Having an international perspective enriches our understanding of the law

Kent Law School Student experience UFMG Summer School in Brazil

Our current stage 3 Law LLB student, Louvain O’Donoghue, shared her experience at the UFMG Summer School, an outstanding opportunity for Kent Law students, result of the partnership between Kent Law School and UFMG.

“This summer I was fortunate enough to be granted a full scholarship to attend the Summer School on Brazilian Studies (SSBS 2023) at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) in the vibrant city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. UFMG is the highest-ranked federal university in Brazil and the 4th overall in Brazil. Every year they open their doors to students from around the world to come and be educated on various aspects of Brazilian life for two weeks, whilst also encouraging us to engage with the local students and lifestyle.

Across the two weeks I was away at UFMG, I lived in their housing with the other students, had lectures every morning and three hours of Portuguese every afternoon. Alongside this, we also went on field trips to the historical city of Ouro Preto and the stunning botanical gardens of Inhotim. In our free time in the evenings, we explored Belo Horizonte and its rich nightlife, including local samba events, night markets, music events, clubs, and BBQS held by the local students we were partnered with. There were many highlights on the trip but some for me were experiencing the beautiful scenery of Inhotim and the road trip to and forth, watching the sunset over Belo Horizonte from historic view point Praça do Papa at the top of the city, and meeting and interacting with the professionals at the university and learning about their specialities and passions.

The point of this programme was to have an experience of cultural immersion into the life of a UFMG student whilst also learning about various aspects of Brazilian life, with lectures on the topics of law, economics, geology, international relations, politics, race, society and more. The educational side of the experience was incredible. It aligned with my legal studies and helped me to broaden my horizons outside of the remit of law. I believe that the basis for any legal career is not only intelligence but experience and understanding of the world, by travelling and immersing myself in another culture and learning what they valued and what they teach to their legal students, I feel as though I expanded my perception of the global legal sphere.

As well as being my first study abroad experience, the knowledge, and experiences I was lucky enough to receive whilst away will stay with me and shape my choices moving forward into my professional life. This was important and enriching for me but, having the opportunity to interact with students from all around the world from countries including, Malaysia, Australia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Brazil, America, Germany, France and more, opened my eyes to how other universities around the world run and the similarities and differences between my time at Kent and theirs at their home institutions. I also made friends for life and began building my global network, filled with people I genuinely became friends with due to the unique way in which we met, which included living and studying together and being one another’s support network across the experience.”

Laura Charleton, Senior Lecturer at Kent Law School, who facilitated the experience, commented ‘Kent Law School approaches the study of law critically. One facet of critical legal education is to consider law across borders since taking an international perspective enriches our understanding of the law and its impact both locally and globally. At Kent, we are fortunate to benefit from our close relations with fantastic international partners like UFMG. Louvain will carry this experience into her future career and we very much hope to continue facilitating this and other opportunities for our students’.