Dec 1, 2016

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Julia Miklasova - report

TIME PERIOD OF YOUR STAY

August 2013 –  December 2013 

UNIVERSITY ATTENDED

Boston University (BU), Boston, Massachusetts, USA

FACULTY

Law

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS

Participating in an exchange programme in Boston was a truly unique experience. First of all, Boston is a very multicultural and vibrant city with many excellent academic and student facilities. Seen from this perspective, life in Boston was very student-friendly. Moreover, Boston itself has a lot to offer whether it is a rich history, cultural and sport life. Because of its medium size (when compared to other American cities), its subway system (the car is not an essential in Boston) and its characteristic post-colonial brick architecture, Boston’s atmosphere had a slightly European flavor. Living there made me experience best of two continents at the same time.

PREPARATION OF THE STAY

Visa: Regarding visa application process, it should be noted that it took the BU approximately one month from the submission of all documents (including the proof of funds) to issue the DS-2019 form which must be included in the visa application form. Therefore, I recommend provide the university with all the documents as soon as possible to avoid tight deadlines when applying for visa interview.

Health records and immunization requirements: The BU required all foreign students to submit their health and immunization records prior to their arrival in the USA. As I was not immunized against hepatitis B, I was obliged to undertake appropriate shots at the BU medical centre after my arrival in the USA.

Health insurance requirements: As all foreign students, I was required to purchase the BU health insurance coverage during my stay in the USA (approximately 700 USD).

Pre-selection of courses: I was required to make a preliminary course selection prior to my arrival in Boston. However, I completely changed my list during the first two weeks of the term called Add/Drop period when it was possible to visit classes and then decide whether to register for them or not. In addition, I had a number of meetings with Director and Vice-Director of the Office of the Graduate and International Programs who were very helpful in advising me which courses would fit my academic objectives the best.

ARRIVAL

n/a

ACCOMODATION SEARCH

I started looking for accommodation in July and was lucky to find a room rather quickly. However, other students had problems to find accommodation even at the beginning of the semester. Therefore, I recommend starting searching as soon as possible.

I used web portal roomates.com (paid 20 USD fee for registration). Other students used craigslist and also got in touch with each other via our BU exchange and LLM students facebook page. Ultimately, I rented a room in a retired lady’s house in Charlestown for 800 USD per month, but prices vary between 800 and 1200 USD. Rented apartments are usually unfurnished and thus it is necessary to expect additional cost.

Despite Charlestown was relatively far from the BU (40 minutes by subway) and most of my classmates lived in Allston or Brighton, I appreciated living there very much. I lived in the house built in the 19th century and in the district full of American history (close to Bunker Hill monument and the USS Constitution). Moreover, despite age difference I became a very good friend with my land-lady and keep in touch with her even after my return to Europe.

UNIVERSITY LIFE

Academia: When selecting my classes, I primarily aimed at deepening my specialization in International Law, while striking balance between various examination methods (papers/exams) and between regular J.D. upper classes (International Law, International Human Rights, Comparative Law) and courses specifically designed for the LLMs (Legal Writing and Research Seminar). I particularly enjoyed the Law School’s Socrates method (critical discussions between tutor and students about doctrines, case-law and academic articles) as well as the atmosphere allowing to approach professors after the class for a more informal discussions on the topics from the International Law.

University staff: I highly appreciate the professionalism of the BU staff, especially the Office of the Graduate and International Programs’ employees who were very helpful in academic advising. They also organized many events for the exchange and the LLM students to provide us with the possibility to get to know each other and enhance the sense of the BU community (orientation week, lobster dinner, many “coffee and cookies meetings”). In addition, the Law School had an excellent library and library staff who was always keen on helping with any research question.

FREE TIME AND SOCIAL LIFE

The sense of belonging to the community was particularly strong at the BU. This feeling was enhanced by a very active student association which organized number of events including weekly student gatherings and big opening semester and Halloween party.

Boston’s great location made it easy to travel from there to New York by bus. Me and other classmates, we travelled to New York to participate in the American Society of International Law’s conference taking place at the New York University. This extraordinary opportunity allowed us to informally discuss some of the International Law issues with the president of the International Court of Justice and some of world renowned scholars. In addition, we made a trip to Cape Cod where we took part in a traditional yearly oyster festival.

MISCELLANEOUS

The exchange semester at the BU valuably contributed to my academic growth. I significantly deepened my knowledge of International Law and in particular the US’s position on many pressing issues in this discipline. This knowledge will be beneficial for my future career in a long-term perspective. In addition, in a short-term, I intend to write an article using knowledge gained at BU to enrich the Slovak scholarship in the area of International Law.

Julia Miklasova - photos

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