How studying abroad helped me in the Student Law Office

In September 2018, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to study, for a semester, at Charles University in Prague. This unique opportunity has undoubtedly helped me in the Student Law Office as well as in my personal development.

Since starting university, I have always aspired to study abroad due to my passion for travelling to different countries and experiencing new cultures. I chose Prague because of its reputation for cost-effective living  (a beer could cost less than £1) and because of its central location in Europe, which meant it was perfect to travel to numerous European cities. Its baroque buildings and old town square also won me over as they provide Prague with the most picturesque setting.

As I arrived in September, I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of the September sun in the hidden green parks, along the river or in the numerous beer gardens before the harsh, cold and snowy winter set in. Aside from its famously cheap beer, Prague’s bars were really unique; there were underground bars, rooftop bars, bars with dogs in and even anonymous bars with secret menus. However, the most challenging part of living in Prague was trying to conquer the Czech language. I had to complete a three-week intensive Czech language course which was taught in complete Czech which was the most difficult experience ever. My determination to succeed and working within an international team helped to drive me through this course.

prague

My study abroad module was the biggest module of fourth year, so the actual studying was very important. However, studying in Prague was a completely different experience to studying at Northumbria. Charles University was founded in 1348 making it the oldest university in Central Europe. This historic theme was consistent with the Law faculty being a very old, grand and traditional building. The lectures were 90 minutes long whereas I was used to 50-minute lectures. There were only lectures and no seminars in Prague, which is extremely different from the autonomous interactive approach used in seminars and the Student Law Office at home. Being a more practical learner, I prefer the style of teaching at Northumbria. Nonetheless, I was able to adapt to a different teaching style, one which I know many of the students favoured.

Both minor and major differences in law worldwide has fundamental impacts on multi-national businesses. Therefore, studying different international laws has motivated me to apply to international commercial firms where I will hopefully get the chance to further my interest in different jurisdictions to help businesses.

I think that my experience of studying abroad in Prague has been invaluable in my work in the Student Law Office. Firstly, whether it was travelling, keeping on top of paperwork or getting to grips with public transport, organisation was key when studying abroad. This skill was transferred and used effectively during my time in the SLO. This includes keeping my personal file neatly organised, client files accurate and setting and meeting deadlines to ensure work for clients is done to the highest quality. As a whole, I would say the task of having to navigate these different aspects of living abroad naturally developed my time management skills, this has been invaluable in the SLO where good time management is essential to proving a good service to clients.

Secondly, all six members of my firm also studied abroad in Prague, Olomouc in the Czech Republic or Aarhus in Denmark. We all had this study abroad experience in common which allowed us to work collaboratively in our firm. Having a semester less than the other firms in the SLO and clients waiting for us, we knew we had to learn quickly. We all worked efficiently in our firm to help each other out to ensure we delivered an exceptionally high quality service to our clients.

Overall, my fourth-year experience at university has been extremely different from my previous three years due to studying abroad and SLO. I have been lucky enough to study and live in Prague as well as to and help real clients overcome legal problems to drive their businesses forward. Studying abroad has both complemented the skills I have developed in the SLO whilst giving me the opportunity to interact with the law in a different manner.

steph

 This blog post was written by Stephanie Tones, a final year MLaw student at Northumbria University. She is currently working in a Business & Commercial firm in the Student Law Office. After graduation, Stephanie hopes to secure a training contract in a commercial law firm. Stephanie enjoys travelling and hopes to visit the Philippines, Australia and Sri Lanka.