20 September 2018
John Ellis is a third year student on our LLB Law (Study Abroad) degree. He is spending his year studying at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He will be blogging regularly about his time there.

I have been excitedly waiting for two years for this fantastic opportunity to study abroad and I am determined to make the most out of this year abroad. For me, one year of additional studies is nothing in comparison to the unforgettable experiences that I will have living in a different country, integrating myself into a completely different culture, surroundings, and people. I’m excited to make new friends and jump headfirst into all the challenges that come from moving to a new place.

As I write this post, I have just completed my first week of lectures and work at VU, which offers a completely different challenge to my first two years of study at Lancaster. Perhaps the most glaringly different thing is the sheer scale of the university – it is enormous. It is situated next to VU Hospital, and is surrounded by big-city buildings, a far cry from the picturesque hillsides of Lancaster. As you enter the university’s building, you are surrounded by an array of signposts pointing to different floors, rooms, and lecture theatres throughout the campus. This,when combined with a lack of Dutch language skills, makes for a challenging introduction to campus life. But these are all challenges that I knew I would have when I came here for the year. I wanted to study abroad to test myself in a wholly new environment – a different culture, a new learning experience, and this is something that will help me to develop even more as a person following the conclusion of my studies here.

In that vein, one of the stand-out features for me when I decided to join VU Amsterdam for the year was the array of modules that I could select, many of which I have not had the chance to take during my time at Lancaster. Currently in my first term, I am taking two modules – Internet Governance, and Human Rights and the Border. When I saw that these two modules were something I could take up this year, I was hooked; the opportunity to get my teeth into two areas of the law which are evolving frequently was something that I could not miss. The chance to potentially carve out a greater understanding into what are particularly niche areas of the law is something that will help me to determine which area of the law I want to go into in the future

Whilst here, I have also been given the opportunity to broaden my horizons from a sporting perspective, having joined AH&BC Hockey Club for the upcoming season. For the many who don’t follow hockey, AH&BC (Amsterdam Hockey Club) is the oldest club in the Netherlands, and also one of the most successful in the world, producing Dutch national team players from their pool of youth players, some of whom I have the chance to train with this year. With 25 senior men’s teams and 17 senior women’s teams, coupled with a total of just under 80 youth and junior teams, it is clear there is a virtually overflowing pool of talent. It is by far and away the biggest club that I have ever had the opportunity to see first-hand, let-alone be a part of. I have been given the chance to play for the team in reserve of the first team, two rungs down in the club hierarchy in a team of young players all itching for a chance to impress and hopefully make their own mark on the first team in time. I want to push myself to become the best player that I can be during my time here.

I have always prided myself on being able to learn something from every experience that I have, good or bad. At the beginning of this year-long adventure, I am prepared to throw myself into a wide range of opportunities that will come my way. I will be writing regular blog posts on my experiences studying abroad at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I hope you enjoyed this first instalment and that you will enjoy reading about my adventures as much as I will enjoy living them!