As an undergraduate student at Leeds Law School – you will have the opportunity to study abroad for a year. We work with universities around the world whose staff will continue to nurture and support you as you embark on a sandwich year.
Studying abroad provides an exciting opportunity for you to not only learn about different legal systems and practises - but to immerse yourself in another culture and enrich your travelling experiences, all the while contributing to your academic and personal development.
There are also a number of funding options which you may be entitled to - from maintenance loans to potential travel grants. Find out more.
Semester one and two
I've had some incredible experiences from being on exchange at Victoria University, including being able to explore a new country, making new friends, eating out lots and spending a lot of time at the beach.
On the academic side it has made me feel smarter, more capable of learning, as well as challenging myself a lot more. Having an abundance of choice of units to study is amazing, it’s the academic equivalent of a Pick 'n' Mix. It does however mean that picking the right combination is all the more important. But if you put the time in to choosing the right units you can study an unbelievably diverse amount of topics. In just two semesters I covered Introductory Statistics, Economics, World History, Political Science, Jurisprudence, Campaign Management/Marketing, and then built on the Introductory Stats and Economics to study Financial Econometrics and Risk Management Modelling. At times it has been full on, but it's been absolutely worth it.
In semester one I gave myself a lighter load by not taking too many intense subjects as I wanted to go out and explore whilst making the most of the academic opportunities. None of my subjects were law based and I found them extremely helpful in developing my legal reasoning. Not only because of the analytical and research skills required but because of the enriched understanding they have given me of the context in which law is applied, and I feel this strengthens any training contract applications I make.
In semester two I decided to up my game and really challenge myself. Financial Econometrics and Risk Modelling ensure any time not spent at the beach or watching Aussie rules footy (pick a team and go watch it as it is the craziest, most exciting sport in the world) is spent looking at spreadsheets, no fun right? Wrong. FinEm is fascinating and I’m sure Risk Modelling will save me a fortune one day. Being on exchange gives you the opportunity to try new subjects that you may love, with the bonus that if you hate it you can swap it pretty quickly!
Top tips for finding somewhere to stay
Before you get there definitely research the area you want to live, consider whether you want the city lifestyle, lazy days on the beach, or bohemian coffee shops. I've lived in four different places since arriving, when I first arrived I booked somewhere on Air BnB for a few days whilst I found somewhere more permanent. It was a little house-share in Flemington, an inner-suburb on the north side, the place was fine and the people were nice enough but I really would have benefited from being in the city for the first few days to properly find my bearings. I then moved into a room-share in the city for six weeks, it was hilarious, the people were crazy and we had eight people from six countries living in a little flat on Flinders Street (the equivalent of Covent Garden). While living in the room-share was great it’s not for everyone and I wouldn’t recommend it to those who like their personal space or things being super tidy, but if you can bare the mess and noise, it really is worth it for the laughs!
Six weeks passed in a flash and it was time for something a little less crazy, and so I found myself in a flat in back on the north side. It was pretty cheap and it was great to have some personal space back, I stayed until Christmas and it was nice enough, but I often found myself just staying in because there wasn’t much to do nearby, and the travel links weren’t amazing (unlike most of Melbourne which has the best public transport). When I came back from Christmas I decided to splash out a little more and move to Middle Park on the south side, as such I’m currently on my sofa, two minutes from the beach, 15 minutes from the city and five minutes from St Kilda (look it up). It’s true what they say: location, location, location. I now seldom find myself without something to do, have a garden with a BBQ, and go for a swim most days. Everybody’s different though, so take your time and research the suburbs that will best suit you, and don’t immediately rush into student accommodation. If you’re happy to move about a bit and maybe travel a little lighter, you can save yourself a fortune and live somewhere more suited to you.
Settling into life in Melbourne
Honestly, the first few days can be quite scary, I arrived in Melbourne and realised I didn’t know the place or anyone around, I was late for my first lecture and even sat down in the wrong building, however all of sudden it becomes your home. Everything was new and scary but that was so exciting, the streets and buildings were huge but everyone was really friendly.
You soon learn where everything is, from food and drink shopping, to buying an umbrella as Australia isn’t sunny all the time, who knew?! After a couple of weeks, you truly settle in, and Melbourne became one of the best places I’ve ever been.
Travelling while in Australia
Shortly after I arrived I decided to go on the trip to Lorne to meet other students at Victoria University. This was a weekend of activities including surfing, I quickly decided that sitting on the board was a lot more fun than standing as I got to chat to lots of people. This weekend was great as I met two girls that I would end up spending the next five months with. We also went along the Great Ocean Road on the last day.
At the end of September, I had a week off. My friends and I decided to fly to Brisbane and drive up the East Coast of Australia to Cairns. This was probably a couple of the best weeks of my life. We went to Brisbane, Fraser Island, Whitsunday Islands, Mission beach and finally Cairns. If you choose to go to Australia (or any country), make sure you travel outside of where your university is based. This extra year of university in Melbourne gave me the opportunity to go and travel to all these places I’d always seen pictures of and wished to go.
Favourite part about studying abroad
My favourite part has to be meeting people from different countries. I found Australians to be very friendly, they’re all quite outgoing and wanted to make friends with strangers which was really nice being in a new environment. I got to go to mixers with other international students, and it was so interesting becoming friends with people with different ways of life and definitely different humours.
Moving away for a year is a scary decision, and there will be times that feel hard because you are away from home but you learn to adapt to a new country and make a new life on your own, and taking this journey made me feel proud of myself that I took a big step and achieved something. It will be the best decision of your life, Leeds will still be there when you get home and the whole thing goes so fast.
You will 100% not regret doing a year abroad (trust me, my friends are wishing they had done the same), but you could easily regret it if you don’t.
Experience as a Victoria University student
Throughout term Victoria University did social events for the international students, which was a great way to experience Melbourne and meet new people. The end of term cruise in October 2016 was actually one of my best nights in Melbourne. I felt lucky that the university planned so many times for me to branch out of my social circle and meet new people.
Victoria University compared to Leeds Beckett really isn’t all that different. The law lectures are two hours but the seminars are only one hour. The teaching is quite a similar routine; you have readings and questions to do for each seminar as you do back home. One thing Victoria University seemed to pride themselves on was the “chilled vibe” they had at university, they made it clear they wanted you to call your lecturers by their first names etc. It is all very similar as to back home really.
I feel from this experience I will be much better equipped to go into any job, knowing that I can adapt easily to other people and other places. This has allowed me to study more subjects too e.g. Irish History, Criminal law two, Family law, Legal theory. There are subjects that I will not be doing next year due to doing CILEX qualification instead so I saw this as a perfect opportunity as an extra year to study those different modules.
Overall, Victoria University is a great university to have done an exchange year at.
Upon arriving in Australia, my first and most obvious concern was fitting into life at a new university, making friends and immersing myself into a new and exciting culture. I decided that my best bet in doing this successfully was to throw myself into as many experiences and opportunities as I could before semester started, so that I could explore my surroundings and meet new friends.
So, with this in mind, I booked a three day trip to Lorne with the international team, and celebrated my birthday there learning how to surf, (even in winter!), how to appreciate ocean awareness, and meeting the local wildlife. On my way back from Lorne I also drove along the historic Great Ocean Road, stopping at popular sites along the way (Bell’s beach, the 12 Apostles, London Bridge etc – all of which were truly stunning). I found that by going on this trip I was able to meet many new people from different walks of life, many of which were international students like myself, and who were all feeling the same nerves and excitement as I was. I would definitely recommend taking a little trip like this (which was organised by Victoria University) before teaching begins, I found myself a lot more relaxed after the visit and began to see myself being able to live here for a year, and I definitely made some great friends there.
Starting University at Victoria: Semester one
I definitely found myself worried about settling into a new University. I found myself stressing about meeting new teachers, not being able to find my campus, grasping new teaching methods, and delving into new subjects I had not before learned. Surprisingly, I found the switch from learning British law to Australian law to be pretty straight-forward, and I also found that my teachers were very understanding of the fact that I was an international student studying new subjects – their welcoming and reassuring attitude definitely boosted my confidence as I began learning. I wanted to come to Australia to gain a better understanding of how English helped shape another countries legal system, and throughout semester one I definitely achieved this goal.
How studying abroad is benefiting me academically
I definitely think that studying a year overseas has changed the way I write, grasp information, and has helped me see that I can achieve more than what I used to think I could achieve. Learning new subjects alongside my law units has also been incredibly helpful in advancing my writing skills. Studying Sociology, History and Criminal Justice modules has helped me see the contrast between different styles of writing compared to legal studies. I’m definitely looking forward to having the upper hand in terms of international legal knowledge when studying Law again in the UK, especially when choosing my third year modules.
How studying abroad is benefiting my personal development
For me, this has definitely been the biggest change. I am fully aware of how much I have grown since arriving here last July, and that is definitely exciting to see. I am much more confident in my ability to look after myself, solve problems efficiently, and more importantly plan for my future. Seeing parts of the world I have not before seen has allowed me to open my eyes in realising just how many opportunities are out there, and now having and sharing this knowledge is truly inspirational. I really do think that studying abroad is an experience that cannot just be read about to be understood – it is a personal journey of global exploration and understanding that you just have to experience firsthand! I can truly say that I am proud of the things I have accomplished since arriving in Australia, I have learned so much about myself, other cultures, and have made friends that I know I will have for a lifetime – don’t miss out!
My top tips for studying abroad
Although the transition from living and studying in England to living on the other side of the world was surprisingly easy, I do still have tips for making the first couple of weeks a little less stressful:
- Accept that you CANNOT plan every tiny detail before you leave! – This was a biggie for me. By all means, plan as much as you can and don’t leave everything until the last minute, but try not to stress about smaller details and accept that some things you just have to sort out when you get there! (I.e. new phone number, opening a bank account etc).
- Take every opportunity to try to make new friends – Making good friends will make your time so much more enjoyable, and at times when you may get homesick, good support will go a long way.
- Take the opportunity to do things you might not normally do – Whether it is skydiving, kayaking, or simply just choosing a new and exciting module that interests you, studying abroad is the perfect time to try out new and exciting things and really boost your confidence.
- Try to stay positive – There is no guarantee that every little detail is going to go according to plan, you may feel homesick from time to time, or may just experience some hiccups along the way. It is important to try to stay positive at times like these and remember that you have the support to solve any issue you may face.
- Be open to change – Start your exchange with an open mind and a willingness to adapt to a new environment.