Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Bachelor of Science, 5th year
Bachelor of Laws (Hons)/Bachelor of Science, 5th year

Academic Experience

The International Program at Bucerius Law School is one of the best there is. Bucerius is a leading law school in Europe - the program gave us access to world-class lecturers from all backgrounds, engaging learning material, an International Office which were there to help us every step of the way (from visa applications to finding a place to live), so many opportunities to bond with our cohort and the other German students (through the buddy family program), and most importantly, brought me some of the best friends I have ever had. We studied in 7 week blocks with 4-5 subjects in each block. Most subjects related to European Union Law, Business and Corporate Law, and Comparative Law, but I also did lectures in Legal Ethics and Finance. Minimal studying is required - you were pretty sure to pass just by attending lectures and participating in class.

Personal Experience

With 92 students, 55 different institutions and 26 countries represented in our cohort, our exchange program was about as diverse as they come. Some of my closest friends hailed from America, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Spain, Belgium, France, and Australia, of course! Just being around my fellow colleagues was a major culture shock – our differences in language, education, background and life experiences made every conversation a learning experience. But at the end of the day, we found that despite our differences, we were able to grow unbelievably close in an unbelievably short amount of time. Exchange allowed us to share our cultures and our traditions with each other – some of my favourites include a Mexican feast cooked lovingly by our Mexican amigos, an All-American Thanksgiving dinner (I even successfully made my first pumpkin pie), and a traditional Christmas celebration with a German family. I must warn you before you embark on Exchange – you will meet life-long friends, people you consider as close to you as people you have known your entire life – and the hardest thing about the entire experience will be saying goodbye at the end. But on a happy note, you now have connections all over the world and wonderful friends to visit.

In my 7 month stint overseas, I was lucky enough to travel to 20 countries across 2 continents. Some travel highlights would definitely have to be – spending a week on a boat in Croatia with a bunch of crazy Aussies, island-hopping around Greece, attending music festivals and concerts in Berlin, experiencing a traditional Oktoberfest in Munich (1L steins and lederhosen included), eating myself sick on pizza, pasta and gelato in Italy, checking out the canals and coffee shops in Amsterdam, riding camels in Morocco, eating tapas and drinking sangria in Madrid, keeping warm with Gluhwein at the Christmas Markets around Germany, ringing in the New Year in Budapest, witnessing the view from the top of the Swiss Alps, beholding the beauty of Bruges with a local Belgian, braving the snow in Sweden, and seeing the Pyramids in Egypt. The travel opportunities are truly endless in Europe. Hamburg is smack-bang in the middle of the continent and therefore a great place to jet set from and the airport is super easy to get to, and cheap last minute flights are available to pretty much anywhere (keep your eye on skyscanner.com), as well as buses and trains to countries nearby. The internationals travelled every opportunity we had, on weekends and during the mid-semester break, either as a group or venturing off on our own – I was lucky enough to find the perfect travel companion in an American friend and we had a ball discovering Europe together.

Accommodation

Even after a mind-blowing weekend away, there is nothing quite like coming home to Hamburg. It really did feel like a home away from home, almost immediately. I lived in a sublet apartment (as many other internationals chose to do) with a German roommate (who quickly became one of my closest friends) - this was all arranged through the International Office who paired up in-coming and out-going Exchange students to ensure we all had somewhere to live.

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, but still has a great community feel and there is always plenty to do. The public transport system is incredible, and while the weather leaves a lot to be desired (especially for an Aussie), it provides the perfect excuse to stay in and share drinks, food and conversation with your International buddies (which we did A LOT). You don’t need to speak German to get by, but you definitely will pick up a few helpful phrases from the locals. While you’re there, don’t forget to partake in some of the local rituals – go out on the Reeperbahn (Hamburg’s Red Light District) and stay out to watch the sunrise at the Fish Markt (Sunday morning farmer’s market at the Hamburg docks); drink beer and eat pork knuckle at the local Oktoberfest, attend a local soccer game – between experiencing Hamburg, travelling further a-field, studying (just a little bit), and bonding with your International chums, I promise you will never be bored.

Professional Development & Employability

My exchange experience was life-changing, eye-opening, character-building, horizon-broadening, dream-fulfilling – super clichéd I know, but there is no more accurate way to describe it. Upon entering my fifth and penultimate year of my double degree (Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Science), I felt I needed something to re-enliven my passion for the legal profession, something to give me a break from my crazy work/study timetable, something to bolster my resume, and most importantly, something to get me out of the comfort zone I’d been inhabiting for the past 5 years. My best option was to apply for Exchange, and nearly a year later, I found myself on a 7-month-long adventure of a lifetime. I returned from exchange more independent, mature, well-rounded, able to communicate and form relationships with all kinds of people and more willing to try new things and put myself in situations that only 7 months earlier would have terrified me.

Highlights

The highlight of my experience will always be the life-long friends I made.

Top Tips

If you are considering an exchange, but maybe you are apprehensive about being away from home for such a long period, or fearful of living in a country where you don’t speak the language, or worried about making ends meet, making the grades or making friends – DON’T BE. Exchange will be the best thing you ever do. It’ll change you. It’ll change your relationships. It’ll change how you act, think, feel about everything. It’ll change the course of your career and the course of your life. If it is possible for you to do an exchange during your degree, you really have no reason not to. The best experience of your life and the best friends you’ll ever have are out there waiting for you.

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