Georgia Wighton is a 4th year Law student. She extended her degree so that she was able to fit in a year abroad, studying Law in Maastricht, Netherlands. It is very competitive at Reading University for Law students to study abroad, but for eight to 12 lucky students, the option is there. And Georgia was lucky enough to be chosen; she was able to experience a university experience outside of the UK, she was able to have a much broader understanding of Law having studied it somewhere else, and she was able to study Law in a very different way. Georgia now stands out in her field by having an international understanding of the subject and a much broader perspective on European Law. Until you are able to step outside of the UK, you never really question whether what we do and how we do things here can be improved or altered. But, having studied in the Netherlands for a year, Georgia now has the ability to suggest ways in which elements of Law can be adapted and improved, which is clearly a benefit and puts her above other graduate candidates who are against her. And most graduate employers are looking for people who can stand out and offer something different to their firm – a new idea or a new perspective.
Studying in Europe is most definitely not limited just to Law students. Almost all courses can offer a period abroad in a European country. So, it is not only Law students who can be a step ahead of other graduate candidates. I questioned Georgia on her favourite things about studying abroad in Europe and in the Netherlands, and what she felt she has learned from her experience…
What was your favourite thing about Study Abroad?
Georgia: There are many different things which made my experience memorable: most prominently, my ability to travel around many amazing cities in Europe so cheaply. I was able to visit Amsterdam for just €7, and travelling to Germany or Belgium was so easy and affordable – something that I can never do here in Reading. I was able to buy an inter-railing ticket and travel as much as I wanted. As a summer treat, I flew to Morocco (flights are also very affordable from the Netherlands) and had the chance to ride camels in Africa. This was mostly paid for by my Erasmus grant, which is another huge advantage for studying in Europe rather than outside of Europe. Through my Erasmus grant, I received around £250 per month on top of my student finance. This grant does not need to be paid back nor is it influenced by your parents’ income; the only thing you have to do is sign a few forms during your time abroad. The Erasmus grant was incredible and really enriched my experience, I never worried about money and was able to say yes to every experience that was offered. And this is what studying abroad is all about: being able to enjoy a year of new experiences.
What was your favourite thing about studying in the Netherlands?
Georgia: The best thing about living in Maastricht, Netherlands was being able to experience Dutch culture and food. Everywhere I turned, there would be waffles and other yummy street food. Being only two hours away from Belgium, I was able to enjoy Belgium chocolate all day, every day. Additionally, being close to Germany meant that there were many German traditions which Maastricht prides itself on, too, like Christmas markets, street parades, and lots of drinking and partying. The city itself was beautiful: all set out on cobbled streets, similar to York. These cobbled streets were not ideal when I was cycling home after a few too many drinks. But, yes, the Dutch really do cycle everywhere, a tradition which I embraced and loved every day whilst I was away.
What have you learnt from studying abroad?
Georgia: My experience abroad has given me a new found independence and confidence. Surviving living on my own in a foreign country for 10 months has allowed me to grow and develop. My communication skills are much better as I had to learn to speak to groups of people who were not native English speakers. I am much better at speaking in front of people as well – a trait which is vital for a career in Law. There is something about being away from your family and friends which allows you to not only appreciate them more, but also learn much more about yourself. Studying abroad is much more than just travelling – it is a chance to embrace a new style of living, a chance to live with people from all over the world and a chance to experience everything university has to offer and more.