Tag Archives: What to Do

Before You Study Abroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List

10 Feb

“Before You Study Abroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List”

by Roslyn Kent via “Huffington Post

Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail; get organized, check off that list and do your research before you go overseas to the United Kingdom–you won’t regret be over prepared.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed by all the check lists, packing lists and shopping lists that you’ll undoubtedly be inundated with prior to leaving for your exchange in the UK. Emotions aside, the last thing you’ll want to deal with before you leave is the logistics of your exchange; unfortunately, your mom can’t do it all for you. Not sure what you’ll need while overseas? Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do prior to leaving for your whirlwind study abroad experience:


1. Overpack: You won’t be wanting to bring all your unnecessary bulky toiletries. You will be able to buy almost all of them there (unless you need to use specific brands) and chances are, they’ll be even cheaper overseas (hello Poundland!).

2. Buy a roaming package for your phone: Phone plans are dirt cheap in the UK (the cheapest you’ll pay is £5/month or at the most, £15/month, which will probably included unlimited data and lots of texting and calling). If you extend your phone plan from home it will still cost you more, especially for data–you’ll want data in case you get lost. Try to get a month by month plan so you’re not tied down to anything. If you can, sign up with Three Mobile, that way you can use your phone for free in 10 other countries in Europe!

3. Pay for unnecessary visas: Make sure you’re aware of exactly which visa you’ll need while in the UK. It’s likely your home university’s study abroad office will assist you in this, but avoid seeking advice elsewhere (i.e. from friends who’ve never studied abroad). If you’re a citizen of a commonwealth country then you won’t have to pay for a visa at all if you only plan to stay in the UK for six months. Research the different options and be wary of paying for a visa you won’t need.

4. Bring your hair dryer and straightener: If you want to avoid bringing home a broken hair dryer/straightener, it’s highly advisable that you buy a cheap one over there and share with your roommates. Oftentimes, North American hair dryers and straighteners aren’t equipped to handle the voltage of a UK outlet. If you’re certain yours can handle it then go ahead and bring it with you, if not, it’s better to be safe than sorry! . . .


What to Do When you Fail the Bar Exam?

24 Oct

“Help! I failed the bar! Now what?”

If I had a penny for the number of times people have asked me this, I’d probably have a whole dollar.

No seriously, there is a difficult decision facing people who don’t quite make it past the bar exam’s tough standards.  I have a very close friend who was absolutely convinced that California was the state for her. She packed up and moved lock, stock, and barrel to LA hoping to start her dream of legalizing the state one case at a time. But after 3 very expensive tries at passing the Cali bar, she’s starting to lose hope.  

So what do you do? 

I can’t promise you I have all the answers. There for a while, I was pretty convinced I wasn’t going to make it past the exam myself. But, by the grace of God, here I am – a proud Iowa attorney.  So I haven’t exactly been where you are. Note however, that I had already started looking at non-law based jobs before I even took the exam, that’s how concerned I was. So I do understand your fears.  

There are a few options available to you. Most notably ~ 1) Re-take the Exam or 2) Find a different type of Law job or 3) Go another route.

1) If you’re going try the exam again, that’s great. I wish you all the best and the truth is, practice makes perfect. The more you study, the more you practice, the better you will be on the actual exam! A lot of people take the exam and pass it on their second try.  Many Bar Review programs will actually let you take the program again for free if you failed the exam the first time, so that fee isn’t going to be over your head.  There are many people out there willing to tutor you in essay writing, in exam taking strategies, etc. You actually could probably hire a private Bar Tutor online or in your area.  There are plenty of things you can do to improve your strategy. Obviously what you did the first time was insufficient, so do more.  Try new techniques, find online support and practice groups, find new ways to learn the law. I honest-to-God learned a lot of Evidence/Criminal law by watching “Murder One”–where the people followed most of the rules of evidence/objections and I could see how the rules developed or worked. A lot of fiction books are written by lawyers, so maybe find a few that include the rules of law that you are working on.

One note of warning– you will do worse on your second exam if you don’t continue studying and reviewing in the interim. A lot of repeaters say, oh I did great on contracts, so I don’t need to study that anymore. This so wrong I can’t even tell you. Wait 6 months and try to remember all those contracts rules again, you’ll find they’ve already started fading into memory. So you really should continue reviewing EVERYTHING, not just the stuff you didn’t do so well on.

2) Finding an alternative law job is probably the most difficult option of all to accomplish.  There are however, some types of jobs available to juris doctorates–even if some require additional training. For example, you could teach law (at home or abroad). The J.D. is technically a PhD, and there are several schools who won’t care about your bar scores as long as you can teach the topic. Now, teaching in America is probably more difficult, but there are a lot of schools internationally (High-school or College) that want professors of American Law.  Or you could advertise your skills as a Consultant. This is sort of like a lawyer, except you aren’t doing any of the paper work, courtroom actions, etc. And you have to be upfront on the lack of a license. But you do have a PhD in Law (J.D.) and you are qualified to discuss the topics.  Especially if you work in an alternative field and utilize the law as a supplement–work as a business consultant with the addition of a law degree.  Paralegals are sometimes paid even more than lawyers, and that doesn’t require a law degree at all.  Try out writing–many mystery writers start out as lawyers because they get experience in how criminal law works, maybe you could try your hand at it.  You could try being an administrator. There are some organizations that want to hire people aware of the law, but don’t really care if you have a license or not. Try working as a legal researcher. A lot of lawyers and legal websites need legal research done for them–you don’t need a law license, you just need to understand the law. As you can see, there are several options available to you. I’ll try to pull together a list for you to use something in the future.  But for now, try googling around for jobs requiring a J.D.  

3) Actually, a lot of people who do pass the bar are going this route as well–finding a different path.  This happens largely for two reasons–you aren’t good at law (let’s just agree that some people are not meant for the legal industry) or you generally dislike the field (it happens!).  Law is never going to be a completely worthless degree.  Businesspersons use it to create their contracts, protect their company, build start-ups, shutdowns, and more. Accountants use it to ensure they understand the field of banking/taxation and the rules that accompany those industries. Psychologists understand how to protect themselves and their patients. Politicians–well it’s obvious how they use the law. You get my point–you can do something completely different and still utilize your J.D.  

But sometimes, the law field itself is just not going to work for you. Maybe you figure out after the 3rd or 4th try that you’re never going to get past the exam. Maybe you finally take the exam and realize that law sucks–it’s boring, takes a ton of hours out of your life, destroys families, the judges/legal systems are biased and unfair, etc.  Some people take to the world of law like ducks to water. Others of us figure out that us practicing law is like a pussycat trying to be the champion diver in a competition field consisting of sharks.  It just isn’t meant to be. 

This is where my experience comes in. I actually passed the exam. I tried the law. I HATED it. Kudos to my friends who are extremely successful, but that was not going to be me. I could have been successful, but I figured out I didn’t really want to be–at least in that field. Now, have I abandoned my legal studies? NO! I am actually a law professor, legal researcher, and writer. I focus on the areas of law that actually interest me (Art Law & Cultural Heritage Law), rather than trying to force myself into a career as a Business lawyer or Family lawyer.  I like teaching so much better–in fact, I’m getting ready to pursue a MA and PhD in English Literature, where I might be writing about Law in Literature.  

If you are failing the exam over and over again, maybe you need to stop and think about your future. Is law really for you?  Is the future you see yourself in really worth all this stress, aggravation, and money?  I can’t promise you that once you get past the exam, everything will fall into place. If you had trouble memorizing and applying the civil procedure rules before the exam, you’re still going to have to do that in real life where the judges yell at you when you screw up.  It’s not like passing the exam is a magic thing that means you’ll automatically be good at law for the rest of your life.  No, you are still going to be tested on your law knowledge every time your stuff goes before a court. 

So take a step back. Stop trying to force yourself into a bubble that you just aren’t fitting into. What is it that you actually like about law? Money? Maybe you’d be better off going back and getting an accounting, engineering, business degree. The learning? Teachers have a lot more learning time.  Argumentation/Discussion?  Writing, Politics, Teaching government, Creating government policy–all of those include persuasion and arguments. There are a lot of fields out there that will let you use your law degree while still being more successful at something you love.  Yes, this may mean going back to school–and Lord knows, you’re tire of school. But most MAs take 1-2 years and can be shockingly affordable. A PhD may require 1-2 years of classes, but the rest is just writing your dissertation. It’s not like Law school, you can work your way through these programs. And some of your law classes might even transfer!  See what I mean, you have options.  Maybe the bar exam isn’t for you.

Whatever happens, just remember you have options.  If you want to take the exam again, that’s great! Check and see what help you can get for free (the options are better now)! But if you are starting to get depressed about your future, stop it. The bar exam isn’t the end of the world–there are lots of opportunities that work just perfectly without a silly bar certificate.  This exam is only to prepare you for one job. There are lots of other jobs available to you! And some might be even better!

Paris Sights

6 Oct

Exquisite Sights to see in Paris

“Paris is a place in which we can forget ourselves, reinvent, expunge the dead weight of our past.”

**Michael Simkins

Museums & Palaces

The Louvre

Palace of Versailles

Rodin Museum

Palais Royale 

Musee D’Cluny

Musée d’Orsay


The Eiffel Tower

Albert Kahn Musée & Jardins

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris


Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre

Opera National de Paris

Sainte Chapelle


Le Marais

Ile de la Cite

Place de la Concorde

Canal Saint Martin

Parc de la Villette

Shopping & Fashion


Triangle d’Or

stgermaindespres_creativecommons_ccl2008.jpg -

Saint-Germain des Prés

Le Bon Marche in Sevres Babylone


JB Guanti, 59 Rue de Rennes

Rue de Rennes

Haussmann Saint-Lazare


Le Marais



Roller Skating

Activités nautiques, Bassin de la Villette, Paris © OTCP - Marc Bertrand


Disneyland Paris - Tic et Tac © DR - OTCP

Disneyland Paris

Evasion Verte 1 - Paris - © OTCP - DR

Evasion Verte

Parc Asterix - Spectacle | 630x405 | © OTCP

Parc Asterix

Poisson clown, Aquarium de la Porte Dorée, Paris © DR


Natural Views

Luxembourg Gardens

Jardin des Tuileries

Bois de Boulogne

Jardin des Plantes

Parc Monceau


Strolling through Seoul

27 Jan
Ihwa Mural Village

Ihwa Mural Village

Our China University was specially blessed this year with an entire 2.5-month long winter vacation before classes start up again, and the foreign teachers here make the most of their free time.  Many of us have headed off to such exotic locations as Bali, New Zealand, Australia, Heinan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, India, Tibet – even the stunning ice scultures of Harbin here in China!

Personally, I decided to return to the charming city of Seoul, South Korea.  Have you ever watched the old Harrison Ford movie, “Sabrina”?  I always remember that quote: “America is my country, but Paris is my home.”  That kind of reminds me of Seoul, America is my country, but Seoul is my home.  The part modern/ part ancient artistic buildings centered around the lovely Han River and filled with lovely, kind-hearted people always brings out the calm, secure feeling that soothe my soul and rest my spirit. I could spend months just wandering from shop to cafe to palace to park, listening to the sweet locals and getting in touch with the looser, more contented me.


This time, I was able to bring along my mother, who had never seen the city before but wanted to get a glimpse of the place that has captured my heart.  We were initially planning to stay for 2 weeks, but plans changed and we only spent 1 went out and about the town.  Although Spring is definitely a prettier time to visit, having the tourist sites mostly to yourself and looking at all the winter products up for sale was pretty sweet.  If you do visit in the winter, I highly advise that you visit the many, many, many unique cafes scattered around the buroughs.  Try out their “Peppermint White Chocolate” and a Blueberry BelgiumWaffle while watching the world go by outside the windows and tell me you don’t fall in love with the city too. ❤

Seoul is a place to have fun and take your time, you simply shouldn’t try to rush through everything. I know there is a lot to see, and you feel like you need to get ahold of all of it, but you run the risk of loosing the real feel of Seoul in the process.  I wouldn’t say Seoulites are a slow-paced as the Spanish or some of the the Latin Americans, but they definitely like to wander thorugh life to the beat of a slower drum.  You get up a little later, and grab breakfast at a hidden coffee shop.  Then you meander through the winding shopping streets to visit one of the many palaces, stopping for ice cream and a hot chocolate for an afternoon snack. Sit there for a while, chatting and looking at all the sparky fashions walking past you, then slowly wander home via a different path.  Maybe stop at a small park on the way home?  Someone once said Seoul was like a Southern Drawl – you talk slowly, throwing in a few “dahlings” and “sweethahts” to create a classy charming feeling. Don’t miss out on that feeling or you’ll miss the spirit of Seoul.  It’s indescribable.


  • Take Your Time! If you have limited time, just visit one of the palaces or history museums.  Pick up either Building 63 or Namsan Tower – don’t try to do both.  It’s much better to move at your own pace and enjoy the sites you do see than to feel harried and rushed to see it all.  I say this because there is a LOT to see, and you just can’t make it everywhere in a week.
  • Test Out New Taste Buds! ~ Belgian Waffles, Italian Pasta, Chinese Peking Duck, Mexican Tacos, and Korean BBQ – Seoul has it all.  Don’t be too picky about the foods you try – be adveturous!  I admit I’m just not the greatest fan of street food or trying new dishes, but in Seoul you really should make the effort.  Their Ox Bone soup is delicious and the Chicken Galbi is to die for.  Some of the foods will look stranger than they taste. Korea actually uses a lot of the same ingredients as Americans (carrots, celery, green pepper, chicken, pork, fish, noodles, garlic, lettuce, ginseng, etc), they just put them together in unique ways.  And I msut say, the end result is often pretty yummy.
  • Watch your $$$ ~ Seoul has gotten a lot more expensive in the last two years, even since I was there last summer.  Taxis now run a minimum fee of 3,000 Won (~ $3), and other items have copied the higher priced trend.  Coffee shops easily cost as much as US stores, as do many shopping locations.  It’s a lot easier now to find yourself spending a ton of money unexpectedly. I recommend taking out a set amount of money each day (Woori bank doesn’t usually charge an ATM fee and we took out about 200,000 Won per day and split it between the two of us), and forcing yourself to stick to that.
  • Housing ~ While I usually recommend that you stick with the hostel idea for cheaper housing, I know that for some people this isn’t feasible.  My mother injured her back and couldn’t climb the stairs at our hostel and we had to find a place with a comfortable bed and a elevator for not a horrible price.  One of the other places you can check out are the Love Motels.  It sounds sketchy, but they aren’t as questionable as you might think. In a country where many couples still live in a home with both of their parents and their children, private time can be hard to come by. So there are a lot of “Love Motels” that rent by the night or hour for not a lot of money, and they are usually pretty nice.  We found one that had 2 beds, a large flat screen tv, a in-room computer, free wifi, a huge bathroom and bath, lovely wooden heated floors, and sweet desk clerks for only 60,000 a night. It’s a little pricey, but better than the upper level hotels and just as nice to stay in.
  • Buy a subway pass ~ Now that the taxi costs have gone up, it will save you a lot of money to pick up a subway pass, even if just there for a few days.  The subways are brilliantly easy to use and most directions are based on coming out of the closest subway stop.
  • Check out some of the stranger sights if you have time! ~ There is a trick-eye museum and lots of street art if you are interested. There are also some really artsy student shops near the university areas, and plenty of hiking expeditions to check out.  Don’t just focus on getting from tourist site to tourist site. Walk around a bit at each stop, and don’t be afraid to check out a small alley. You never know what cool thing’s you’ll find!

Check out our Itinerary Here!


Seoul Storytelling Tour

30 Jun
Gwanghwamun Square

Image of the square mainstreet square of Gwanghwamun leading up to Gyeongbokgung Palace

I so wish I could take my mom to do this, the tour sounds like a lot of fun!

Seoul Metropolitan Government has established the Seoul Storytelling Mission Tour, which runs from July 27 to October 2014. There is a new tour every week, and there will be English, Chinese, and Japanese variations.  

Once every week, international tourists or foreign residents can participate in the tour as it slowly walks them through many of the city’s attractions.  Stops include Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (beautiful area), Gwanghwamun Square (best palace in the city), Yeouido Hangang Park (picnic heaven), and others.  As part of the event, each participant will be given various assignments such as photographing certain locations.  So it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt!

Sign up quick!  Only the first 100 people to register can participate!

DATE: July 27- October

COST: Free!!

WHERE TO REGISTER:  http://www.seoulstory.org/article/notice/184?pageindex=1 




Seoul City Wall Course

Marronnier Park  Ihwa Mural Village  Naksan Park 
Hansung University Station (Seoul Subway Line 4)


Dongdaemun Design Plaza  Dongdaemun Gate (Heunginjimun Gate) 
Pyounghwa (Pyeonghwa) Fashion Town

Sejongdaero Hangeul Gaon-gil

Gwanghwamum Square  Gyeongbokgung Palace  Sejongno Park 
Sejong Center  The Korean Language Institute  Dorim Forest Park

Hanseong Baekje Cultural Heritage

Olympic Park World Peace Gate  Gommaldali Birdge 
Mongchontoseong Fortress  Hanseong Baekje Museum  The sky Garden

Hangang River

[Yeouido] Yeouido Hangang Park  Nogeumsu Plaza 
Night View from Mapo Bridge  Water Light Square  Seogangdaegyo Bridge
 Banpo Hangang Park Moonlight Square  Floating Island 
Media Art Gallery 
 Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain


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