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Thoughts on Stress, Law, and International Study from Yvonne Mao

“I am glad that the stress levels from my job as an Energy Management Consultant is manageable. Most of the time it is “good stress” which has pushed me to complete the projects or achieve new goals. However, I do have moments feeling overwhelmed, especially when I am taking on a new project which I have had limited prior experience with. Fortunately, our team is very supportive every time I raise my hand. They all know that I am currently taking a law degree and often send warm hugs and words to make sure I am going through this well.

I came to Australia in 2016. I still vividly remember that I just fell in love with this country right away because you can do whatever you want to do without being judged or receiving unwanted comments. People here are very open-minded and respectful in general. However, moving to a new place without friends and family by your side is always tough. On top of that, the ways of doing things such as renting a place can be very different to how it is done in Taiwan. Luckily, people here are very kind so I have received a lot of help and advice when I need it.

Juggling my personal life, work and study hasn’t always been easy for me. I have created a general timetable to allocate my study, work and ‘me time’. At the start of the week, I will plan my study and other activities such as meeting up with friends or doing exercise. However, life can be hardly expected to happen in a way that we want. It is very important to be kind to yourself. It is okay if you cannot finish what you are supposed to do because you have to spend a bit more time doing something that’s on an ad hoc basis.

I have to say I was very overwhelmed when I just started my law study. In my 6 years of engineering training, everything is pretty much straight forward without discretion – meaning “it is what it is”, so you just need to understand it, and move on. However, with law, it is about understanding the facts and principles then discussing it. There is no exactly right or wrong answers; it is just about having logical statements.

Muay Thai has also really helped my mental health. Before I started to do Muay Thai, I often went for a run or walk in the morning or after my class/study. It is good to have a time to not think about work and study - just listen to my favourite playlist and enjoy the street view. I think it is a very important “freshening up process” that we all need to help us go through each day with a fresh mindset.”

Yvonne is a first year JD student, originally coming from a science background. She shares her unique perspective on the differences between the two disciplines, the way her rigorous lifestyle affects her mental health and how she mitigates this, and the experiences which many international students come across when studying in an unfamiliar environment.

Written by Ella Bindley

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