What year is best to be an exchange student for someone studying to be a lawyer?
I’m going into my sophomore year of high school and have plans to go into law. It is also really important to me to be an exchange student, preferably in a country with a native language other than English. I think it is important for someone who hopes to practice law to be able to experience the world outside of the United States, to be able to broaden my views and perspectives. I’m wondering both “Which year would be recommended to go?” And “where would you recommend?”
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If you want to be strategic, you could choose a country based on the language that you believe most of your future clients could speak. (Ex; if you like international business law, then Chinese or German could serve you well). However, traveling is about getting to know another culture for enjoyment, so hopefully you can visit a nation that interests you.
I think either Senior year or a gap year before law school would be ideal, but right now there are a lot of other factors that may limit your choices during the pandemic. Having a global perspective on life is an amazing trait that will benefit your future job, and overall outlook in life. Props to you for being forward thinking!
In terms of timing, I’m a fan of your junior year of college, but I’m not sure there is really a wrong choice. Junior year can strike a nice balance, though. You’ve had freshman year to get used to living on your own and handling college classes and sophomore year to “find your groove” as a college student. By junior year, you’ll likely be a bit more independent and hopefully a bit more confident In your academics. However, don’t just take my word for it. As you’re deciding on which college to attend, let admissions know how important studying abroad is to you so that they can get you the right information on their programs. When you start your freshman year at Your Dream University, make an appointment with your academic advisor right away. Your advisor is there to make sure you’re progressing towards your goals in a way that works well. They can help you integrate time abroad into your plan, and figure out what schedule of time abroad would work best for your course.
In terms of where to go, I don’t think there is a perfect, easy answer there either. I again applaud you for wanting to experience somewhere where English is not the native language. Do you speak or have you studied another language? If you’re *studying* abroad, you’ll have to be able to survive your classes in whatever native language the country you choose uses. That will be tough if you’re figuring out a new language as you go. Once you know you can understand your studies, there are two approaches you can take. 1) go to a country with a legal system that has many similarities to the US. You’ll be able to draw comparisons and it’ll be easier to pull out cultural nuances in how law is carried out there versus here. That means, probably, a more thorough understanding of the content of your study. 2) go to a country that has a vastly different legal system than the US. You’ll learn a completely different system which will likely influence your perspective a lot. It may sway your opinions in a whole other direction than you were expecting. That means, probably, more content to learn and more independent thinking needed on your part. Try doing some research in your free time and get a couple lists going for option 1 Vs option 2. Which countries end up on your lists may help you decide where to go.
Best wishes to you, Olive! Enjoy your world!
I would advise planning to study abroad the fall semester of your junior year. As Alison noted in her answer, focusing your first year and sophomore year on campus will help you acclimate to college life and build relationships. By the beginning of junior year, you'll probably have your major set, which will help you choose a study abroad program that will allow you to earn enough credits for graduation.
Additionally, I would also note that the work/research/internship you do the summer between junior and senior year is important for securing your post-graduation job or acceptance to a graduate program. If you study abroad in the fall of junior year, you will be back in U.S. timezones during the spring semester when you will be applying for summer work.