Katerina Clarke decided to move from Russia to the UK in order to study the LLM (the master of laws degree). Here, she tells us about learning law in a foreign language, adapting to different teaching methods and her experiences.
LLM... The three letters that stand for the master’s degree in law. For me, an international student from Russia, these letters have acquired a special meaning: language, law and methods of teaching.
L is for Language…
The nightmare called the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is gone and forgotten. I got the required marks and my first struggle with the English language ended with a small but very pleasant victory.
Loaded with dictionaries and other useful materials, I was ready to plunge into a new language environment. I felt a sense of relief when I heard my future professors presenting their modules. Their English was clear and understandable: music to my ears.
I soon discovered that my course was full of other international students. Apart from a few people who were from the UK, there were students from all over the world. English was our lingua franca though when making presentations, sharing opinions and discussing topics.
L is for Law…
My course is designed for students from different countries with different legal systems. You can be a real expert in your own domestic legislation, but, in order to get on in an international course, I think you need to make more effort to get the full understanding of law in general.
Our seminars often ended up with lunches where the colourful collection of LLM students could bring together all of their ideas in order to find the best solutions to different legal problems. At these moments, you realise that thought thrives on conflict!
M is for Methods of Teaching…
When I found out that we had only two seminars a week, it was really new to me. This was very different from my studies in Russia, where I had six days of learning a week, from 9 am to 4 pm, with a number of compulsory subjects which all had to be studied.
In fact, it was a real challenge for me to change my approach to match the British education system.
I felt that my final results were fully dependent on me and I was able to get as much as from the course as I wanted. I adored this approach. It makes you feel responsible and it leaves you with a choice. It can lead to success, but it can also lead to failure for those who are not prepared for it.
What else does the LLM mean to me? Outside of the classroom, the LLM means leisure time, luck and moments to remember.
L is for Leisure Time…
You can’t work hard if you don’t have enough free time to get a decent rest. There’s nothing to match the sense of satisfaction of free time after working hard. The flexible timetable of the programme gave me the responsibility of organising my own time.
However, this freedom has its pitfalls. Well-organised students know how to divide up their time. But what about the ‘rushers’? By rushers, I mean the people who inevitably end up leaving things to last minute. Well, the flexible schedule can make their life even worse. I consider myself to be a rusher and unfortunately, a lot of time was left to my discretion, so be careful!
L is for Luck…
I was happy to be on the course. It was the right choice. I recognise that a lot of things depend on the university itself, on the teachers and on how the programme is organised. But still, for me at least, the LLM programme itself is something everyone should definitely try in their life. I feel so lucky to have had this experience. And yeah, I’m even lucky enough to have learnt to organise myself better. I’m not such a rusher anymore!
M is for Moments to Remember…
It was only a one year programme, but I already have a whole bunch of experiences and memories. My fellow students from different countries have become my friends. Teachers have filled my inbox with their kind remarks and I really considered myself to be a part of this course. I only wish my course could have been longer!