Nick Betts, Deakin Arts/Law student
As I considered my options towards the end of the first year of my five year degree (Arts/Law) I was told about the opportunity to study abroad. Without knowing too much about it I decided that I should get on board. It seemed a great opportunity to travel and at the same time I wouldn't fall behind in my degree. I can now safely say that travel and study are just two of the many benefits that such an exchange provides.
I left Australia at the end of January on a forty degree day with the smoke from a bushfire on the horizon. Just over a week later I had made my way through England and Belgium to find myself in snow covered Utrecht, the temperature sitting just above zero! Soon I had bought my first bike (the transport of choice in The Netherlands) and had become adept at cycling through the snow on my way to class in the grand old university buildings in the middle of Utrecht.
With the grandeur of the buildings and the reputation of the Law School preceding any classes I wasn't sure what to expect from the subjects themselves. I chose fairly broadly, hoping to get a European and indeed global perspective on my studies. Throughout the semester my classes were European Human Rights, European Labour Law, Comparative Criminal Law and International Law Sources. The work required was similar to that at home, but the variation in the content and how different it was to anything I'd studied before made it easier and enjoyable. All my subjects certainly broadened my understanding and appreciation of law, and have given a more global perspective to my studies at home. It is because of this that I can strongly recommend a semester exchange; it is a chance to study in a different environment, learn new and challenging things, but at the same time it is of great benefit to the degree you're studying at home.
The study was ultimately only a part of my exchange. Throughout the semester I made many great friends from all over the world. To meet and party with people from Spain, Germany, Denmark and Italy (just to name a few nationalities) made me realise just how different an experience it was from just another semester at home. The friendships I made I'm sure I'll keep and when I return to Europe it will be very handy to have a few couches to crash on in various countries! As well as this Utrecht itself is a fantastic town. Just a short train trip from Amsterdam it is small enough to get around easily, yet big enough to provide plenty of places, people and parties to keep you busy.
The opportunity for travel was also fantastic. During semester I was able to make weekend trips to Belgium and France and at the end of my exchange traveled through Spain, Italy and the Greek Islands before heading to Germany to witness Australia's shattering loss in the World Cup. The small size of Europe yet its cultural diversity makes it a fantastic place to travel and the perfect spot for a university exchange. Deakin provide a great opportunity for this exchange; an opportunity that I can only say should not be missed.