Shenaia Nanayakkara / Maastricht, Netherlands, International Environmental Law

At the beginning of this year, I was chosen for a short-term study abroad program in Maastricht, Netherlands. In my opinion, travelling while studying is one of the best options you can give yourself. You challenge your skills and boundaries while you explore a whole new aspect of the course you have chosen. Learning about the different laws used on the international platforms broadens your scope, as well as teaches you how to adapt to different.

The program lasted no longer than three weeks. Within those three weeks each of us attended 3 days of academic class while the weekends were used to travel to different countries. One weekend was spent in Brussels where we got to visit both the European Parliament as well as the European Commission. Another weekend allowed us to visit Amsterdam. Our visit to Amsterdam not only gave me the chance to visit some of the most famous art galleries, but gave us the pleasure to visit the Greenpeace International Office and be a part of a presentation done by the Young Friends of the Earth.

Throughout the teaching period we had one presentation and a multiple-choice exam to assess us on the topics we had learnt and researched on. We were privileged with guest lectures each week who were well known European lawyers and environmental law professors. Amongst all these eye-opening things the revolved around law, we had a number of social activities to participate in:

  • Visiting the Grand Place in Brussels
  • Visiting the Belgian Comic Strip Center
  • Visiting the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels
  • Attending a chocolate demonstration and tasting
  • A tour of a brewery and beer tasting Antwerp, Netherlands
  • Visiting the famous galleries in Amsterdam – Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum
  • A tour of the Heineken Experience
  • Witness the Amsterdam Light Festival
  • Visit the Anne Frank House
  • A tour of the Zaanse Schans Open Air Museum

Leaving to study an elective in Maastricht was probably one of the most challenging things I have put myself through. As a majority speaking Dutch country, you make yourself adapt and learn certain phrases and words to help yourself get around more easily. Moreover, you try new cuisines, visit beautiful places to try and understand their culture and ways of life. I found myself exploring the small city of Maastricht on my days off and meeting the warmest people while experiencing my first ever winter with snow ball fights and skating on frozen lakes.

As an international student who has already made the life changing decision of moving out of my comfort zone to come to Australia to broaden my scope of law, the decision of wanting to partake in this short-term exchange was one of my best ones yet. Choosing to take part in this short-term exchange not only let me experience the worlds cultures in a short span of time, but gave me insight into the different ways laws are interpreted as well as applied on different platforms. I got to meet some of the most wonderful people with whom I get to share with extraordinary and eye-opening experience with. If you are looking for something that is more than just reading case studies and theory, apply for any of the law short-term programs. You meet people who are just like you or people who want to learn something about the culture you come from. Travelling is a two-way street that allows you to learn and teach at the same time.