Czech Republic: A Semester Abroad

Gabriela Palencia (JD '10) in the Czech Republic, 2009

I had a wonderful experience at Masaryk University, and I would encourage everybody to consider the possibility of studying abroad. Studying in another country exposes you to different educational, legal, economic, and political systems. It broadens your horizons in every way, not just in the legal field.

Aside from traveling and learning about Moravian culture, I was fortunate to attend classes and conduct research at the Faculty of Law at Masaryk University. I took courses on EU and International law, EU Competition law, Human Rights law, and NGO law in the European context. My research project consisted of NGO law in the EU, and it focused on two initiatives that have been undertaken by scholars and lawyers to draft a European Foundation Statute, which would significantly reduce the legal, administrative, and economic obstacles that NGOs wishing to operate on a pan-European basis currently face. I became very close with my research supervisor, who is still advising me.

Studying at Masaryk meant gaining an education from a different perspective than the one I am used to here at John Marshall. Classes at Masaryk were more open to discussion, and they relied less on cases and more on statutes. My professors at Masaryk were very interested in knowing the American counterpart to some of the statutes and cases discussed in class (especially in my human rights class, where I was asked to discuss landmark U.S. civil rights cases), thus, they were very receptive to the idea of having exchange students in their classes. I must say, it made my semester a very good one.

The school facilities were great (the library at the faculty of law was impressive), the teachers were very approachable, and the students were very helpful. I met many students who knew of Professor Seng and The John Marshall Law School. Many of these students told me about their desires to study at John Marshall, and they had attended lectures given by John Marshall professors who visited the university. My coordinator, Martin Glogar, was also incredibly helpful. He helped me with everything from visa and housing issues to concerns about my courses and even my research project.

During my stay, I lived in one of the university’s residence halls, which was very convenient, as many other exchange students also lived there. Rooms were shared, but they were spacious and included a kitchen and bathroom. The residence hall was located near a tram and bus stop, so it was very easy to get around in Brno. It was also within walking distance to the center (although in the winter most people took public transportation).

As you can see, I have nothing but good things to say about Masaryk and its faculty and staff!

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