Let me begin this first blog by introducing myself. My name is Erin Jackson and I am a 24-year-old Irish Canadian. The Canadian part comes from being born and attending university there whereas Ireland is where I was raised. So how did I end up in the Netherlands?
I first discovered Utrecht in early 2012 when I came on Erasmus from my university in Canada for five months. I couldn’t get enough of the Dutch culture, way of life and the amount of bikes. Needless to say, when I went back to Canada to finish my degree I started to look at the Master’s programs Utrecht University had to offer. I couldn’t wait to come back!
Now, I’m just at the beginning of what will be a year long adventure, studying at Utrecht University and discovering (or rediscovering) this beautiful medieval city. I am enrolled in the Human Rights and Criminal Justice LLM, a significant departure from my undergraduate degree in Journalism. What better place to start studying international law than here, where class trips bring you straight to the International Criminal Court in the nearby city of the Hague?
With this new adventure, I am taking on a new set of labels: Master’s student, law student, expat, international and Dutch-speaking-wannabe. Settling in to Utrecht requires some must-haves such as a bike (an absolute essential to fully experience the Dutch way of life), a Dutch bank account and a registration permit with the city.
Luckily, the university is able to offer a helping hand for incoming, slightly lost international students (and yes, there are many of us). My introduction week included an international student orientation, a law faculty orientation and finally a programme orientation. Aside from getting the proper forms I needed to complete the above checklist of must-haves, I also got to familiarize myself with school buildings through a walking tour and to mingle with other international students. Even though I know the university offers many programmes in English, it wasn’t until I was sitting in a room filled with new Master’s students from over 70 countries that I realized just how international Utrecht University is.
My programme orientation was in the beautiful ‘Academy building’ in the centre of Utrecht. It is the same building where I will (fingers-crossed) graduate in one year. Our programme is small, just 15 students in total, with people from all over the world including Spain, Turkey, Uganda and Mexico. For an LLM focused on Human Rights, it is the perfect combination: small enough for in-depth discussion and with a broad range of people to cause heated debate.
With introduction week over and the start of classes underway, I feel as though I have my feet on the ground but there is no time to waste. With only nine weeks of classes per ‘block’, there is plenty of reading and work to be done right from the beginning. With that in mind, I think there is some reading I must get to!
Until the next time/ Tot de volgende keer!