PART 1: BAR 1…THE ESSENTIALS
So you are probably moving back to Nigeria for Law school, or you have probably been here for a few months, getting ready to go to Bwari for your Bar Part 1 programme, welcome! I remember my first day at Law school in Nigeria, the chaos, the pushing, the noise. At the end of the day I was thankful I had spent some months in Nigeria before starting rather than the culture shock I would have received. Some people don’t have that opportunity; it’s straight from the airport then a one hour drive to Bwari. Oh for those of you who don’t know yet, that is where your Bar 1 programme takes place.
The law school programme for foreign students is in two parts; Bar Part 1 is like a welcome package, a 3 month course to settle you in before the gruesome Bar Part 2.
Here are some tips I wish I was given, I hope it helps:
- Register Late: I know this sounds weird, but believe me everybody is thinking what you are thinking, “if I get there early, I will finish early”. Lies! The crowds in the morning cannot be imagined. On the first day of registration I was there early in the morning, the crowd was unbelievable. I ended up sitting down doing nothing till about 3 then I went back home. I came back the next day at about 3 in the afternoon and my registration was so fast, the place was almost empty. This trick got me through Bar 2 registration and clearing…come late!
- Come with someone on the first day: Bring a friend, definitely someone who is a trooper, not someone who complains. They will help reduce the loneliness of the first day, that is, if you’re not one of the popular ones who knows at least one person. They will help with tidying up your room, unpacking, looking around and then when you settle you can bid them goodbye.
- It’s really not that bad! It really is not as bad as you may imagine. I know what I imagined and to be honest it is actually okay. Get porters to help you with everything. You have to adapt to environmental conditions quickly and form a niche for yourself (advice from my friend).
- Ground or Top floor only: Now this one is a myth, but I will share it nonetheless. The hostel rumour is that light is usually given more to the top and ground floor only and when there is a miracle the ground floor sometimes has running water. It’s also cooler on the top floor.
- Haggle haggle haggle! On my first day my ajebo roommate and I thought we had priced well when we were giving our porter N8500 a month, only to find out that some people were paying theirs N2500, and I even felt sorry for her by the time I had priced it to N8500, imagine! Haggle people! They know how we are so everything has doubled, or even tripled in price.
- Join societies: This one should actually be at the top, but please join societies. There are many societies to choose from, so ask and join! Network! Nigerians doubt the power of networking, it may mean nothing at this stage but you will be very surprised. Bwari can get boring; this will give you the opportunity to keep yourself busy because they always have events planned. I was in the Bwari Child Foundation and the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation and I enjoyed every minute of it.
- Pay before you come! Pay your school fees before you come, just bring the slip (blue slip) it will save you a tedious process of going to the small bank in Law school.
- Dress code: there is going to be another post on dress code, but just be warned, they have judged you before you arrive. White and black is the colour you will grow to love. The men usually never have any problem, who can mess up a white shirt and black trousers. The ladies on the other hand! I cannot count how many times I was sent back; “your skirt is too pencil, the shirt has too many ruffles, go and remove your earring”. God help you if you are held back on a day they are broke, hungry or upset, today is your day. The rules are not really explained but I survived with many white camisoles long pencil skirts and a decent blazer. Also be prepared to be checked by uniform men sometimes. It can get pretty annoying.
- Exams: they shocked me a little bit but I was able to adapt. You cannot take statutes inside by the way, so if you’re not in the habit of cramming cases and sections, familiarise yourself. Bar 1 is relatively easy, Bar 2 on the other hand is game time.
- Some essentials: Bring wellington boots if you can, it can get muddy walking to get food, thick slippers with a good grip, a high powered torchlight and adaptor. Panadol and anti-malaria medicine will go a long way; the hospital is not really the best. The rest can honestly be hustled out in Bwari, there’s no need bringing load, I just wish I had those.
- ‘Making new friends’ While in law school I consciously made efforts to make new friends. Meeting different people with different ideas is very important, it broadens your horizon about life. However, old friends shouldn’t be neglected and new friends shouldn’t be made in a hurry. (advice from a friend)
- Remember…law school is not fair! Don’t expect it to be fair, they will annoy you, pick on you, maybe even insult your accent, just try and enjoy it, believe me to your surprise, you will end up missing it. So make the right friends, be serious, but still have fun, and enjoy the wild ride.
So there you have it!
Enjoy the Ride
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