Period on Exchange: Semester 2, 2011

What courses did you study?

  • International Economic Law
  • International Trade Litigation
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Human Rights
  • Mining Law
  • Competitor in the ELSA World Trade Organization Moot
  • Coach of the Arnup/Sopinka Trial Advocacy Cup

Why did you choose that university?

I wanted to study in Canada and I was selected for Queen’s by a stroke of luck. I was lucky because Kingston is a 3 hour drive from Toronto, 2 hours from Ottawa, 3 hours from Montreal, and 2 hours to Syracuse, New York.

How does studying law overseas compare to studying at UNSW?

UNSW’s teaching method is comparable with Queen’s and other high-ranked universities worldwide. However, we have much to learn from other institutions. For instance: 

  • Exams are conducted on laptops.
  • Lecturers often require students to meet with them one-on-one outside class hours to help their development.
  • The Faculty provides more mooting opportunities.
  • The Socratic teaching style of requiring student participation is much more rigorous.

Queen’s also has a number of specialisations, including international trade law, correctional law and Canadian constitutional law.

What was the cost of living compared to Australia?

It was much cheaper. The Australian dollar is generally at parity with the Canadian dollar but the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar is far greater. Rent for a month in a share house 5 minutes from campus is around $500 a month (all inclusive) and there are plenty of ways to save costs through second hand bicycles on, ride-sharing to travel between cities, subsidised social events, etc. You can also prepare yourself in advance to save on currency conversion fees by getting a 28 Degrees MasterCard, which allows you to withdraw money overseas at the wholesale exchange rate (as opposed to the retail exchange rate at currency exchange tellers) without any transaction fees (except the fee for ATM charges, if any).

What was your accommodation arrangement?

I stayed in a share house with a Swedish and a Canadian girl. My Canadian housemate actually furnished my room for free in her spare time in the first two weeks. Rent was $500 per month.

What were the highlights of your experience?

I competed in an international moot coached by one of the sharpest and finest legal minds in the country. It developed my technical legal skills profoundly and I ended up travelling to Washington DC where I met teams from all across North and South America. Two of my friends from law school (twins with red hair) invited me to their family home in rural Ontario. Their loving, generous, quirky family adopted me as one of their own over Christmas. It was like something out of Harry Potter.

What were the main challenges you faced, if any?

Budgeting and planning is very important. While it is important to do everything you can while you’re a student and abroad, sometimes you will have to draw a line to keep solvent.

Jermir Punthakey