As there are a wide range of choices within the BCL (International) Program for your exchange year, it can be hard to choose where to go. However, having chosen to study in the University of Leiden, the Netherlands for the year, I never looked back.
The university is the oldest in the Netherlands, and has since 1575 been a centre for learning and innovation. The law school has over the years both grown and gained an excellent reputation in a number of fields. As a result, the class choices and standard of teaching are phenomenal. I have had the opportunity to study everything from Aerospace Law to Bankruptcy Law to Economic Policy in the EU. As all the modules are worth five credits, you can study a far greater variety of subjects, many of which you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do. The lectures are experts in their fields and not only ensure that all the material is current but they link everyday situations into the theoretical aspects of your subjects, thus making it more approachable. Furthermore the interactive teaching method in the university means you get to participate in the classes, and consequently cover the areas that truly interest you. Not only are you challenged, but you are given the room to really explore your legal interests.
The international student community is very active and there are ample opportunities to meet the huge number of exchange students who come to Leiden every year to carry out undergraduate courses or master programmes. There are also numerous clubs, which give you the chance to make the most out of your time in Leiden, while meet people from all around the world. As the Law exchange program is so prestigious, there are a wide range of students from all over the world who participate. So, through your year abroad, you get to literally meet people from all over the world.
Leiden itself is a beautiful town in the centre of the Netherlands. The town has numerous museums, shops and an active student body, so there is always something to do. Canals line the roads and windmills are dotted around the town, so cycling around feels like you are going through a postcard. Everything, from Amsterdam to The Hague, the Peace Palace to the ICC, is within a half hour train journey. As a result, during my time I have had the opportunity to go hearings of the ICC and have a front seat to current international cases. It is also ideally placed if you intend to travel through Europe as most of the major European cities are a short distance away and getting to them is quite easy thanks to the effective Dutch transport systems.
I have yet to encounter an unfriendly Dutch person or a person who cannot speak English, which means that your transition to the Netherlands will be as smooth as possible. Not only have I been able to pick my own subjects, I have been able to expand my horizons, meet new people and travel – what more could you ask for?
BCL (International) III