My semester abroad during the fifth year of my dual Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws degree was, to use a hackneyed cliché, an unforgettable experience. The interesting students from all corners of the globe, the cadre of world-class visiting and tenured lecturers and the opportunities afforded for travel while in Germany, thanks to the central location of Hamburg, together mean that I can recommend in the strongest terms undertaking an exchange at the Bucerius Law School.

I would however point out one thing vis-à-vis travel while over there: I do not recommend taking the train from Germany to Poland. While the less than blistering pace was to be expected - how else could it take 13 hours to get to Cracow? - the unscheduled stops in the middle of nowhere, presumably organised so as to allow us a more interactive experience with the Polish countryside than would otherwise have been the case, and not at all due to the Techniczne kwesti which were constantly mentioned over the loudspeakers, became less enjoyable after the sixth unexpected break in our journey. Also, if you ignore that advice and catch the train anyway, beware the compulsory seat reservation. The moment we crossed the Oder and had a change of personnel it was suddenly required that everyone have such a thing, which was news to all of us. The German man behind me kicked up a mighty stink, but eventually had to give in to the demands of the guards. He was even more displeased to discover that, though the reservation cost six Euros when bought on the train, the stated price was three Euros on the printed receipt. Make of that what you will.

I also recommend signing up for the optional tour to Berlin. About half the exchange group went in my year, the tour itself being an interesting mix of sightseeing, museum visits, lectures and bar/club outings. Only the first three were organised by the law school. The best organised event of the trip was a talk with Hans-Ulrich Klose, an SPD member of the German Parliament in a conference room of the Bundestag itself. He was incredibly interesting - the sort of person we wish all politicians were like - discussing everything from the implications of the expansion of the Eurasian Economic Community for regional security; the European Debt Saving Legislation; European Trade Relations and the role of Germany as the economic supporter of the European Project. All this while still being able to say that Helmut Kohl was the last European 'Leader', and that Chancellor Merkel's approach to problem solving was one he fully agreed with - keep in mind he is from a different party to both these figures.

Herr Klose is 74 years old. Between him and the 75 year old American woman from Georgia I met in the hostel in Vilnius, I think we might have to amend the saying to, 'Life begins at 70.' But an exchange at Bucerius is certainly a good place to start.
 

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