Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Fairy Tale of my First Year- A visit to the University of Oxford

Arthur H. Sulzberger, had once said, “For eleven months and maybe about twenty days each year, we concentrate upon the shortcomings of others, but for a few days at the turn of New Year we look at our own. It is a good habit.”

The same even applied to the beginning of my second semester in law school. Law school was the place I always I wanted to be in. But unlike my other friends, the result of the first semester had not been altogether great. Although, it was just the first semester only, and there lied nine more semesters to go but unfortunately, the result brought me into a state of anxiousness and worries. I was finding myself far too distant from the control I wanted to have over my life, both personal and academic.

In this mayhem, the chilly windy mornings and the cold silent nights of the month of January were adding to my state of gloominess and despair. 

The time was to enjoy my first winter away from home but life seemed to come to a standstill. There seemed nothing to look forward to and my daily schedule just included eating, sleeping, going to college, coming back and facebooking. 

Things started changing and up came from the Almighty the most prolific gift of my life on the night just before the 62nd Republic Day of the nation. A mail dated Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 10:28 PM with the subject Oxford IP Moot 2011 lied in my inbox, of which the most breathtaking part read as follows: 

“I am delighted to inform you that you have been selected for participation in the Oral Weekend of this year’s Oxford International IP Moot Competition on 18-19 March 2011. There was a record number of entries this year, and the standard was very high indeed, so many congratulations.” 

For some nineteen years and a few more months till then, Oxford had been one such place which only lied in my dreams. A visit there was always a hidden aspiration and long due and pending. But life would change in a flash like this, was so out of my imagination. The above quoted text instilled new desires and energies inside the sad soul. The idea of the dream attaining reality was just two months away. For the next few moments, I went totally numb with shock and was just so speechless. I was reading the mail again and again to make myself realize that bed on which I was sitting was real, my laptop as well, not to forget the Chrome window which I opened to check my mail a few minutes back. 

The small, sincere, honest and consistent efforts made in the first semester in the field of mooting by me and one of my batchmates finally bore fruits. It was perhaps one of the biggest gambles of my life, the gamble here being to choose a memo elimination moot court competition over so many other national moots available. 

The choice turned out to be successful and took every single soul by shock and surprise, including the two of us. Visiting the University of Oxford, that too for representing your college in a moot court competition had always been a distant dream not only for us but for everyone, right from the first to the fifth year. 

Prior to this, the only other time when our college was represented over there was some four years back and that too by a team comprising full of seniors from the fourth and fifth year. The uniqueness of the achievement was giving us bundles of joy like anything. It was a feeling unmatchable. 

The next two months were solely spent in arranging things like the Visa for UK, which Airline to choose and which one to leave, the accommodation over there and so on. 

On the morning of 16th March 2011, we finally set our foot on the most sought after city of the world, London. It was my first ever trip abroad. The fact that it was not for a leisure purpose but for representing your alma mater in a world-wide competition made the visit even more important. 

To be very frank and coming straight to the point, achieving something over there or winning an accolade was almost next to possible. Immediately after reaching, we saw the participants’ list only to realize that we fell in the category of the youngest and the least experienced. There was only one consolation from which we derived confidence. The moot only had slots for 20 best teams around the world. We were one of those 20 to have cleared the world memo elimination round whereby our written submissions, i.e. arguments in written from both the sides were selected. 

Teams from places like the LSE, Boston University, Queensland University of Technology were all big stalwarts who were champion mooters with champion coaches. We were, as one them jokingly remarked in an informal conversation, merely debutant babies in front of them. 

We accepted all this with open arms and took our first round ouster from the moot very positively. It was indeed a new beginning as we realized that mooting was just not all about ones brilliant research and crisp writing. 

The judge expected you to know the case inside out. He expected the mooter to discuss things and not just rush with them, as is the tendency with most of the mooters in India. It was more about asserting and less of arguing. It was not about fighting with the judge to make him realize that what he thought was incorrect. Rather, it was all about sweetly convincing him that why and how exactly what the mooter conveyed was correct. 

The two finalists team, i.e. the LSE and the NUS, out of which the former emerged winners had almost the same things and arguments just like ours. There lied immense amount of patience, skill and maturity in their way of presentation and arguing. They did not make the whole atmosphere too serious or sentimental. They respectfully smiled at important junctures and were extremely courteous in court room mannerism. Small things like not showing your nervousness on your faces also made huge amount of difference. All this helped them in connecting with the judges. The mooters did not appear to the judges as aliens or enemies of justice in the courtroom. All in all, watching them moot was a learning and pleasing experience altogether. 

The three days stay at Oxford ended with the end of the moot. We visited a few historical places like the Oxford Castle, bought some souvenirs and bid adieu to the County after having our brunch with a senior from college who was pursuing her Master’s over there. 

The excitement starting doubling up as we headed our way back to London. With the intellectual exercise over, it was time to have some fun. The next three days just took our breath away. For most of the time we were busy clicking snapshots of the every small and big beautiful places and things over there. The highlights of our excursion chronologically included the London Eye, the Madam Tussads Museum, the Piccadily Circus, a ship cruise on the Thames, the Buckingham Palace including the change of guards ceremony, the Big Ben, the Westminster Abby, the Trafalgar Square and not to forget the McDonald’s on the Bank of Thames, these being just the highlights. 

All these six days, three at Oxford and three at London were perhaps the most beautiful six days of my life ever. They acted as a tool of transformation. I regained my lost self confidence. It gave me an insight as to how far the world had reached, be it in terms of technology, educational advancement and the bountiful opportunities available at large. We had both personal and professional interactions with everyone. They were experts in their respective fields from around the world. We got to know of their opinion and perception about the standard of life in a third world country, the ample opportunities available across the globe after doing your graduation in law and so on. 

The conclusions which emerged out of the experience were pluralistic in nature. One should look forward to things which make him/her happy and satisfied. It’s about giving your hundred percent to all such activities which you inherently enjoy working on and simultaneously working on the areas where you lack proficiency. In my personal case, I guess it was the activity of mooting. Since then, I have been associated with few more intra moots and national moot court competitions. Everytime I work for a moot, the amount of work satisfaction and pleasure it gives cannot be compared to anything else in the world. 

From 25th January 2011 to 17th March 2013, two years, one month and exactly twenty days have passed. I am no more that fearful and apprehensive kid which I was when I entered law school. 

The essence of your five years stay here lies in the fact that every opportunity, howsoever big or small it may appear should be welcomed with open arms and high positive spirits. It might appear to you as the most dauntless task of your life, but it’s all about starting with it as it all becomes easy after that. This is the lesson which I learnt out this small but important learning experience. 

You never know, where it might lead you. Just like in our case, with the blessings of the Almighty and good wishes of our parents, our seniors, our friends and our faculty it led us to Oxford, I hope this post inspires every single soul on earth including myself that similarly some day we’ll make it to bigger places like Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and so on. 

Life is not just all about the GPA you score at the end of every semester. A very low one would not bring it to an end and an extremely exceptional one would not give you all the happiness in life. Winning and losing are just two sides of the game. Or to end it with the words of the legendary Boris Becker, 

“I like the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play”. 

The author can be reached here.

No comments:

Post a Comment