Welcome back, to the first day of Semester Two, to the start of a brand new year.

Looking back, 2011 has been nothing short of tremendous.

For starters, you have survived yet another semester in Law School. To the Year Ones: congratulations on making through the first. Everything is probably going to go downhill from now, well, everything except the amount of readings, which will increase exponentially. To everyone else: congratulations on making through yet another semester. Everything is probably going to be better from now; you’ve just overcome the toughest/most challenging/most difficult semester which probably was the nadir of your life in Law School.

2011 was a year where Many Things Happened. General Elections, the Eurozone Crisis, deaths of Osama bin Laden, Moammar Gadhafi and Kim Jong Il, to list a few. The Circle Line opened, and going to school now is literally a walk in the park.When before, The Summit was associated with bland, overly-oily or less-than-palatable food, patrons now have something sweet to feast on—and we’re not talking about the fruit juice stall, but eye candy in the form of the ladies who took over the Management of the canteen. Most significantly, Professor Tan Cheng Han stepped down as the Dean of NUS Law, with Professor Simon Chesterman taking over the reign.

Change is the only constant.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Change is unpredictable.

We live in uncertain times. The MRT might break down on your way to school. You could be short on money to pay for the taxi-fare. The heavens may decide to be over-zealous with showers of blessings, or perhaps throw in a thunderous orchestra, coupled with lighting effects. Flooding might occur, although ponding would almost certainly take place in the Botanical Gardens. You may bemoan the beckoning of the end of the world (#firstworldproblem). This is 2012 after all. The 2012 phenomenon, according to Wikipedia, “comprises a range of eschatological beliefs according to which cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21, 2012”.

This has, of course, been rubbished by experts.

However, take a moment to consider if Today Was Your Last Day. That the world would end before Christmas comes around this year.

How would you live (the remaining) of 2012?

Perhaps, you may be roaring to start studying again. You are eager to return to your corner in CJ Koh Library, all ready to wrestle your territory from the dust bunnies which had been breeding in the space you vacated for the entire month of December.

Perhaps, you may be disappointed with your grades last semester. The prospect of another semester of slogging hard but not getting the desired returns might trigger a sense of ennui. You feel jaded already. You feel apprehensive about the new term. You might be questioning whether this path is the right one for you.

In his last email sent as Dean, Professor Tan took the “opportunity to wish all of you much happiness and fulfillment in the year to come. May you also find your place in this world and fulfillment in what life lays out for you.”

Do you daresay that you are happy, contented or happy?

“Life is full of ups and downs. Life is full of disappointments, and of course, life is full of pleasures as well. One can only hope that there are more pleasures than there are disappointments. There are definitely going to be times where you are going to feel down, when you feel discouraged. You are going to wonder whether you made the right decisions, or whether you chose the right path. Whatever it is, however you feel, the most important thing is not to give up and to understand that you are not running a 100m race. You are running an ultra-marathon. Therefore, it is long haul and if you did not make any mistake in the course of this long haul, you must be leading some sort of strange, unnatural life. If you have not come across any difficulties, if you felt that you have not made any mistakes, maybe then you are a strange person, you might have been making mistakes but not realizing it at the same time. So it is natural to make mistakes, the important thing about making mistakes and being disappointed at the outcome is that you understand that you made a mistake and therefore it is a learning point for you, or a springboard to the future. It is the people who don’t realize that they are making mistakes are the one who never grew and will never ultimately fulfil their potential.”

These are the wise, last words Professor Tan has for all of us at NUS Law.*

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Life is more than just working hard to get the grades. For this new semester, step out of your comfort zone. Speak up in your tutorial group. Change your studying method; move to a new position in the library.  Join a student club. Pick up a new sport. Trash Medicine in Law-Med this year**.  Try the new stall at The Summit. Check out new food places***. Have a reasonable amount of fun in, and out of, School.

Maybe Armageddon might not happen. Anyhow, there is still three hundred over days till December 21st.

Till then, there is your entire life right there in front of you.

It is a brand new year, the start of a new semester.

Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.

Live, like it is the end of the world.

Have a nice day!

*We at Law Annual were certainly not very contented with what was possibly the shortest email Professor Tan had sent out to the student body, and had the honour of interviewing him! We also had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the new Dean Professor Simon Chesterman. Stay tuned, for these articles to be published in the upcoming weeks!

**The schedules for Law-Med are out. Law Annual will be covering this annual showdown; do check out Just-Happened as we give our rivals a taste of their own Medicine.

***Just-In Cases will have more lifestyle reviews – get ready to know more places to eat, shop and enjoy life!

Article contributed by Jolene Ng (Law 2).