It has taken me over three and a half years to get here, but I am finally working on my Master thesis. It is weird, because the past years professors and students have told me constantly to prepare for this time. Whenever an interesting subject came up, I was supposed to jot it down so picking a subject would be easier.
It was still hell. A lot of subjects have already been discussed endlessly and specific problems have been discussed to little for a student to say very interesting things about. After thinking about it a lot, I remembered the introduction of a new law that had seemed significant to me at the time: a new law that in a sense introduces animal rights. I could write about how that would alter criminal law.
Except… that is far too vague and practically impossible to investigate exhaustively. After a quick talk with a professor, it turned out I should focus on a few specific aspects, like the legality. That made me also focus on a general provision that unclearly defines a general responsibility to care for all animals. Now that I have started talking with my Professor-Advisor, I have found that I need to focus more on this general responsibility. At the moment I have to change, based on his comments, the introduction and planning I had made. I am having a little bit of trouble with it at the moment because… well, if I knew exactly why I was having trouble with it, I would have already fixed the problem.
The thing is, nobody has ever taught me how to research and write a full thesis. I had some practice with the Bachelor thesis, but that was hardly filled with instructions and not all of the skills are fully transferable. But the more I am planning this massive body of text, the more I am able to cut it up in pieces that I am experienced in writing. I want to know about what kind of behavior becomes criminal according to a certain provision? No idea how to do that. Figuring out whether certain behavior X is criminal… that is Law School 101. So, simply generating a different amount behaviors is the difference between unable to answer a question and being completely familiar in answering it.
I cannot shake the feeling though that I keep having to reinvent the wheel and that a lot more could have been done to show us how to do all this. Then again, that is probably what every student thinks about every situation. If it was supposed to be that easy, there would be a lot more lawyers around.