When I was twenty-two,
It was a very good year,
It was a very good year for independent life,
And nights in London town,
We rarely felt down,
And had great things to do,
When I was twenty-two
Thus Ervin Drake’s song (popularised by Frank Sinatra) would have gone, had the composer of “It Was A Very Good Year” benefited from my support as lyricist.
The academic year of 2009-2010 has now come and gone, and I believe my time in London was not only well spent but also great fun.
Between work and play, squirrels and pigeons, Irish and Indian, cuisine and grub, it was a wonderful blend of smiles and tears (well, not quite) from mid-September to end of June.
As an LLM student, I enjoyed lectures that qualified, in my view, as classes worthy of the degree of “Master of Laws”. Those who shared their knowledge and wisdom with us did so (overall) in a positive, instructive and interactive manner. I shall remember many a discussion about the implications of regulation by/of technology, about the reach of intellectual property, et cetera. Hopefully, I shall be able to put this acquired knowledge to good use in the near future; in any event, I know that the valuable teachings of my professors shall not have been wasted.
I encountered in London the same administrative frustration I found in my previous universities, but I am starting to think that this is inevitable (although it should not be so). Many of my fellow students had unacceptable problems regarding course or even exam timetables, even when they revolved around courses of one common specialism and would thus inevitably attract the same students. I have of late encountered much reluctance from my Faculty to allow me to communicate the creation of a new web board to all Law students (KCL-Law.net), and this is a form of censorship I sought to evade for the sake of all students by creating the web board.
As a London resident, I was able to take advantage of the wealth of cultural events that London has to offer, from musicals to museums, although my impression at the end of my stay was that I had not achieved all I set out to achieve. I bathed in the melting-pot of cultures that nourishes London, and had access to an array of sources of entertainment and, of course, plenty of shopping opportunities.
I was also, rather unfortunately, forced to deal with the inadequacies of London transport, from the frequent Tube closures to the incessant traffic congestion problems (especially around Oxford Street). Most annoying, or so I found, was the fact that London seems not to have been designed with pedestrians in mind: zebra crossings with traffic lights are few and far in between, and road names are for all intents and purposes absent outside of the main junctions, which made London navigation in my first months rather difficult.
Of course, living in Hampstead gave me ready access to wonderful scenery, beautiful houses and stunning vehicles. With all the green around, I felt relaxed, at ease. The worries of daily commuting and of the intensity of crowds were easily brushed aside by pleasurable walks in the neighbourhood.
Most of all, I met during this year many people who left their mark on my stay. Some were floor mates, some were course mates and some I knew from beforehand; all were friends. These are the people who made this year what it was, and it was both a privilege and a pleasure to share my year in London with them. As the world is a small place after all, I do not doubt that I shall see or keep in touch with some of them in the future. Regardless of what shall happen, I wish each and every one of them all the best for the years to come.
It was a learning experience. It was a living experience.
Truth be told, I do not regret it.