Law – Student Success Stories
What's it like to study Law?
20-year-old Adriana from Giurgiu, Romania is currently in her second year of study at Southampton Law School.
Why did you choose to study in the UK instead of studying at home or in a different country?
There were a number of reasons behind my decision. The main one was that British culture has always been something I admire – I love the language and the history of the country. I also already knew some people from the UK and I wanted to experience their way of life. The education system is very good in the UK and I knew it would help me with my career prospects.
What was the application process like?
The application process was not too stressful. I was helped by an educational adviser the whole time, so I didn’t have to deal with all the required documents by myself. The toughest part of the application was writing my personal statement as I have always had trouble writing an essay within a word limit. Other than that, choosing my firm offer was also quite challenging and it felt like an “all or nothing” decision as I did not know whether or not I would exceed the conditional threshold at the time.
How did your family and friends react to the news that you were studying in the UK?
My family and friends knew that I wanted to study abroad, but they were still taken aback by my decision to leave Romania when I did. Regardless of this, they respected my decision and have been unconditionally supportive of it in every possible way.
However, the result of EU referendum changed this. My family became uncertain and sceptic of my decision and I had to spend a lot of time convincing them that everything would still be ok. They still have concerns about my safety but are proud of me for taking on this challenge.
Were there any other countries that you considered going to for your studies?
Yes, Holland was an option as well. The fees were much lower there than the ones in the UK, so Holland would have been more affordable for us. In the end I decided to apply for the UK governmental loan to support my studies in England, so as soon as I was granted that, I went on with it.
How did the fees in the UK compare to what you would have paid in your home country?
In Romania, undergraduate studies are mostly free, so it would have been much less expensive studying back home. However, graduate unemployment is a serious problem in Romania, so this is one reason I decided not to continue my studies there.
What about the cost of living?
There is an enormous difference between the economic situations of Romania and the UK, in terms of both incomes and costs. Therefore, even in terms of the ordinary expenses, it would have been far less expensive studying in Romania.
How are you finding the experience of living and studying in the UK?
I have to admit that it has been challenging. Nonetheless, I am happy with my choice to come here and would not change it for anything. The UK is a place where young people enjoy plenty of opportunities to strive to be the best they can be. The academic support is also very good – not only does it motivate you to set your goals high, but it also provides you with the means to get there.
What do you plan to do after your course is finished?
My main aims at the moment are getting a training contract at a law firm to start working with them as soon as I finish my studies, and completing my LPC (Legal Practice Course).
Are there any things you are finding difficult about living in the UK?
The UK is very different to Romania, something I did not fully appreciate until I came here. My first weeks in the UK were stressful. I genuinely did not realise how hard the cultural barrier was going to hit me. I remember the most striking moment was when two of my tutors complained about not understanding my handwriting, a thing that I had never had any issue with in Romania before (on the contrary, my handwriting style had always been praised)!
However, thanks to the endless support of both my family and the lovely people I had the chance to meet here, I managed to overcome that period of struggle and turned Southampton into my second home.
Did you find the language barrier difficult to overcome? What support was available to help with the language barrier?
I have to admit, it was not easy at all to begin with. I had to figure out how to greet people, how to start and maintain conversations, how to assume what people wanted to say even when their accents and slang made it difficult to actually understand everything. Even today I still find it difficult sometimes, but I have just accepted that this part of being from a different country and that nobody will judge me for it.
In terms of the support I received, the friends I made here – British or not – were a great help. Talking to them was the best way to improve my English. The University of Southampton was also extremely helpful, offering a variety of language support seminars and workshops specifically designed for foreign students which I attended regularly.
How do you think your experience of studying in the UK will be viewed by employers and was this something that was a factor in your decision?
As I have already mentioned, I was well aware of the highly regarded reputation of the English educational system and it obviously was one of the main reasons for which I chose to continue my studies here. I believe and hope that studying in the UK will enhance my graduate job prospects.
What would be your main piece of advice to someone considering coming to the UK to study law?
Be prepared for a challenge! English Law is very complicated but it is very rewarding when studying it. One day you may feel like you’re really struggling but the next day you will feel like you have accomplished a lot.
International case study
Gu, originally from Shanghai, studied for his LLB at the East China University of Political Science and Law and soon after started an internship with the Everbright Law Firm. Gu was so enthused by his law studies and work experience that the next logical step was to get his LLM, which brings us to now. We caught up with Gu midway through his LLM course at UCL Law School:
What inspired you to study Law?
When I see well-structured arguments given in court by lawyers, I will always feel excited and that is why I know I want to study law. I'd always recommend studying a subject you know you'll enjoy.
Why did you choose to study at your university?
UCL Law School provides more than 30 modules for selection each year and it really covers some niche aspects of legal study, flexibility was a big factor for me.
Its great location in central London offers a variety of chances to be exposed to many employers, an opportunity I will reap the benefits of later down the line.
What do you like about the course?
The classes are small and teachers often expect you to give out your idea instead of just listening to them talk, this sort of interaction really helps me learn. Tutorials are great and they're really helpful in the lead up to exams.
The content of course relates to the latest cases in the field and it is great for me to know how the knowledge we're accruing is applied in the real world.
What aspects of the course are you finding difficult?
Often students have lots of readings to do on the course and it sometimes become impossible for one to finish it all every week. But students always establish study groups to cope with the reading though a combination of team work and exchange of knowledge. As well as helping with the course it's a great time to make friends.
How are you funding your studies?
I fund my study mainly through my parents. Before I started at uni I earned some money working for Universum Ltd. in Shanghai.
What about the social side of things at university, does a law student find much time for it?
UCL provides lots of opportunities for social events. Every year, the Law Society will hold balls and events for us to relax and have a bit of fun.
UCL also offers plenty of chances to do volunteering work around London. Personally, I regularly volunteer at Thomas Pocklington Trust to guide elders with poor eyesight. I think it's important to be an active member of the community.
What do you plan to do once you’ve graduated?
Perhaps I will continue my lawyer career in Shanghai. Alternatively, I may choose to become a civil servant in China, there's great political changes going in my country I'd love to get involved.
How has your university supported your career aspirations?
The UCL career centre holds numerous lectures on employment. It has special sessions for improving your CV and will give you advice before interviews.
Any other comments?
The UCL Law Society comprises students from all over the world. You can meet lawyers from different cultures and backgrounds. Trust me, it's well worth studying here.