Dec 1, 2016

The founding principle of all the activities of Zdenek and Michaela Bakala is, truly, the courage, which must, according to their belief, always go hand in hand with responsibility.
Visit site Bakala Philanthropy.

English   |   Français

Anina Dalbert - report

TIME PERIOD OF YOUR STAY

August 2014 – January 2015

UNIVERSITY ATTENDED

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

FACULTY 

International Law

GENERAL IMPRESSIONS

I really enjoyed my semester at Fletcher. I think I learned as much from meeting people form all over the world as from the classes themselves. At Fletcher most students have prior work experience of 2 to 7 years or even more. In my opinion this made the discussions in class extremely interesting and led to a good mixture of academic and professional experience.

Due to the fact that the teaching style and so on at the Graduate Institute in Geneva are rather close to the American one it wasn’t to challenging to adopt to American student life.

PREPARATION OF THE STAY

I started to prepare for my stay relatively early. As soon as I knew that I was nominated for an exchange semester (around mid March) I started with the application at Fletcher. I needed an acceptance letter as well as some additional documents in order to start the visa process. The amount of time it takes to gather al the relevant documents to finalize the visa application and to then visit the embassy in Bern should not be underestimated. The earlier one can start the better.

ARRIVAL

I arrived in Boston two weeks prior to orientation week. This allowed me to settle in a little ad visit some old friends. I would certainly recommend attending orientation week or any kind of introduction that is provided by the host university even if it is not mandatory. This is a great way to get to know the institution and facilities as well as to meet new students. 

ACCOMODATION SEARCH

Concerning housing, if one prefers living off campus I would highly recommend to join the facebook group as well as to contact someone at Fletcher to gain access to the so called "social list" a list serve that is sent to all the students. There you can find all available rooms in apartments or houses around the campus with other students from Fletcher.

I was renting a room with "at home in Boston". The price was fair (housing is very expensive in the area) and the location was great, however I wasn't too happy with the host and I would have preferred to live with other students. Cost of living is similar to Geneva; however especially at the beginning of the semester there are some additional expenses for books and so on, which should not be underestimated.

UNIVERSITY LIFE

One of the things I liked most about Fletcher is that the students are not competitive but rather cooperative. For many classes reading or study groups are mandatory, but in others students often choose to build one anyways. Law classes are a bit of an exception in that regard as they generally don’t require as much group work.

In addition to my classes I was participating in a project of both LIDS (Law and International Development Society) and the Human Rights Advocates at Harvard. For LIDS I was working on a comparative memorandum concerning legal aid and the bar association in Afghanistan with Germany, the US and Turkey. In addition to that I was working on a consulting project with the Harvard Law School Human Rights Advocates. We were reviewing teaching plans for the Helen Suzmann Foundation concerning constitutional education in South Africa. While I really enjoyed both of these and learned a lot, it was a lot of additional work. Since the application process only begins once the semester started most of the work will take place in the second half and towards the end of the semester on top of the final exams…

FREE TIME AND SOCIAL LIFE

Fletcher has a very vibrant student body. The students are in general very open minded and welcoming. There are a lot of extremely interesting events both at Fletcher as well as at other universities such as Harvard that are rather close. Once a week a so called social hour takes place on campus. This is a great opportunity to learn about the different student organizations and their activities as well as to meet with everyone. In general there are many great student clubs which are always welcoming new members.

Boston’s great location made it very convenient to travel to other great cities on the East Coast during long weekends. Tufts also has a beautiful Lodge in New Hampshire that is great for hiking during Indian Summer or also for winter sports.

The gym on campus is quite nice and there are various other gyms and yoga studios in the area. I joined a climbing gym that offers special student deals. There was a group of climbers at Fletcher and we would always email each other when someone was going climbing.

MISCELLANEOUS

I highly appreciate that I had this unique opportunity and I certainly learned a lot during my semester in the Boston. I almost with I could have stayed longer, since time flew by really fast and because it always takes a while to figure out how things work at a new university and to meet new friends. I sincerely hope I can go back to visit all the great people I met during my stay. 

 


© Fondation Zdenek et Michaela Bakala