The story of Luka, or why, even in Covid19 times, you can intentionally choose to study abroad.
You may well wonder whether it makes sense to start yet another course of international study in times of Covid.
For me, the answer is an unequivocal “yes,” and I am happy to tell you why. My name is Luka Roosen, and after obtaining my master's degree earlier this year I started studying abroad again. I combine this program, an LL.M. in International Financial Law, at King's College London, with a student job as a Student Legal Talent Researcher at YouConnect. An LL.M. is a master-after-master program (manama) in law in which a graduate master's student specializes in a particular area of law—in my case, international financial law.
This makes me part of the 25 percent of law students who continue their studies abroad1. Starting a program of this sort is always a bit of an adventure, but we all know why in 2020, it’s all the more challenging.
Nevertheless, I resolutely opted for King's College in London. My choice was guided by a combination of my fondness for the financial legal aspect of transactions and my professional aspirations. I have long wanted to become a transactional lawyer in an international law firm. The King's College curriculum provides an ideal breeding ground for this with subjects such as International Private Equity Finance, Legal Negotiation, and the regulation of the Conduct of Mergers and Acquisitions.
Every international student is now faced with a host of choices. I too have had my doubts. Is it still worth the money? What about student life? What will leisure time look like? As far as your future is concerned, it’s obviously a wise decision, but is that enough?
In my opinion, it must be more than that. On the one hand, you can indeed take a much more competitive position in the labor market; on the other, it really is a personal choice. When considering the possibility of following this LL.M., I took into account, among other things, the fact that I never went to Erasmus, and before that, I’d always lived in the rather 'small' city of Ghent.
If I could give just one corona tip, it would be this: invest in social contacts and think about cohabiting beforehand. I myself live here with two friends I graduated with last year in Ghent. In times of periodic lockdowns, they really make a difference. After a long search, we found a flat together in Westminster. It’s a vibrant historic district (or borough as they call them here) that can still offer a form of peace and security in the largest city in the United Kingdom, also known as the financial capital of the world: London. It is a city with thousands of pubs, restaurants, and museums, dotted over different neighborhoods, each with its own character. It is a city where you enjoy getting lost and where I like to live. Even after two or three months, I still haven't been able to explore all the neighborhoods, so I will definitely stay here for a while.
Despite my decision to leave Belgium, it remains a matter of course that the coronavirus has had a great impact on my foreign experience. Lessons are mainly online, there are few student activities or lectures, and it is less easy to get to know new people. Fortunately, this does little to detract from the fascinating content of the course. The lessons are given by professors who are at the top of their field, with a strong focus on the law in action. They revolve around dialogue and active cooperation, but I hope that next semester will be even more personal.
Since the start of the academic year in London, I also joined YouConnect. I can do the job entirely online, making it the ideal opportunity to get a taste of the legal recruitment industry during my studies. Apart from the interesting range of tasks, it’s great fun to work with a committed team that even when working remotely manages to maintain the atmosphere. The insights gained in this process have also helped me in my search for a suitable job.
So yes, COVID-19 or not, being a law student in London turns out to be a fascinating experience in these times too! I wouldn't miss it for the world.