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4 Things I Love About Studying Law

Datum:03 december 2020
Luc meeting his 'favourite' South African diplomat!
Luc meeting his 'favourite' South African diplomat!

Studying the LLB International and European Law at the University of Groningen has been an interesting experience full of interesting discussions and cool events. It is true, there are a lot of assignments, plenty of reading (as is evidenced with all the heavy textbooks) and numerous case studies but I love the subject and in the next 4 points, I will tell you why.

1. International Law is Weird

“Hello, and welcome to Introduction to International Law, it doesn’t exist.” – this is one of the first things our professors said as a joke, but it isn’t entirely wrong. International Law is a system of laws that exists without a formal law-making body or a government to enforce the law. In simple terms, this means that it operates differently to the typical legal systems many of us have in our own countries. For example, usually, if you do something illegal,  you can be punished according to the country’s law. Like if you run through a red light, the police can track you down and you will be subject to some sort of punishment. In international law, this doesn't exist. Even if a country did something wrong, generally they can only be punished if they agree to be. From a national mindset, this is crazy! Imagine being pulled over by the police, and then just saying, “thanks officer, but I don’t want to pay a fine…” And the police officer would have to accept it.

International law is unique and complex, full of customs and rules that don't seem that important, but actually create a network of practices that govern how countries decide things and act. Just because something might not traditionally exist, doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Like Santa Claus!

2. Debate

It might come as a shock, but law students love to argue. (Gasp!) “Luc, that can’t be true!” I can hear you say. But yes, law students love a good heated debate about current affairs or the weather… or puppies. Basically anything that can be debated, will be - which is something that I love about studying law, especially at the UG. We have so many international students which makes for a really diverse study environment with a variety of opinions. This diverse way of thinking is a huge help with studying law. Debating interesting issues ranging from UN Sanctions to the Law on the High Seas, has allowed me to expand my understanding of the subject as well as my overall general knowledge. My only advice is to remain open to different points of view, and don’t be afraid to share yours! 

3. Historical Events

I am a little bit of a history nerd so love learning about the past and how it relates to the present and future. Studying law provides plenty of opportunities to learn about the past which helps to better  understand how society works now. Many of today’s laws have roots in ancient ones as well as in early legal systems. An example is a lot of European civil law comes from Roman law and many countries around the world also use parts of Roman law in their own national legal systems. This makes history a big part of studying law and gives us the opportunity to learn about the world and how we fit into it.

4. Events

Finally, studying law at the UG is not only an academic experience, but also involves lots of exciting extracurricular events. An example is when ELSA (European Law Students Association) launched an event where different diplomats came to Groningen and gave presentations about what it’s like to work in the diplomatic field. This was really helpful because it showed a different career option than just working for an international company or organisation. Meeting diplomats from different countries was really interesting too and my favourite talk was given by the South African diplomat as that is my home country - so not biased at all!! :-) There are always interesting talks happening in Groningen hosted by student associations like SIB and ELSA who sometimes work with the university to provide fun discussions about real-world issues.

Studying International and European Law at the University of Groningen is diverse, challenging and engaging. I am really glad that I chose this degree as it is a subject which can open a lot of doors with the added bonus that studying international law means that you aren't bound to one legal system! Although I am not yet sure which direction I want to take career-wise, I am confident that this degree will help me on my path.

Over de auteur

Hi there! I am Luc, a South African student of International and European Law. In my spare time you will find me consuming Netflix, playing guitar and singing, cycling around, spending time with friends and whispering “what a cutie” to every dog and cat that happens to walk past me in Groningen!


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