Well, as you may have noticed from the brace of PolLaw Express blog posts covering all the daily news round-ups over this week – I am back from my holiday. Yes, I had to say goodbye to the beautiful city of Prague last Friday after a wonderful week of sun, cultural sightseeing and historical discoveries.
It was a very relaxing week, which reminded me of the importance of rejuvenating the proverbial body batteries and of the need to secure a healthy balance between work and enjoyment. It also served as a moment of revelation, as I had not been aware of just how much I had needed a break until I was actually on one.
I think the past year was certainly an intensive one for me. Uprooting myself to Iowa for the year and the emotional impact of that, besides adjusting to a new way of life on at a different college, with new faces and subjects was profound. Of course I enjoyed myself, but I cannot deny that it was initially daunting to contend with various differences, whether academic or cultural. I was heavily involved in student life, whether in my sorority, to volunteering and student organisations, as well as my wonderful internship in a downtown law firm. Essentially, I was always preoccupied with something to do: homework, exams, tests, student life in general. My final semester in the Spring was particularity gruelling, as I took two ‘writing intensive’ classes, meaning every other night I was writing papers. Many an all-nighter was to be endured, hence why my roommates took to nicknaming me as the resident bat. I suppose my body and mind were both simply recovering from a state of weariness last week.
In addition, during my holiday I limited my online presence. To be away from my laptop, and only using my iPhone sporadically to check my emails/Twitter to remain up to scratch on news and current affairs was truly an enjoyable break. Suffice to say, I do of course enjoy blogging, reading articles online etc. But it was lovely to be cut off from the internet and to relax with my family for a week.
I was able to visit the beautiful Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral – where I was entranced by several historical exhibitions covering the history of the Castle and mesmerised by the beauty of medieval architecture respectively – watch the parade by Prague Castle guards (in 36C and intense sunny weather), visit the Jewish Quarter and the brilliant Jewish museums and synagogues, stroll around the Old Town Square, admire artists and musicians on Charles Bridge… The list is endless. I had, quite simply, a marvellous time.
Whilst I was away in Prague, I was informed that I had passed the business report project required my university as an essential component of the Study USA scholarship programme which enabled me to study at Coe College in Iowa. This was pleasant news to receive, as it means that not only am I secure in the knowledge that I will graduate from the scholarship programme in October with the British Council NI, but I be awarded the Certificate in American Business Practice from my university – and gain my third Degree Plus award at the same time too.
My business report was on the topic of payday loan companies, and I assessed the situation in both the UK and the USA, whilst comparing the governing legislation in each jurisdiction. I essentially argued that reform was needed in both countries. Should you wish (because why ever not; I know that you are all secretly dying of anticipation right now) to read my report, you can do so via my e-portfolio here. I would love to hear what you think, and whether you have any comments/opinions on the topic to share.
I have also accumulated more books for my collection, and devised new blog post ideas – so keep your eyes peeled over the next few days.
May I take the opportunity to wax lyrical about a brilliant book entitled ‘The Battle for Europe’ by Mr Thomas Fazi? He carefully and in great, informative detail examines the Eurozone crisis which erupted in 2008, the role of European banks in the ongoing crisis and argues for banking reform, and the end to austerity. It has been my stalwart summer companion, and a great read. (Mr Fazi actually saw a tweet I made regarding his book yesterday, replying and favouriting it. I may or may not have been smiling about that for a good hour afterwards.)
I am also in the process of submitting applications to volunteer at local legal organisations in the coming academic year, browsing the QUB Part-time Courses catalogue which was delivered to the house yesterday (I have already earmarked two Troubles-related ones; one delves into politics and political violence, the other covers the legal aspect and examines high-profile cases) and impatiently awaiting news of my modular choices for my final year of my degree. (Is it really my final year? Dear goodness. Mayday.) Fingers – and toes – crossed that I am successfully placed in the modules of my choice, namely anything and everything constitutional/public/administrative.
Having rambled on a fair bit, I will now draw this update to a close – but not before I insist on enclosing some of my photographs from Prague. (I apparently consider myself an amateur’s amateur photographer.)
Adieu, and until the next time!