Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I am originally from Liverpool and lived there until I moved to Leeds for university. Of course I still go back during holidays but Leeds feels like a home now too. I went to the local comprehensive school and completed my GCSE’s and A levels before coming to university. I had always been involved in music and theatre before coming to university and had taken part in some productions in and out of school.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
Leeds appealed to me from about year 11 as my school seemed to have one or two sixth formers who ended up coming to Leeds every year. Law was always an option: I knew it would be a good career as it combined public speaking and advocacy with traditional analysis and understanding. When I attended the open day in year 12 the idea of a campus instantly appealed to me. Especially as it had a campus feel in a city which is quite distinct from other city universities. The course seemed to be interesting and the tutors were all friendly to speak to on the day. As well as this, the idea of being able to do a year abroad appealed to me. As well as this, the student union was brilliant so I instantly made Leeds my top choice.
What is it that made you passionate about your area of study?
I think before attending university I did not really know what made me passionate about the subject. I thought it would be interesting to look at the law through historical and social aspects. In addition, applying the law to the facts seemed like a good way to learn. It felt like having these fictional situations would make the course really interesting. I have become more passionate as I have studied. Now looking back I realised that my passion for law probably stems from my passion for politics and social reform. The idea of criticising areas of the law and looking at ways to improve it was a real attraction and it is a part I still enjoy today.
What did you think of your course – what aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
At first I had mixed feelings about my course. A lot of modules are compulsory and in first year there are no optional choices. Within the first few weeks I considered changing courses but I stuck with it and I am glad. There was one module I did not enjoy but the reality is that law is a broad subject and there will be things that you cover that you do not enjoy but other aspects were really good. I really enjoyed constitutional law in first year which had a political angle to it. It helped me to begin making analytical points which have helped me throughout university.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
I always wanted to and I've never really been a home bird. I enjoy the challenge of meeting new people in new places. I had met a few people who had lived abroad who had all encouraged me to do it and said it will be ‘the best experience of your life’. At the time it sounded clichéd but it still got me excited. The thought of being able to travel, meet people from all over the world, try new foods, and learn in a new environment all excited me. I think I was just ready for a change and a new challenge.
Where did you go?
I decided that I wanted to go to a country that did not have English as its first language so I could be challenged and try and learn a language. This left me with three options. Either Sweden, the Netherlands or Belgium. In the Netherlands I knew Amasterdam was a very cultural city, very different from the UK, very international and had great transport links. Therefore it seemed like the best place.
What did this involve? What did you study?
Whilst abroad I had to study law. All my modules were law or criminology based and taught in English. There was a limited range of options for international students but the choices were different to that at home. A lot of modules centred on european and international law, crime and justice in the Netherlands. One module looked at transnational crime. They were all very interesting and taught well.
I lived in the equivalent of student halls which are a bit different than what you get in the UK. It was good and I enjoyed it. It was very social and I would recommend it.
What did you most enjoy about your time studying abroad?
As I said before it sounds clichéd but I enjoyed everything. Even the work because it was so different and the way the Dutch organised themselves was so different that it was fascinating. Having the time and money through the Erasmus grant to travel through eastern europe was also a highlight. Also the Dutch holidays such as Carnival in February where the South of the Netherlands dress up and have street parties and King's Day where everyone dresses in orange and there are boat parades through the canals. The Dutch people were great and visiting lots of places in the Netherlands made me realise what a brilliant place it is to live. I can’t express how much I enjoyed the year.
What did you learn from the experience?
I am a much more confident and independent person and I feel that I am now able to adapt to any situation. I learnt some Dutch (although not as much as I had hoped) and I just learnt a lot about other cultures and people. In addition, the style of teaching there helped me with my analysis and my evaluation which will hopefully help with my final year grades.
Would you recommend study abroad to others? Why?
Yes. Yes. Yes. I hate to repeat what others have said but it is the best year of your life. There are so many reasons so I will list the main ones:
- It is a great break between second and third year to think of plans after university and build on your skillset as a person and for future work
- You will do things you have never done before, meet people who want to travel so you will always have someone to go places with, it forces you to take every opportunity you can
- It is a different style of teaching and it could help your grades by getting a different perspective on things
- You will meet friends from all over the world who you will be able to visit. I have already planned trips to Ireland, Spain and Australia for this year
- Just take the chance. It can be scary and daunting but it really is worth your time.