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Why I studied abroad during law school (and why you should too)

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Castle Gravensteen: Gent, Belgium
Above: Jon Anderson at Castle Gravensteen in Ghent, Belgium. Below: Anderson at Morro Castle in Havana, Cuba and scenes from Havana Cathedral; Viñales, Cuba; Nijmegen Bridge in the Netherlands; Amsterdam; and Kronenburg Park in Nijmegen, Netherlands

Many students study abroad during their undergraduate program. Studying abroad helps people to broaden their perspectives, experience new cultures, and see new places.

I would like to recommend the reasons why you should consider studying abroad in law school even if you studied abroad during your undergraduate degree. The two main reasons you should study abroad are to be inspired and to seek improvement as a student and future lawyer.

First, studying abroad can inspire you while you are in law school. During my first year, I did an intersession trip to Havana, Cuba. My class in Cuba inspired me to attempt to maximize my opportunities in law school. My experience presented new opportunities that I would have never considered before law school.

Study Abroad

The experience inspired me to re-establish the International Law Society at Penn State Dickinson Law. In my role as president, I organized a trip to the American Society of International Law’s Conference in New York, brought in speakers to talk about the Crimean conflict and the European Court of Human Rights, and improved my leadership skills. Second, it helped me to pursue a position on Jus Gentium: Journal of International Legal History, which improved my legal research and writing skills.

Third, my trip to Cuba inspired me to seek publication. Because I was familiar with Cuban law, I wrote a seminar paper dealing with the influence that the Soviet Union had on the Cuban constitution. This paper has been accepted for publication in the Uppsala Yearbook of Eurasian Studies. I would have never pursued publication if I had not studied abroad.

Morro CastleFinally, my experience in Cuba inspired me to pursue my LL.M. in European Business Law at Radboud University while I finished my J.D. at Penn State Dickinson Law.

Not only can studying abroad increase your opportunities in law school, studying abroad can also inspire your career choice. When I went to Cuba, I was unsure about the type of law I wanted to practice. The comparative law classes on foreign investment and the operation of companies within Cuba intrigued me. I decided that I was interested in pursuing a career in international business law.

During my 2L year, I found out about a program that Radboud University in the Netherlands offered with my law school. I am able to pursue an LL.M. in European business law while gaining credit for studying abroad through Penn State Dickinson.

If I had not gone to Cuba during my first year, I would not have ever considered this option. Studying abroad will allow me to graduate with law degrees in two different legal systems from two different continents. This will provide me with career opportunities that I would not have gotten if I had remained in the United States.

Studying abroad can also help you to improve as a future lawyer. One of the best things about it is the exposure to other legal systems. American law schools primarily focus on the U.S. common law system. However, law has become increasingly more international. Studying abroad provide the student with the opportunity to learn about another legal system from lawyers and professors in that nation. It allows law students to step back from the complexities of the daily case reading to see how legal systems operate as a whole.

Kronenburg Park

Studying abroad is beneficial for inspiration and improvement. My study abroad experience gave me greater clarity on what I wanted to do with my law degree and how I could accomplish it. I highly recommend studying abroad in law school.

Jon Anderson Jon Anderson is a 3L at Penn State Dickinson School of Law and is also pursuing an LL.M. with a concentration in European business law at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. He is seeking to practice international business law in Atlanta, Ga.