My Summer Study Abroad Experience

Date: December 29, 2015 | Posted By: USDBLS

Sometime during my second semester as a 1L, my section-mates began discussing their plans and intentions for securing summer internships. I was shocked that somewhere between five midterms and our Appellate Opening Briefs my classmates had the capacity (and time) to think about such things. Needless to say, I felt pressed to also secure a summer internship as quickly as possible, and promptly scheduled a meeting with career services. At this meeting, the advisor suggested that I align my summer plans with my future career aspirations. I left the meeting seriously reflecting upon which legal route I desired to pursue.   

While serving as a director on the board of a corporation since 18 years old, I have been exposed to a multitude of contracts and have therefore been aware of their importance as a foundation in business and for business interactions. My early and continued exposure with the world of business, coupled with my desire to work at an international level (as developed through my study abroad experience in Barcelona), strongly influenced my career aspirations. I determined that, given my background, I would pursue career as legal counsel for an international corporation, either in the construction or in the entertainment industry, wherein I would be primarily responsible for the corporation’s contract preparation.

Then, an opportunity presented itself after I stumbled upon a lunchtime “study abroad” meeting, where I learned that I could not only work towards my career aspirations, but also gain course credit for doing so. Considering my career aspirations, I found that the international business-related courses with USD’s Summer Study Abroad Program in London proved to be the best fit.

Thus, this past summer, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to study abroad in London, England, due to the generosity of our law school’s International Scholarship Funding Committee. During my time abroad, I took both of the courses offered –International Business Transactions and International Commercial Negotiations. Though each class featured material related to international business, the former was more theory, lecture, and case-based, while the latter provided my classmates and me with the ability to develop the requisite skills and approach to conducting successful business-legal negotiations.

International Business Transactions was particularly enlightening, as our course material shed light on much of the practical issues dealt with in the international business realm and the way in which law intersects and affects almost every aspect of these transactions. Similarly, International Commercial Negotiations proved to be one of the most impactful and useful courses I have taken during the course of my legal education thus far. Not only did the course echo and apply much of what I learned about cultural differences through my sociology background to the approach of negotiations, but I also developed a theory-based method style of conducting successful negotiations.

During the summer program, I was able to work towards my goals through gaining a wealth of knowledge related to my future career. While I gained invaluable knowledge, I was also able to have the chance to implement better studying habits and manage my stress levels effectively, all while being injected into a different culture and environment. Furthermore, I departed my program with, what I would consider, life-long friends from England, Mexico, the Philippines, and the Czech Republic. Having students from all parts of the world provided an extraordinarily immeasurable chance to gain a new perspective on America’s legal traditions, through the comparison and contrast between the legal systems of my classmates’ respective home countries.

I truly believe that this program provided me with the ideal opportunity to take action towards improving my law school performance, expand my skills as a nascent attorney, and work towards achieving my goals. I would highly encourage anyone interested in building a global network, or challenging themselves by learning and adjusting to the culture of a different country to take a summer study abroad course!

Author: Kat Castro, 2L Juris Doctor candidate at the University of San Diego School of Law.

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