My Intersession Study Abroad

By:  Camille Edwards

Bonjour!

While some of you were visiting family or working during winter break, I was traveling across Europe, visiting famous landmarks, drinking chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and feasting on crepes.  How did I do this?  Intersession study abroad!

When a friend told me that she was studying in India over winter break, I was intrigued.  I did not know that I could take intersession classes through another school.  I researched programs online and found the International Human Rights Law class, taught through Seton Hall, located in Chamonix, France, in the French Alps, and Geneva, Switzerland.  Seton Hall is an excellent law school, and both professors are experts in their field.  Professor Lori Nessel specializes in immigration, refugee law and policy, and international human rights.  She has also helped many refugees and visited countries such as Haiti.  Professor Carl Coleman works for the World Health Organization in Geneva and specializes in international health law and rights.

When buying my plane ticket to Europe, I thought, “why not go early and have a mini-vacation?”  My program did not start until December 27, so I flew to Amsterdam on the twentieth.  In Amsterdam, I walked around the city, along the canals, and visited the Anne Frank Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh museum.  I drank Dutch beer, and tried Kroketten (Dutch croquettes), stroopwafels (Dutch cookies), and Belgian fries.  I also took a canal tour of the city on a boat, where I saw all the major landmarks. Although I was horribly lost at one point and could not find the red light district before I had to make my train to Paris, I am pretty sure that two of the women on my canal tour were prostitutes, so it kind of felt like they brought the red light district to me.

I left for Paris on December 23, where I vacationed for three days.  At my hostel, I met Breeanna, an undergraduate student from Harvard, who had the same plans in the city as I did, so we decided to travel together.   We spent a full day in the Louvre, attended mass at Sacre Coeur on Christmas Eve, and visited Notre Dame on Christmas morning. We also visited Napoleon’s tomb, the Pantheon, and spent Christmas night at the top of the Eiffel tower.

On December 26, I took the train to Chamonix, where I studied for ten days.  We only had three hours in the afternoons for class, which was held in a conference room at our hotel. The mornings were free for skiing and other snow activities.  During the days, I hiked through the snow, had a snowball fight, luged, climbed into a glacier, and went up in a gondola to Aiguille du Midi, one of the highest peaks in the French Alps.  I also feasted every day on French food, from veal to duck to foie gras.  My favorite foods were the fondue, and the French macarons, little sandwich cookies.

After a day of fun, I would go to class at 3:30 p.m. and learn about international human rights treaties and organizations, non-governmental organizations, and a variety of human rights issues, including female genital mutilation and tuberculosis.  The class and the readings were always interesting, the reading ranged from 50 to 80 pages a day, but often included newspaper articles and other documents that were easier to read than cases. The professors usually required group activity with some of the class, so we could apply what we learned to hypothetical situations. The students came from law schools from across the United States, and there was even a student from Australia.  We had a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives, which made the debate interesting.

We spent our last two days in Geneva, where we visited the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  At each organization, a representative talked about the organization and the current issues it was facing. We then had most of the second day for sightseeing, so my friends and I walked around the town, visiting landmarks and chocolate shops. Then we ended our class with a final dinner at a fondue restaurant in the middle of Lake Geneva.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience. I was fortunate to travel Europe, study a fascinating subject with esteemed professors, and meet many new friends. I would highly recommend Seton Hall’s Chamonix-Geneva program—or other study abroad programs—to fellow law students.

If you are interested in studying abroad for next intersession, the University of Idaho has a great list of study abroad programs through other law schools at www.law.uidaho.edu/lawstudyabroad.

Be aware that before you visit at another law school, you must receive permission from the Office for JD Student Affairs.  You may only receive transfer credit for courses that are graded, and you must earn at least a “C” in that course to receive the transfer credit.

Good luck, and au revoir!

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