This week’s blog post is a continuation of last week’s so let’s just get on with it!
On one fateful day in March 2015, my dad was on his way to work in Toronto while I was three hours away at uni in Kingston. He sent me a picture of an advert for Leicester Law School in our local newspaper and we chatted about it being a possible alternative to Canadian law school. I did some sleuthing around and I loved the idea of going to England, so I started to put an application together. It was pretty spontaneous, but I realised that after failing to make up my mind in choosing a career path to follow, I really did want to do law (or at least try it out). I was confident that law was the subject I could excel at and that this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for.
I didn’t apply to any universities other than Leicester and the deal was that if I got accepted, I would start that September, but if I didn’t get accepted, I would finish the last two years of my degree in Canada and then see what my options were from there.
It took me a month to perfect my application and it took them four days to get back to me. On that fateful April day, I remember seeing The Email in my inbox and, with my heart pounding, I clicked on it. Luckily, I was accepted! I immediately (tearfully) interrupted my dad in a meeting to call him and tell him. I was going to England!
Now that I’m here studying law, I’m still changing my mind all the time! I came to Leicester with a very different plan than the plan I have now. In the beginning of first year, my plan was to go back to Canada after my three years in Leicester, and then go through the long process of becoming a lawyer back home. Halfway through first year, I decided that I wanted to go on a year abroad to France so that I could go back to Canada bilingual and find a job more easily. As a side note, English and French are both official languages of Canada, so there’s a demand for French-speakers in legal and government jobs in Canada. This year, I came into second year with that plan in mind; I even took French classes this year to prepare.
Then, EU Law Lecture 8 changed everything (again). It was a lecture on the Court of Justice of the EU and I was absent-mindedly writing notes; then, I heard ‘lawyer linguist’ and I immediately perked up. We learned that a lawyer linguist is someone who works in the EU and translates law into different EU Member State languages (i.e. French, English, Italian, Spanish, etc). Each lawyer linguist is an expert in a niche field of law that an EU institution regulates (i.e. fishing laws). The challenge in being a lawyer linguist is capturing the essence of the originally drafted law and weaving it into the second language; the intention of the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, and the European Parliament in creating the law cannot be lost in translation (literally).
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that maybe I had a hidden passion for languages. At home, my family speaks a mix of English and Mandarin with the tiniest bit of French thrown in there; I realised that growing up with that mix of languages opened the door to being able to pick up new languages quite easily. As a Canadian, I have some knowledge in French – lots of knowledge on grammar, but it hadn’t been put into speaking practice much. In studying music throughout high school and my first degree, I picked up a little bit of Italian, German, and Latin along the way, and now, I’m cementing my French with classes at Leicester. I love that there are words that can’t be translated between languages because it gives your worldview a whole new dimension. For example, my friend from Cyprus once explained to me that there are 4 words for ‘love’ in Greek and they all have distinct meanings and are used in different contexts. I love that and I find it so fascinating because it makes you think about the different types of love and how, in English, we have to explain which meaning of ‘love’ we’re using to put it into context. But, I digress.
Being a lawyer linguist would marry two of my passions, law and languages, and that’s generally where I’m headed. I still have options open, such as applying for training contracts or going back to Canada to pursue a Masters in Law (LLM), but who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind again.
So, which path will you take?