Summer at the London School of Economics & Political Science

My journey with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) started about 6 months out from my actual travels when I applied to be accepted into the subject ‘Cyberlaw’ as part of their intensive Summer School program. Knowing LSE was in the top 10 law schools worldwide, it was a nervous few weeks waiting for the confirmation email offering me a place on the course.

It did not take long for July to roll around and I was on my way to London. As I set off on my (long) flight, I felt a combination of nerves and excitement – how would I cope with an intensive law subject at one of the world’s most prestigious universities  17,000km from home?

On arrival in London, I was greeted with a typical summer day – cool, wet and cloudy 🙂  It did not take long to suss out the underground Tube network and I was on my way to meet with my friend and roommate (who was also undertaking a subject at LSE) at our Airbnb accommodation in the West London suburb of White City.

The day before classes started, we attended registration at the LSE campus, which is located in the heart of London at Holborn – right next door to the Royal Courts of Justice. It was only a 15 minute tube ride from our accommodation, and very easy to find. The location itself is quite law-focused, with many lawyers and law firms close by due to the proximity of the Courts.

LSE New Academic Building
LSE New Academic Building

The LSE campus is spread out over a few blocks and borders the beautiful Lincoln’s Inn Fields – a great little park to join locals in for lunch. My classroom was located in the New Academic Building, which was modern and well-equipped.

 

 

Lincoln's Inn Fields
Lincoln’s Inn Fields

As I made my way into my first day of class, I saw about 50 other nervous, yet smiling faces. It wasn’t long before I was chatting with law students from around the world, including Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Canada and Ecuador (just to name a few). All were at a similar stage of their law degrees and all were just as nervous about undertaking a subject at LSE. In addition to everybody’s friendliness, I was particularly impressed with the ability of many of the students who were undertaking the course with English as their second language.

 

LSE New Academic Building
LSE New Academic Building
LSE Classroom
LSE Classroom

 

 

 

Professor Andrew Murray
Professor Andrew Murray

Our lecturer, Professor Andrew Murray, greeted the class with his cheerful Scottish accent, and it did not take long to see why he is regarded a world leader in the field of cyber law. He was engaging, knowledgeable and experienced in the subject area and presented the topics in a manner which was easy to understand and able to be applied to real-life scenarios.

The format for the Cyberlaw subject was Monday – Thursday, with a lecture each morning for 3 hours and a tutorial in the afternoon for 1.5 hours. The morning lecture was conducted with the entire Cyberlaw cohort (about 50 people), which was then broken into smaller groups for the tutorials – consisting of about 15 students.  My tutor was Mark Lieser, a PhD candidate who was a wealth of knowledge and engaged the class in insightful discussions, activities and debates. Tutorials were also a great opportunity to get to know my classmates better and discuss the similarities/differences between the legal jurisdictions around the world.

Each day, groups completed a blog which was published on the LSE website – you can check it out here http://lsecyberlaw.blogspot.ca/2016_07_01_archive.html?view=flipcard.

 

Oxford Street, London
Oxford Street, London
London Street
London

Living in London was an amazing experience. I found that staying in an Airbnb accommodation gave me the opportunity and freedom to live like a local and truly experience what it is like to be a Londoner – even if only for a few weeks.

The one (and only) ‘heatwave’ of the summer (32 degrees) lasted only a few days and it was good to have some sunshine in between London’s grey skies.

 

Dishoom, London
Dishoom, London

The diverse cultures that populate London make it a great place for sampling amazing food from around the world. Their pub culture also allowed for some fun times getting to know your classmates after we had finished classes for the week.

London also has a great suburban scene and each area has its own feel. I really enjoyed Notting Hill, Soho and Shoreditch. London is also jam-packed with historical tourist sites such as Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the London Eye – all of which are amazing to see in real-life.

While time for social activities was somewhat limited with the intense workload, being so close to Europe was an amazing advantage. I was lucky enough to find time to get away to Edinburgh, Scotland for the weekend, which was a great experience. Other students found time to duck over to Europe to places such as France and Spain for the weekend – some even taking in the final stage of the Tour de France.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Old Town, Edinburgh
Old Town, Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the study was intense, and knocking out a 2000 word essay by the second week and a closed-book exam in the third week was challenging, it was achievable and rewarding. The subject content was interesting and well-taught, and has allowed me to bring back knowledge to Australia in an emerging area of law.

Overall, travelling to London and attending LSE was an extremely rewarding and worthwhile experience. I have no doubt that attending this course has placed me in a better position to tackle the tough legal job market next year and has given me an experience that I will remember for a lifetime.

Cyberlaw Class
Cyberlaw Class

A big thank you UTS:Build for their assistance in getting me to London.

London School of Economics: living through BREXIT

My decision to do the summer school program at the London School of Economics and Political Science was one of a personal challenge. Doing a three-week intensive course on the laws and functioning of the European Union on a semester break probably wouldn’t be on most university students list of things to do and I did underestimate how much work would be actually involved. Normally, my contact hours for my double degree at UTS are around 10 hours per week however at LSE it was 4 and a half hours per day: a 1.5 hour tutorial in the morning followed by a 3 hour lecture in the afternoon, accompanied with required readings every day, 2 assignments and an exam to finish the course. Automatically I thought to myself, Sarah you are way in over your head especially since I hadn’t done a written exam since the HSC. Unlike a lot of the other programs BUiLD ran this break, I was the single representative of UTS at LSE – I have done a lot of travelling alone so I wasn’t nervous going into the course.  But as the course progressed and probably not to the surprise of those who know my Swiss ‘do everything early’ work ethic it turned out to be a month of, to quote Kylie Jenner ‘realising things’.

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The London School of Economics is situated in the heart of London; a five-minute walk to the theatre district, Soho and Piccadilly Circus. It was a 20 minute ride on the infamous London tube from where I was staying in West Kensington. My days began this way, learning to always get the second train as it wouldn’t be as full as the first. Followed by training every morning in the LSE student unions gym – besides the usual confused male gaze of a girl lifting heavy weights, it was my routine to prepare myself for the long day of learning.

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Having only three weeks to scratch the surface of the EU was intense. My usual work ethic is that I start an assignment 4-6 weeks before its due and have it done minimum 1 week before its due date. Having only a week to do an essay worth 20% and a week to study for an exam that was worth 80% was something that made me realise how much I am actually capable of.

It wasn’t all work though, I made sure I had time to do things that had always made my time in London before so much fun. Going to see Phantom of the Opera, eating at a multitude of Vegan restaurants, spending hours at Camden markets and even training with some British powerlifters made my time even more enjoyable than I imagined.

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In terms of studying, I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect time to study the EU in London because right in the middle of the course was the UK’s referendum on whether to remain in EU. Being actually in the capital city of a country divided on whether or not to stay within the EU and learning from academics involved with the EU was unparalleled to any learning experience I have had. To wake up the morning of the results in complete shock at the decision and gathering around the radio to listen to David Cameron’s resignation speech due to the leave vote was being part of history.

Within 24 hours London dramatically changed; with the people of London’s constituency voting remain, the shock of the decision was felt immediately. As the day progressed so much was happening; the multitude of resignations from the Labor party, calls for a second referendum as well as the overall concern for the future of the United Kingdom itself with calls for London itself as well as Scotland to leave the UK. There wasn’t the same rushed vibe on the tube, no one was talking or reading the papers. The city was in disbelief and our lecturer himself said that ‘academics now need to do soul searching’.

I received an overall A for my work and that is something I am so proud of. My time in London was something I won’t forget; whether it be from what I achieved in terms of education or just for my overall well-being, it was an experience that will stick with me IMG_6025