As part of the LLB English and European Law programme, students choose from a list of European universities in which they would like to spend the third year of their degree. Erasmus students are given the opportunity to venture out into a new country, have a reduced workload and maybe even learn a new language. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of students who opt for this say it is by far and away the best year of their degree. I will take you through a whistle-stop tour of various aspects of the year abroad and how they compare to student experiences in the UK.
6 June 2016
As mentioned above, Erasmus students often are not required to take as many courses as regular students at their host university. In fact, they get a free pick of all of the legal (and sometimes some non-legal) subjects available at bachelors and masters level. As they have already studied law for two years by the time they leave, they often have a very strong idea of the areas they wish to go into after graduation and can use this broad offering to deepen their knowledge of and show interest in those areas.
This is often not possible in the UK, where the Solicitors Regulation Authority dictates the majority of the subjects students must study. This coupled with the fact that universities normally add their own mandatory subjects to the list means that two thirds of the degree is thrust upon you. As difficult as it is adapting to a new learning style, the freedom in choosing exactly what you wish to study is an unquestionable bonus!
Outside of the classroom, there are innumerable interesting people to meet. From locals with insider knowledge on the culture and on the best things to do and see, to other exchange students from far-flung corners of the world you have likely never heard of, Erasmus students are spoilt for choice. Student organisations and private companies alike offer nights out, trips to the country and other cities and fun activities to get to know each other. You will never have a more interesting or diverse group of friends!
The UK has a distinct advantage in this respect compared to most places on the continent. Depending on where you go, you will find there are far fewer opportunities to get involved in sports, societies and other activities organised by the university. You can of course participate in things outside of university but it might not be quite so convenient or adapted to your timetable. Perhaps not a deal breaker but something to bear in mind!
Sealing the deal is the fact that employers perceive a year abroad as a definite asset. The open-mindedness with regards to other cultures, the potential language skills and the independence and resilience required to rebuild a life for yourself far away from your loved ones are all contributing factors. It is then up to you to sell the experience well in your job applications!