Being slightly older than her fellow students, Sinéad Haywood (26), a first-year European Law School student from the United Kingdom, was used to the effort and work needed in the PBL system. “I had friends who studied here a few years ago and I’d also lived and worked with a lot of international people in my previous job, so PBL and the international character were two of the biggest reasons I came here. I’d also been in roles before where I had to chair meetings so it wasn't a shock at all. I’ve really enjoyed my first year here, the course is very interesting.” Of course there are some modules she doesn’t like but, as she sees it, they just need to be done in order to progress to the more interesting modules.
Reflecting on her first year, Haywood thinks the group of students she studies with are a good mix of nationalities. “There are a few more German students than others but nothing like I hear from other faculties. My classes have been incredibly mixed – there have been Greek, Italian, Irish, English, Finnish, Bulgarian, Polish, French and Belgian students.”
She feels that this is very beneficial to a course like European Law. “It makes the tutorial group discussions very interesting as we can get a good variety of opinions from various cultural backgrounds. It’s also relevant given the fact that we study several legal systems at a time. It’s useful to get the views of people from the places we’re studying.” Some of this is even incorporated into the course; recently she had to complete a group project in which each member had to be from somewhere different.
But could the faculty do more to encourage international students to mix with each other? “You do see some friendship groups based on shared nationality, but my group of friends is very mixed.” She lives with Dutch and German students, and prefers this to living with other students from the UK. But when she saw the associations in the law faculty at the beginning of the year, it wasn’t quite what she expected, “I found them quite Dutch oriented, but that’s fine because I made my own friends very quickly.”
Haywood speaks German, which has helped her a lot here, but she hasn’t done a Dutch course just yet. “It’s quite hard to learn it here if you don't take classes. I try to speak Dutch day to day but most people reply in English.”