Studying abroad for a year enriches Kent law students’ experiences

Many of the courses offered at Kent Law School include the opportunity to study abroad for a year. These four-year courses enable students to study law at one of Kent Law School’s partner universities around the world.

Laura Charleton, Director of International Legal Studies, explains that ‘at Kent Law School, we recognise the value to our students of internationalising their studies. This is not restricted to physically studying in a different country. For example, our students join us from around the world, bringing their own diverse backgrounds to their studies, which enriches everyone’s learning experiences. Our critical approach to the study of law also lends itself to a curriculum that privileges cross-border considerations and an international outlook. Furthermore, technology facilitates virtual international opportunities resulting in connections and friendships being made without leaving home. However, some of our students physically study law in another country as part of their degree course. Immersing themselves in different cultures, languages, legal systems, and higher educational institutions truly enriches their undergraduate studies. Studying abroad is not an easy experience but it certainly provides the opportunity for personal growth, and results in fantastic memories.’

Read about the experiences of some of our students who studied abroad in 2022-23 below.

 Cheyenne Nolan started her studies on the 3-year Law LLB at Kent but changed courses to the 4-year International Legal Studies LLB at the start of her second year. She is coming towards the end of her year studying at Kobe University in Japan.

‘My decision to study abroad came from a ‘you only live once’ (YOLO) decision if I’m being honest!

I’ve always enjoyed travelling, but never thought about moving countries, until one night I was scrolling through the Kent website and saw the International Legal Studies with a Year Abroad page and said YOLO! It opened my eyes that I could study the course I loved (Law), but I could also experience a whole new culture. By choosing to do a year abroad with the university it meant I had better networking opportunities, could meet other students, and could continue learning in a whole new country! This opportunity has benefited me for future career goals, as I can say I’ve experienced dealing with language barriers, learning law in a different culture and context and learning a new language!

The most memorable experience for me during my year abroad has been talking to the locals. You’re always told to respect the elders, but here it is different. For example, I somehow got lost in a Tokyo station. I saw the most beautifully dressed elderly lady but knew I shouldn’t approach her. About 5 minutes later someone tapped my shoulder, and it was the lady! She asked me if she could speak to me because she had studied English but had no one to speak to. We spent the train ride exchanging stories, only to find out she was raised locally to the university I was at. She gave me all her travel tips and what to expect about the upcoming Sakura season, and I have never been more appreciative.’

Eleanor Railton had to defer her year studying at Osgoode Hall, Yorke University, Toronto, Canada due to the pandemic. She has just completed her deferred year and graduated with First Class Honours in Bachelor of Laws with Honours in International Legal Studies with a Year Abroad.

’For someone who had spent many years of their law studies in the comfort of their home due to covid-19 and being a homebird at heart, choosing to pursue a year of study in Toronto was an experience many of my friends, family and fellow students at Kent did not expect me to embark upon. In fact, there were many times during my time abroad that I second-guessed whether I was being crazy wanting to separate myself from my closest ones for the better part of eight months. From this, I discovered integral parts of my personality: resilience and curiosity. Learning an entirely different way of living; a unique legal system which draws inspiration from the UK and US institutions whilst making its own impression on the world, namely learning from its marked history in relation to the treatment of Indigenous peoples; and making amazing friends from all over the world were some of the biggest results from my journey.

A year abroad builds a backbone, encouraging you to challenge other people’s opinions even where you may doubt yourself. It gives you a desire to travel to new places, taste some of the best foods in North America, and discover nuances of the law that the UK can gain understanding from. It does not require a student to be overly confident nor know the culture and history of countries that offer the opportunity to study at their esteemed institutions. What it does require is hard work and discipline, and you leave with an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for having the opportunity and support from both universities and people around you. I am already looking for the next adventure!’

Bryle Noddings and Dylan Thakker both had to defer their year studying at The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong due to the impact of COVID-19 on international travel. They have recently found out they passed with strong sets of marks and look forward to graduating from Kent soon.

 Bryle Noddings

‘I’m an adventurous student who has already lived and studied in three diverse countries. Recently, I embarked on a thrilling journey to my fourth destination, Hong Kong, through the International Legal Studies LLB. The opportunity allowed me to immerse myself in the academic rigor of the University of Hong Kong, one of Asia’s most acclaimed institutions.

My experiences in Hong Kong extended beyond the traditional classroom, delving into critical legal issues unique to the region and understanding the strategic role Hong Kong plays in the global financial markets – insights that enhanced my commercial awareness, a highly sought after trait among law students.

Beyond academics, I was fortunate enough to secure work experience with Sia Partners, an international consultancy firm, further equipping me for my future career. On a cultural front, I relished the chance to delve into the city’s rich history and lifestyle. The prevalence of Cantonese in the local community presented a significant challenge for me as a non-speaker. Yet, with patience, an open mind, and the warmth of local friends, I managed to navigate through this linguistic barrier and extract the most from my year abroad.

Overall, the study abroad experience has been a melting pot of invaluable academic knowledge, professional development, and cultural enrichment, setting the stage for a promising future in my legal career.’

Dylan Thakker

‘After attending an online event in my 2nd year, I decided to convert my standard Law LLB and read law at the University of Hong Kong. Despite to the pandemic, I was able to defer my year abroad, but had to repeat all my prior preparations! I wish to extend my utmost appreciation to Laura and the University of Kent Study Abroad Team. They assisted and reassured me throughout the applications and planning procedures. I feel very fortunate to have had such a network of support. Despite the stressful preparation, it is with certainty that the year abroad was worth it, it was an incredibly beneficial, influential, and valuable experience for several reasons.

The year abroad was assessed on a pass/fail basis, a luxury enjoyed by few students since their first year of undergraduate studies! This was beneficial for academic purposes because it meant that I could be more creative and ambitious with my module choices with the intention of learning new topics and areas of law.

By encountering alternative jurisdictions’ legal approaches and yet defending the English law’s approach in the context of comparative debates and discourse, it fostered the development and solidification of my own beliefs. The modules in Hong Kong were taught differently and to a very high standard. Teaching consisted of one 3-hour interactive lecture per week, assessment involved larger coursework essays and an additional group-work exercise, presentation, or participation element. This was a comparatively sizable workload which presented new challenges and ultimately opportunities for learning.

It will be hugely beneficial to any passionate law student who seeks to learn more, better prepare themselves for their career, further develop their affinity for logical reasoning or creative problem solving and enhance their learning experience in a new environment which is ripe for debate and comparative discussion.

Living abroad in Hong Kong was truly incredible, it really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I am very thankful for. Personal highlights include, the most amazing food, the buzz of local night markets, stunning hikes, island-hopping across Hong Kong’s hundreds of islands, travelling to Macao and reconnecting with my passions for music and photography. I believe there is a distinct value in one’s ability to recognise divergence as a precondition of humanity, to network with different people and to forge new friendships. For these reasons, I cannot recommend it enough, a year abroad is another excellent opportunity. Consider the opportunity, plan ahead and go for it!

I encourage others to consider taking a year abroad before entering employment. At any time during the process, engage with the incredible network of support offered by the University of Kent.’

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