills in research, interpretation and explanation, drafting documents, analytical and problem solving. Learning these skills would definitely put me in good stead if I later studied the LPC and eventually practice law.
“Hey, I have 3 years to find a job, right?”
However, after countless hours of reading, the reading cannot be underestimated by the way, not only for understanding but because of the sheer magnitude and intensity that comes with studying such a degree, and countless hours in the library I began to think Law is interesting. In my third year though a new thought came to mind, I didn’t want to go into Law. (Thank the gods for those transferable skills then!) It was still interesting but in the same way it’s interesting to stare at the sun to test how long it will take for your eyes to give out, I didn’t want to follow it and I began to feel disillusioned, again.
Upon graduation and a grandiose welcome to the world of working life I took a job as a partner at Waitrose and volunteered as an advisor at the Citizens Advice Bureau (6 months off a training contract). 10 months later of coasting through life without a goal or direction I decided to go travelling with the money that I had saved serving Berkhamsted’s finest customers, I’m sure they’d be fine with me not there to serve them. I mean their dogs can get a £20 sirloin from another partner, right?
“You studied Law? What are you doing here then?”
I was away from the UK for 6 months and I had been around Europe and South East Asia, met some incredible people, experienced new lands, foods, ways of thinking and cultures all different to what I once knew. I had the bug but I wanted longer. 1-3 nights in a city or country in Europe doesn’t give you a true insight into to the people, customs and culture. I wanted to learn another language. Most of these things I couldn’t find in the UK so I started looking for EVS placements. I had found the Red Cross opportunities in Spain, Germany, France etc. Hell yes, I’ll have some of Germany.
One year placement fully funded by the European Commission, not much of an allowance but the opportunity to live in Germany, learn new language, travel, and of course work experience in another EU country. These are all exmaples along with learning an instrument that people say they'd like to do but rarely get around to accomplishing them.
The idea of the EU has always interested me since studying a unit during my studies. Set up in the aftermath of the second world war economic interdependency was the main aim to encourage countries to trade amongst one another to discourage conflict and maintain peace. The expansion to a political union as well as economic has seen the creation of a single and internal market which encourages the free movement of goods, services, workers and capital (the four freedoms). For me this creates a unity amongst Europe, it promotes citizenship in direct participation, it gives us a sense of belonging, it promotes education (many degrees and masters programmes are free to EU citizens), and it provides opportunity. And despite the storm going on now with the Shengen Agreement it encourages a united continent. I'm currently living with two girls from Cyrpus, half German and half Cypriot, speak 4 languages and they've lived in three different countries. I'm not saying that you can't find similar housemates, or people in general for that matter, living in England but would I be exposed to this practicing law and sitting in a fattening pen (office cubicle) for 9+ hours a day? It would be hard finding the time to learn another language when selling my soul in a law firm, right?
It's a way of life that I agree with. Peace, freedom and unity.
“It's a fluid way of life that I agree with.”
Being a volunteer part of the EVS and living in Germany has given me a deeper understanding of Europe and that my future doesn’t have to be solely based in the UK. Working with children has helped me to further understand and realise the importance of education and after my placement I will hopefully be in Spain working as an English Language Assistant, a role that I wouldn't have coinsidered before leaving in England. (Before you think it, yes Spain do still have job openings despite 21% of the population unemployed!) I'd like to keep working with children and this year has been a great introduction, and a year as an ELA will introduce me to teaching.
It’s a way of life and potential career move that makes me happy and keeps me on my toes. I wouldn’t be at this point without the opportunity provided by the European Commission, the Red Cross and ultimately the creation of the EU.
Of course though, studying Law has helped me get here. Those bloody hours in the library weren’t wasted after all.