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CCLS in Paris

Clara Coleman (2017)

Clara Coleman was awarded a CCLS scholarship to study for an LLM in Energy and Natural Resources Law. She describes what it was like living and studying in Paris.

Clara Coleman

Why did you enrol on the course in Paris?

I wanted to improve my French speaking ability and live abroad for a year since I had never lived outside of the UK before (I am from Guernsey, Channel Islands). I love studying and didn’t feel ready to stop. Plus it’s nice to go deeper into a subject that you really love. QMUL does very well in the university rankings compared to other universities in the UK. But what confirmed it was the Energy department expertise. There are many teachers from top law firms, energy companies etc so I knew I would be getting the best quality teaching.

I received a scholarship from McDermott Will and Emery, in partnership with the Association Française des Juristes d'Entreprise (AFJE), named the Scholarship of the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS) to study the LLM. I was going to do the degree regardless of the scholarship because I was really taken with the course. However it definitely put me at ease with regards to my finances and gave confidence in my ability to do well in the postgraduate degree.

How did you react when you found out you had been offered the scholarship?

I was so overwhelmed that I cried! I really didn’t believe that I was capable of competing for the scholarship against such strong candidates on the LLM so it definitely increased my self-belief and my ability to do well. And it gave me an overall sense of relief in that I wouldn’t have to take out any loans. 

How did you tackle the scholarship application form?

I looked carefully at the questions asked of me. The main question was why I wanted to study the course and that related a lot to the personal statement that I wrote when I applied for the postgraduate degree. So I ran through all my points and gave examples of particular topics that I had read about ahead of the course which boosted my interest in the LLM; examples I used were the use of solar power in California, the debate on climate change and the controversy surrounding fracking.

How did Queen Mary support you when you first arrived in Paris? 

The 3 day induction period was very useful in that the Queen Mary team ran through lots of administrative issues relating to the course as well as wider problems we might experience in Paris such as financial support, setting up bank and phone accounts and finding accommodation. What was particularly useful was being put in contact with previous students who were able to link us with others and show us the more social side of Paris so you were never left on your own.

Was it easy to make friends? 

Very easy. Everyone on my course was extremely friendly and it was great learning about so many different cultures.

What did you think about your programme? 

I really enjoyed my field of study. I’ve always had an interest in energy and environmental issues so being able to understand the finer details of the industry was great. What was also very useful was that professors invited many guest speakers to teach on the programme which allowed us to get a fresh perspective of a topic and see the practical side of a subject. I was very happy, everyone was extremely supportive and very willing to give extra help if I need it. Not a bad word to say!

What did you enjoy most about the course? And what were the challenges? 

The course itself was probably the thing I enjoyed the most. The course was what I expected it to be and I was pleased that I was able to delve into such a wide range of topics that I had previously only read about in the news, but by the end could understand the legal, political and commercial elements in far more detail and felt very prepared for working life in this sphere.

One of the challenges was the cultural differences and adjusting to life in a new city. It’s never easy throwing yourself in at the deep end and living a new way of life. But it’s all the more rewarding when you can say you’ve lived abroad for a year and gained all the great memories along the way.

What’s it like being a postgraduate student in Paris? 

It is a very independent lifestyle. Parisians are very busy people and the course was very demanding so we all tended to find each other in the library with a coffee in hand late at night during busy periods. But it was very exciting too. Being able to see the Eiffel Tour outside your classroom window is always pretty exciting and I feel very fortunate to have lived in a city with so much to offer.

How would you describe Queen Mary in three words?

Challenging, supportive, rewarding.

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