Nine Incredible Months

I spent nine months in Cork, nine incredible months. UCC campus is fantastic, like an American campus; big, green, with a lot of activities, concerts, meetings, charities, balls, parties…, a real campus spirit with societies and clubs that you can join. I personally join the tennis club. I went in Galway for a competition with them and have so much fun! There is a huge sportive centre with every sports you want whether you are a beginner or an advanced sportive.

As to the lectures, teachers are very approachable here when you need them; there is a much closer relationship between students and teacher than in France. They really want to help you succeed and feel good about yourself.

Cork itself is a very nice city, quite small but you have everything you need and the night life is really good, with a lot of Irish pubs, and night clubs. The only drawback is that it closes at 2am! The city is very charming; everything can be done by foot which is very nice. It is a very safe city with a very young population and very nice people, which makes you feel at home!

Ireland in general is an amazing country. I had the chance to come back in January with a car, and the second semester we traveled around the country and the landscape, the discovery of Irish people were extraordinary. Indeed Irish people are so nice, always smiling and happy, very welcoming and warming everywhere you go and always so helpful which is important when you arrived in a new city.

During this year I met a lot of other Erasmus people from all around Europe, but also American and Chinese. I find it so enriching to share this year with them, learn to know their culture…

To conclude it was a year of opening, of discovering Irish culture and European one. I really enjoyed Ireland and Cork thanks to its nice people, its joyful atmosphere and its incredible landscapes!


Flavie Labouche, Diploma in Common Law, 2010-2011

A Year in SLU

A little under two years ago, I sat staring at the application form for my year abroad. It stared back at me, offering a diverse array of universities and experiences which left me somewhat overwhelmed. With such a wide range of options it was difficult to know what continent to choose, let alone what university. I had always been drawn to the US and having met the students who studied at Saint Louis University in 2011-2012, I was strangely drawn to SLU and everything it seemed to offer. Now that I’m coming to the end of my time here, I know that I could not have made a better choice.

This year, SLU opened the doors of Scott Hall, its new, state-of-the-art law school at the heart of downtown St Louis. Located next door to the Civil Courts building, the US Court of Appeals and US Attorney’s Office (to name just a few), the new law school is ideally located to become an established part of the city’s legal community. The building itself is truly fantastic; with modern interior and the latest technology it boasts an air of professionalism and prestige. The top floor offers a beautiful pavilion overlooking the city where we happened to encounter judges of Missouri’s Court of Appeals one day. Having chatted to them briefly, we were invited to the judges’ chambers where we discussed and debated the state judicial system and then proceeded to watch their court docket in action. This is just one example that demonstrates the incredible benefits the new location has to offer.

The law school offers a broad array of subjects to satisfy every law student’s areas of interest. All subjects range from 1 to 3 points in credit value and this allows students to take numerous subjects over the two semesters. Personally, I have studied diverse legal areas ranging from education law to copyright law, health law to anti-trust law, elder law to international banking and finance law, amongst others. The options are endless and the professors are experts in their respective fields which is not only evident in the classroom but also in the form of extensive law review articles and national media attention. The interactive nature of the classroom gives students a deeper understanding of the material whilst also developing the pragmatic skills necessary for students to consider ever-changing legal developments. All students are treated as professionals and this facilitates a profound learning environment which allows students to reach their maximum potential.

A unique aspect that SLU has to offer that other universities cannot is its main campus. SLU is comprised of both a law school and an undergraduate university so students can reap the full rewards of the amenities and facilities SLU’s main campus has to offer such as restaurants, sports facilities, museums, libraries etc. Much like UCC, the university offers fantastic opportunities to meet new people through clubs and societies. This significantly helps with the transition abroad by allowing students to pursue their interests. Moreover, it provides the perfect platform for meeting new people and embracing all aspects of American life.

Outside of the university, the city has a lot to offer. St. Louis is often described as a “big-little city” with the best of both worlds; it’s large enough to keep you entertained but small enough for a passer-by to still say hello. Moving from the countryside in Kerry to a city of 320,000 people was pretty daunting but it truly was an easy transition given the welcoming mid-western hospitality. Restaurants, bars, theatres, sports stadiums, public parks – you name it, St. Louis has it. Not only is it a fantastic city in itself but it is also ideally located to allow travel to different states which has been a huge part of my time here.

In essence, I cannot really fit into one blog post the
benefits of my year abroad. I have broadened my horizons through traveling and experiencing different cultures, by immersing myself in everything the American experience has to offer. Moreover, the educational benefits have been incredible and they are unique to a programme like BCL International. Studying in a graduate law school in a different jurisdiction broadens a student’s mind to consider legal problems from a different approach, a different cultural view, a different system of law. Whilst every option offered in the BCL International boasts its own unique experience, I cannot imagine having a more rewarding or enjoyable experience than I have had here in St. Louis.


– Christopher Foley

BCL (International) 2011-2015

The Dutch Experience

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?


Amina Flynn,

BCL (International) III



A Humble Maturity – An Erasmus Year at the University of Copenhagen

Denmark is that country that you never really hear about, and Copenhagen is that city that not many people pay attention to. Honestly, three years ago I would have trouble finding this city on a map, that is, if I even cared to look for it in the first place. Surely, the university reflects the city in that sense right? I could not have been more wrong.

The University of Copenhagen is a top-ranked university for many reasons, yet their course variation deserves special attention, along with the experienced lecturers themselves. I chose the human rights/international law route, and got into every class I wanted. I learned ‘International Security Law’, from a lecturer who has worked in conjunction with an EU Counterterrorism team. I studied ‘The Law of Armed Conflict’, from a scholar who had served in the UN peace operations in former Yugoslavia. My ‘States of Emergency’ lecturer had to move class this past Thursday, because he was in Jerusalem, evaluating Israeli constitutional legitimacy amidst the ongoing conflict with Palestine. I’ll never forget, when my ‘Comparative Law’ lecturer joined two of us students for a coffee last term, as we discussed backlash fundamentalism against historic doctrines of Sharia Law in West Africa. If experienced lecturers are something you’re interested in, then the University of Copenhagen is for you.

Maybe the university’s human rights courses are not your thing though. They offer everything from ‘Media’ and ‘Sports Law’ to ‘Great Trials of Western Legal History’, where (as I’m told) you evaluate the jurisprudential flaws in the trial of Jesus and Cicero, among others. And if the lecturers in those classes are anything like that of my own, then those students could have expected practical experience from dedicated lecturers in their field.

I also had no idea just how international this university was. Every one of my classes this year must have had students from at least 510 different countries at any given moment. I am an American student, studying in Ireland, and on either side of me is a French guy and an Australian girl. All of us are learning from our Italian teacher, who completed his Bachelors in Switzerland, and his PhD in Canada. The eclectic diversity that the Erasmus program for Copenhagen offers only bolsters each and every in-class discussion we have.

For example, I am currently taking International Protection of Refugees, and when each student can highlight their own country’s response to refugee protection, it is easy to gain a wider grasp of the content as an international issue.

What I personally have learned to appreciate the most is the Danish Exam structure. The majority of classes require what is known as an ‘Oral Exam’. This means that you randomly select a question or topic and then have a one-to-one sit-down discussion with your lecturer and a 3rd party invigilator. You discuss the question for approximately 15 minutes, in a casual, stress-free setting. You are still obviously graded on how well you know the information, yet it is the most stress-free exam I have ever taken, and more often than not, students’ grades will reflect the relaxed situation in a positive way.

The transition between collegiate life and Danish life is quite seamless. Unlike UCC, the University of Copenhagen is split up all across the city. This means, that when I am invited by my lecturer to a discussion about Legal Cyber Warfare for example (which is surprisingly often) that you have the opportunity to get to know more aspects of the city. When I go to the Law Library, I walk past the beautiful Round Tower that overlooks all of Copenhagen. When I go to class, I pass by the bustling Stork Fountain, on one of the longest shopping streets in all of Europe. When a seminar takes me to the Danish Courthouse, I walk past the picturesque Copenhagen Canal, an image that never gets old. All of this is centrally located, in a city that boasts modernity as well as student life.

Cultural immersion is easier than I thought it would be. Student organizations are very helpful in this regard, and there are those specifically for Erasmus law students. With that group, I travelled all over Denmark, met some great friends, and made even better memories. This group helps you become accustomed to Danish culture, but even if you don’t join, it would not be that hard to fit in. I am yet to meet a Dane who does not speak fluent English. I am yet to meet a Dane who won’t help me find a library book. I am yet to meet a Dane who, even though I cannot pronounce their name, remembers me from class and won’t buy me a beer at the Law socials.

I titled this blog entry ‘A Humble Maturity’, because it perfectly describes this university as well as the city. The university does not brag about its top international ranking, how world-renowned its lecturers are, or how its small class sizes allow for an optimal learning environment. The city does not boast how it is one of the most modern, that it has some of the world’s lowest crime rates, or that it is ranked one of the happiest places to live in on earth. I would highly recommend this choice for anyone in the BCL (International) program, just don’t forget to bring your bike!

Garrett Mulrain

BCL (International) III


University College Cork

UCC LLM in International Human Rights and Public Policy

My name is Jessie Chappell, and I’m an attorney from St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States. I’m enrolled in the College of Business and Law at University College Cork, earning my LLM in International Human Rights and Public Policy. The LLM is a one year program designed to provide a strong and practical foundation in current Human Rights Law. It’s also an excellent opportunity to research potential careers in Human Rights. I am very happy with my decision to attend UCC, and would absolutely do it again.

This program includes taught modules, conferences on contemporary human rights issues, guest lectures from top practitioners, and a research dissertation. We have examined the evolution of human rights, and the challenges in implementing universal norms throughout diverse cultures. I found the critical approach especially helpful in seeing current gaps in human rights implementation, and how effective mechanisms can impact people’s lives. The first part of the course provides an overview of the foundations of current International Human Rights instruments and implementation, followed by more focused electives to suit individual academic interests. Each lecturer is active in his or her field and brings fascinating practical experience to put topics into a broader perspective. Individual modules also allow students to meet peers in other LLM and MA programs and hear their diverse experiences. Most courses are evaluated through essays, providing helpful feedback well before starting work on the dissertation, and allowing students to approach professors one on one.

Although I have only been in this program for six months, it has already surpassed my hopes. Every module brought in active practitioners to apply our academic reading and provide an insight into different careers. More specifically, the Clinic module is unique in focusing solely on practical skills and exposure to the most topical issues in human rights law and policy. For example, in my short time at UCC, we’ve met or Skyped with the current ICC Chief Prosecutor, the current Chief Justice of Ireland, the Head of the Secretariat at the Council of Europe: Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking, judges from multiple international criminal tribunals, the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, and multiple practitioners from organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the Irish Human Rights Commission. Each one of these lectures individually would justify moving to Ireland for the year, so hearing from them and many others has motivated me in a way academic research never had.

These speakers, and the readings assigned beforehand, have helped me make the most of each class meeting and develop efficient research skills. I have also gained invaluable firsthand insight into diverse working conditions and topics where more attention is needed. I have already gained a broader perspective in law than I expected, and each professor has given me the skills and foundation necessary to succeed professionally in the academic, public, or private sectors.


The city that never sleeps – an account of studying in Brooklyn Law School

If someone told me a year ago that I’d be writing this while looking out over the skyscrapers of Wall Street, sipping a slightly too hot coffee from my favourite coffee-shop,  after manoeuvring my way through the 9am runners in the Brooklyn Bridge Park – I would have  laughed out loud.

During my year at Brooklyn Law School I have been able to study a variety of subjects, complete my own research projects, and participate in numerous pro-bono clinics. It has been, by far, the best year of my undergraduate degree so far.

Brooklyn Law School offers an inspiring environment where students are encouraged to get involved in clinical work from the early days of their degrees. As a UCC student visiting for a year it has been fantastic to be able to get some actual practical experience in the legal field.

A few months ago I argued my first case in front of a judge and even though it was a slightly (extremely) terrifying experience, I grew magnificently from it. I realised that I could actually see myself as a lawyer in the future. Handling my own case and my own client gave me the confidence I needed to see a real future as a lawyer and it was a nice reassurance of the fact that I had not spent 3 years in Law School for nothing. The fact that I also won the case was a nice bonus.

Brooklyn Law School offers an extensive and comprehensive curriculum of courses to choose from. I have been taking classes ranging from Bioethics and Public Policy and International Commercial Arbitration to more practical classes such as Alternative Dispute Resolution and Divorce Mediation. It has been invaluable to be able to expand my curriculum in the way Brooklyn Law School has allowed me to during this year abroad.

Through the BCL (International) programme I have been able to not only study law in one of the most buzzing cities in the world, I have also been able to explore a whole new culture – and experience things I could only have dreamed of.

Last week I sat in the audience of the Late Show with David Letterman. Just like that, as if it was the most normal thing in the whole world. The week before that I nearly fell over Ethan Hawke on my way to class, as they were shooting a movie on the side-walk outside of my building. People reading poetry slam in the subway or break-dancing is nearly as much a part of the daily routine as your morning-coffee.

When I arrived here last August I was hit by an insane heat wave and the boiling city nearly threw me off living in a big city forever. New York is noisy, intense and quite overwhelming at times. It is nothing like Cork. For me the key to success was to create my own city, in the middle of the big city. New York is not as big as you think, but unless you find a way to create your own neighbourhood with your own favourite shops, walks and interesting New Yorkers to admire – it is easy to be overwhelmed by the size of this place.

I absolutely fell in love with Brooklyn Heights the minute I first walked from my apartment down to the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the oldest areas in New York with a rich historical architecture.  This is where the big stars retire to when they want to settle down and have a family. I hear Sarah Jessica Parker lives 5 minutes away from me.

It is not Manhattan but close enough. Here in Brooklyn Heights I managed to find my own place and my own space in this city. Filled with great restaurants, bars, second-hand shops and wine-bars, Brooklyn Heights is its own cultural Mecca. So it is not hard to fall completely in love.

Manhattan is only two Subway-stops away, so if you would (ever) get sick of the ‘peace’ and ‘quiet’ offered in the Heights, it just a hop, skip and a jump away to Soho and the buzzing nightlife in the Lower East Side. I am sure though, that once you do leave the Heights; you will be back sooner than you anticipated.

As this amazing experience is slowly coming to an end, all I can do is to encourage other people to choose the same path I did. New York City may not be everyone’s favourite cookie – and yes, it can be quite intimidating at first. However, if you give it a chance it will inevitably grow on you. Because that is what New York does to people – it traps you down and makes you never want to leave.


Annie Nevala
BCL International III (2013/2014)

ECUPL Experience

I spent my third year studying in East China University of Political Science and Law. Before heading over I had spent a year studying Mandarin and getting to know my Chinese classmates, and I was well prepared for any cultural or language challenges I faced when I arrived.

ECUPL is one of the top rated Law Schools in China and is a fantastic university to study in. I studied in the Graduate School with some excellent lecturers and all of our classes took place through English. As part of the course I was able to study unique subjects like Commercial Arbitration and Chinese Company Law which really benefited me in my Final Year in UCC.

Living in Shanghai also brought with it some unique experiences, from celebrating National Tomb Sweeping Day to meeting the Taoiseach on his Trade Mission in China. On days off, I took the opportunity to travel around Asia, and visited Indonesia, Beijing and Hong Kong among other fascinating places.

My exchange year studying in ECUPL was the first part of an overall LL.M degree in International Economic Law. When I graduated from UCC, I was able to apply to complete the remaining credits of the LL.M. I first completed a work placement with a commercial law firm in Dublin where I gained exposure to a vast array of interesting and challenging work with international clients. The final requirement is writing a thesis which I am currently working on. I will be returning to Shanghai to finish writing it supervised by a professor in ECUPL and all going well I will graduate at the start of the summer.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to have studied and gain an LL.M from a Chinese University. No other university in Ireland offers such a chance for students. For those looking for a year abroad with a difference, I can’t recommend the placement in ECUPL enough.


Aidan Burke, BCL (International) graduate

Letter from Shanghai

Students on the BCL International can take a year in Shanghai…here’s a letter from one student currently studying there at the East China University of Political Science & Law (ECUPL).

East China University of Political Science & Law – The China Option


Confronted with the list of options for your year abroad, it can be a bit confusing. After all, there are so many great choices and this decision will affect you in countless ways. Shanghai is a hard one to skip over though, or at least it was for me. The chance to live in this vibrant city is not one to be underestimated. It may be a brave choice, a bit more of a culture shock than some of the others, but it should read “Adventure Ahead” next to it; as that is exactly what is in store for those bold enough to study here.


Getting off the plane, you will begin to wonder what on earth you are doing here. I know I did, as did many of my other friends here. It takes a few days to adjust, but once you have the place really opens up. The campus is a mix of traditional Chinese architecture with the likes of what you would find in UCC, so it is a good base to settle in. The dorms make it so easy to meet people; I knew no one in the whole continent coming over and within hours I had already made my first few friends. People from all over Europe as well as Asia live there so thankfully there was no need to worry, people do speak English. Be warned, the same can’t be said for many people around campus so a couple of practical phrases written in characters might come in handy. The last thing you need after a long flight is to be wondering around campus with all your bags because no one knows what the word ‘dorms’ means. Chinese drop loos also need a little bit of adjustment, but eventually you stop thinking of them as so weird.


As for the city, it makes everyday exciting. From food stalls heaped high to bicycles and motorbikes speeding around the corners, parts of it truly live up to ‘Chinese’ cliché and satisfy the craving for that stereotypical idea in your head. There are many Temples and gardens to visit and the food is so delicious you will never want to stop eating (experimenting and trying new things definitely pays off). However the Western influence is unmistakeable, the skyscrapers and shopping malls are just like any other city, although on a massive scale, and many familiar brands and shops are to be found. The subway makes it easy to explore, and if you get lost the taxis cost close to nothing. There is always something going on; I have a schedule so packed I am starting to forget what being bored even feels like. From joining clubs (I joined the GAA, even though I hadn’t even watched it at home) to being invited to social events and shows, there is never a dull minute.


There are a few quirks to the city and the country worth mentioning, both positive and negative. People do take an interest and might stare or take photos of the “wàiguó rén”; it can get tiring but you just have to be flattered they find you so interesting. The traffic system can seem chaotic, and crossing the road should not be done without a good look around – vehicles and bicycles appear from nowhere. There is a real love of music and dance here, there are karaoke houses everywhere and people belting out their favourite songs are to be found in a lot of the parks and open areas. Even more impressive, strangers get together in big groups to do all sorts of dance – it is quite a nice bonus to be walking home and see people young and old waltzing around on the pavement.


It is also a great platform for travelling a bit further afield. I had only arrived three weeks when the Golden Week holiday took place, so I recommend knowing in advance when the next break is so that you can plan. I was lucky enough to see the Anhui province and Yellow Mountain, one of the best holidays I’ve ever had, and can’t wait to tick a few more items off my bucket list.


So somehow, I have woken up six weeks later and realised I am having the best time of my life, with some of the most interesting people I have ever meet. It isn’t the right choice for everyone. You need to keep an open-mind, be up for a change and have some spirit of adventure. Just like all places, there are many things that will annoy you – the Wifi disconnects all the time, organisation is not always optimal and the time difference makes staying in touch less than easy. You will have days you love it, and those when you want nothing more than to be having a cup of tea at home. For me though, it was one of the best decisions I ever have made and, already, I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave!


Ashleigh Hayman, BCL (International) 3 (2013/14)