Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Benefits of blogging

Students in the final lecture 
When you take a law course at Utrecht University, you are also required to take the so-called “capita selecta” during the third period of studies. In a nutshell, the capitas are short but intensive courses which last normally up to three weeks and are focused on a very specific area of the study field.  My classmates and I had the chance and pleasure to follow a very interesting and well-built capita, called enforcing EU law by EU agencies. For three weeks we were taught and mentored by Dr. Miroslava Scholten in order to enrich our understanding on one of the most important developments of EU law and governance, namely agencification. I’m not going to explain in details what this very complex term means, but for all of you interested in the subject, you can follow Mira’s blog here.

This, by the way, is also going to be a blog about blogs and you’re going to find out more in a blink. So, during our time in the capita we were divided into groups and asked to choose one of the EU’s agencies in order to complete a research about its structure, powers, accountability and problems that might (or not) arise in such spectrum. Besides building great teamwork skills, the course also taught us not to be afraid of presentations, which is an important ability to have in today’s times. Thus, after having lectures and guest lectures (by Michele Simonato, Marloes van Rijsbergen and Laura Wissink), the floor was for us, the students, to present each week a little bit of our findings.

The course was finalised with a research paper of each group and the creation of a blog on the main topic, including results of our team investigations. The idea of creating a blog might even sound out of the place in a law course, but believe me, it is one of the best ways to quickly and massively spread the message of your research. In the modern times it is hard to find someone that reads lengthy and complicated papers, unless it is indeed required for work or study. Most of the people instead prefer easy and absorbable news, thus the blogging becomes a practical solution. Moreover, the number of people you reach out is unimaginable. Therefore, I would strongly suggest to everyone: create a blog on the topic that you’re researching. It is a good idea to put into test your findings and the process of simplifying your research even helps you as a writer to really understand what’s going on there.

To conclude, our capita was quite successful and the student teams created five blogs. Nerea and Senta worked on EPPO, Juliette and Michael on EASA, Eline, Laura and Babette on ECN, Anka, Agustine, Hans and Hidde on Frontex+ and finally, the cherry on top of the pie, Janneke, Elissavet and myself on ESMA.

Hint: the ESMA team will definitely keep up with the blog, since our master thesis topic are as well on this agency, so see you there!  

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Do’s and don’ts in Paris (while you’re on a moot court)

Utrecht University team in Paris
Being a European law student is not always easy, but it sure knows how to be rewarding. Among all the activities offered by the master programme, I would say that there is no other who comes close to the nerve-wrecking, race-against-the-time, enriching, fun, cool, travelling and network creating experience offered by the European Law Moot Court. I have felt honoured (and very challenged) to be a part of the team that represented Utrecht University in the Paris regional rounds. 

For all the freshers on moot courts, this one is the most prestigious in the field of European Law. The experience has started since last year in September, where we went through rigorous selection processes carried out by tutors and mentors, who of course did a wonderful job in hand picking what would be the greatest and funniest team in Paris. After that, we went through the written phase pleadings, which took us a greater number of preparation hours than any other imaginable course and various consultations with professors and experts on the field (including a trip to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The case was extremely complicated and everyone that we asked simply stood up with a thinking countenance in their faces slowly saying... “but this makes no sense”... We can call it whatever we want, but luck wasn’t on our side this year. Nevertheless I should say that my teammates Nicole, Daphnie and Hans were the perfect mates who made easy the process of crying on each other shoulders. And there it was, after submitting our written pleadings, the announcement of the winning teams was coming closer. We couldn’t believe we got through and as you can imagine, the preparations intensified immensely so that we could be shining in Paris!

The journey was equally interesting, beginning from the moment when Hans missed his train, to our feelings when we entered the hotel lobby and saw the nerdy faces of our opponents. Tomorrow was our pleading session and we had to be there since 8 in the morning. As you imagine, life in Paris while you’re doing such an important thing gets pretty hectic, although we would have loved a slow breakfast with hot chocolate and macarons. The European Law Moot Court is very competitive and only one team from 12 would go to the big final in Luxembourg. Even though we did our best and content wise we were close to perfect, we didn’t go through the second round. The bad news is that it was really disappointing, but the good news is that we were now allowed to drink our sorrows away and to finally have some fun.

One of the best parts was our culinary experience with the French cuisine. Starting from the little finger food, in rich banquets, where nobody understood what in the world they were eating (but only that it was delicious), coming to Quiche Lorraine, the beef tartars, les terrines du lapin, the delicious omelettes and the incomparable hot melted chocolate, everything was perfect and bubbly like the champagne.

First pleading round over!
Looking back, I really miss the days when we used to meet and discuss about the case and I feel that the same happened as well to my teammates. Call it post-moot temporary depression stage. In moot court competitions, you either make friends for life or enemies for life and I am glad that we belong at the first category. That is also thanks to the support of our coaches, Tony and Diane, who always made time for our delayed draft submissions and always gave the best practical advice.

If somebody is also considering joining the moot court competition, I’d say go for it and best of luck!