Final year student Laura Brohan takes a look back at her erasmus at the University of Texas and explains what it has added to her Law degree in UCD.

When I was filling out my CAO form back in sixth year, one of my biggest considerations was which university would enable me to travel, both during and after my degree. I attended an open evening and spoke to numerous UCD students who completed academic exchanges all over the world. This confirmed my belief that UCD was the right university for me. When the time came to apply for my own exchange semester, I was presented with a long list of options in far flung corners of the world including India, Australia and Italy. I was drawn to the University of Texas at Austin because of its law school’s reputation (ranked 14th in the U.S.) and the culture and atmosphere of Austin itself.

A big question that I was frequently asked, both at home and in Texas, is why study law in another jurisdiction with a different legal system? Let me tell you, there are a number of benefits to studying abroad. Firstly, it helps you grow in independence and resilience as you navigate moving to a new country.  Another main attraction to studying law in the U.S. is the fact that law is a postgraduate subject. The exchange allowed me to sample postgraduate study and gave me an insight into whether I would like to pursue further study once I complete my undergraduate  degree in UCD. Law schools in the U.S. adopt the Socratic method; the interactive nature of classes really appealed to me. I had the opportunity to study fascinating areas of law including entertainment law and capital punishment law. Being the youngest student in a class was intimidating at times, but the challenge really benefited my academic development.

 

Experiencing university life in the U.S. was fantastic. I lived in West Campus, which is almost entirely made up of student accommodation. There was always something happening in my neighbourhood, whether it was a crawfish boil (a Texan staple) or a pool party. I never lived away from my family before, so I was quite nervous about living with strangers. Luckily, I ended up with three amazing roommates who became close friends. Having a network of other UCD students from different courses also made it really easy to settle into life in Austin and get advice on everything from the best brunch spots to what bank to use.

There is a strong sense of school spirit and pride at UT, as shown by the sea of burnt orange clothing (UT’s school colour) on campus. School sports games always had a brilliant atmosphere and one of the highlights was seeing UT win a basketball game in the final two seconds when one of the star players scored a three-pointer. Unfortunately, because I was here for the second semester, I missed the college football season but I did get to see the annual Orange and White preview game when next semester’s team made their first public debut.

Austin lived up to its unofficial motto “Keep Austin Weird.” Austin prides itself on its quirks and charms. One of the things I loved most about Austin was that even though it has the skyline and amenities of a large city, it has the feel of a small town. It is home to wonderful restaurants, great nightlife and is renowned for its live music scene. Southern hospitality was clear to see and the people were really welcoming. Being based in Austin gave me the chance to travel all over Texas, from major cities to small towns. After my finals, I also had the opportunity to travel further afield to California, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.  As I look back on my time in Austin, I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Texas. I left the Lone Star State with lifelong memories and friends. I would highly recommend that anyone studying in UCD take advantage of the study abroad opportunities offered to them.

As I look back on my time in Austin, I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Texas. I left the Lone Star State with lifelong memories and friends. I would highly recommend that anyone studying in UCD take advantage of the study abroad opportunities offered to them.

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