Sunday, September 24, 2017

My Summer Study Abroad

Published: October 01, 2015

This summer I was lucky enough to travel to both China and France through the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Study Abroad program.  The program consisted of 3 weeks in Hangzhou, China and 4 weeks in Nice, France.  While in China we were able to see and experience many things about the Chinese culture, most of which we were unaware of.  In the second week of the trip we travelled to Beijing and visited the Chinese Supreme Court, the Great Wall of China, and the Forbidden City.  It was quite an amazing experience because prior to visiting China, I had a very limited knowledge or perception of what life was like in China.  One aspect I really enjoyed in China was the fact that all students stayed in the same hotel and travelled to class together daily.  This is something that I did not grow to appreciate until I arrived in France and realized that everyone was spread out throughout Nice.  China is a communist country and as such, they limit the Internet.  This was a very frustrating aspect of our stay in China, however after a week or so, it did not matter.

After the China program, I flew to Chester, England.  Chester is a smaller city in England that I used to live in and I still have many friends who live there.  I was in Chester for two weeks and I had a chance to relax and enjoy spending some time with my friends before heading off to France.

I arrived in France the day before classes began and I was able to see some of the people who were in China with me and I was also able to meet some new classmates as well.  Classes in France were Monday through Thursday afternoon, which gave us three and a half day weekends.  During my first weekend in France I travelled to Marrakech, Morocco.  The second weekend, I joined some of my English friends in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  The third weekend, I went to Barcelona, Spain and Lisbon, Portugal.  During one of my extended layovers I was able to explore Geneva, Switzerland, which is a gorgeous city.  My favorite country of my trip would probably be Morocco.  Although I was a bit out of my comfort zone, Morocco was a beautiful country and everyone was extremely helpful and nice.   One of the most beneficial aspects of the France program was the fact that there are so many countries within a quick flight of Nice, coupled with the fact that we were only two miles from the airport and had three and a half day weekends.  The biggest negative of the France trip were the accommodations.   I stayed in a hotel/apartment style complex. First, our room was never cleaned by their cleaning service, even though they said they would do so every few days.  Secondly, there was only one key for our room, which made things difficult.  Thirdly, the rooms were very small, not uncommon for Europe, but space is needed in order to study for law school.  One thing I wish had been suggested to me was an idea that came to me in the middle of my France program.  If someone was planning on traveling during the weekend, which most students did, it would be wise to book separate accommodations Sunday-Thursday for the four weeks we were in Nice during the program and then normal hotels or AirBnb while we were travelling.  Instead, I paid for accommodations in Nice and while I was visiting the other countries, I still paid for my room in Nice and all the countries I travelled to.  I would have saved thousands of dollars if I had done this.

Pros

  1. Amazing experience whilst being able to travel the world and get course credits
  2. Networking experiences
  3. Made friends with people and was able to share experiences with them

Cons

  1. Accommodations in France were quite bad
  2. I had to jump through hoops to access the internet in China
  3. Hand written exams were unbearable

Overall, this summer program was a great experience.  Sometimes the program seemed a bit scattered and unorganized, but this did not bother me because I was able to travel to 10 different countries for the same price as going to summer school in San Diego. Also, I was able to take 8 credits all while travelling, which was a nice bonus to the whole program.   Although three months is a long time to be gone from home, the experiences and memories I gained far outweigh any negative aspect of the study abroad program.