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School of Law

From Queen Mary to Sorbonne

The Double Law Degree journey – First blog post by Nikoleta Konstantellou

Nikoleta Konstantellou in front of Paris Sorbonne University

In February 2020, I got accepted in the selective and unique double degree in English and French Law, run jointly by Queen Mary University of London and Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. After two formative and unforgettable years at Queen Mary University of London, as part of the double degree journey, I started my first semester in Paris, at Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne University, colloquially also identified as the Sorbonne Law School. When I first arrived in Paris, I still could not process this change about to unfold in my student career in terms of the legal system, educational environment, and everyday living. After having overcome the arguably challenging Parisian obstacle of finding an accommodation, I started the semester on September 2nd, with a mix of inspiring speeches and encouraging words by the directors of the double law degrees the International College of the Sorbonne Law School holds partnerships with.

The facade of the Paris Sorbonne University

This warm welcome was followed by a drink and food reception, where I had the chance to meet the interesting double degree students, who alongside the Queen Mary Sorbonne cohort, form the International Sorbonne Law School, known in French as the École Internationale de droit de la Sorbonne. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by bright law students, fluent in three or maybe more languages, from Spain, Italy, Germany and many other countries. In fact, those students with whom I met on that day would form a supporting social network for me, as we often made plans to hang out before or after class to study together or simply explore the lovely streets of Paris. This element of diversity in the student cohort of the International School of Law of the Sorbonne is undoubtedly multidimensional, encompassing a multitude of languages, nationalities and, most importantly, experiences. I was particularly proud to be a Greek national who studied French in school and still had the opportunity to test my limits and study in such reputable institutions recognising and valuing diversity, known for shaping and training young aspiring professionals in the legal field, especially in a post-Brexit European context.

However, it would be an omission not to develop on the event of studying in Paris alone. Studying under the French legal system is one thing, but getting out of class and realising you are still in the Latin Quarter, a breath away from the Luxembourg Gardens, the charming little alleys of Mouffetard Market, the youthful and artistic streets of Montparnasse and the gorgeous and inspiring libraries attributed to the Sorbonne heritage. It may be impossible to list the endless hidden beauties the both colourful and vivid city of Paris has to offer, yet the challenge always remains for all Sorbonne students to discover a different part of the city every day, to either relax in, dine at, study in or simply explore.

Students sitting on the ground in the yard of Paris Sorbonne University

This cultural appreciation of the Parisian student lifestyle is also coupled with the impressive resources of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, offering an array of different languages and sports to choose from to pursue alongside our studies. The Association of Queen Mary and Sorbonne Jurists, also known as the Association des Juristes Queen Mary Sorbonne (AJQS) remains at the heart of the double degree student life, offering socially and academically enriching events, allowing its students to discover new professional opportunities, as well as to network with and learn from established inspiring lawyers, thriving in their respective field.

What surprised me the most, was that even though all the students I embarked on this journey with came from completely different schools of thought and jurisdictions, we could still relate to one another profoundly, since such a massive change in the way we learn, are taught, attend classes and get evaluated, still remains a change, no matter which background you come from. Getting used to a more rigorous and supervised method of leaning, as well as becoming part of a more “hands on” and less independent educational environment certainly posed many challenges to us students, especially given the fact that French is not the native language of several students.

Yet those challenges made us realise how adaptive, resilient and focused a young, aspiring dually qualified lawyer has to be, in order to truly thrive in whichever environment they find themselves in. During the last three months, I have realised that progress is like a seed that is planted, which slowly turns into a flower that blossoms right under our noses, without us necessarily appreciating its presence or its impact. What I hope for the future that will certainly be a point of reference for my next blog post entry, is to check back on this tumultuous yet rewarding journey of growth as an English and French Law student and appreciate all the academic and life lessons I have learned during my time in Paris.



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