London. What a whirlwind of a semester. The experiences are full of memories that will last a lifetime yet it all happened so fast I feel like I blinked and it was over. Being back in Baltimore, especially with the extremely cold weather and not lots of snow, I really miss London. I miss hopping on the double decker bus to sweep me off to somewhere or pushing on to a crowded Tube (who would’ve thought I’d miss that?!) to go up to Camden and grab something fresh from a street market. I miss the promise of finding a new pub, a new shop, a new secret with every corner you turn. Maybe Baltimore will hold these promises, once I am able to walk down the streets more than a block before hitting a wall of snow.
So, where I left off with my last blog, Ruby and I spent a week in Italy, sipping wine and eating all the pasta, pizza, and gelato we could handle. We visited Rome, Pompeii, Florence, and Venice. Italy is most definitely one of the culture capitals of the world with enough history to last a lifetime.
My parents came to visit me in early November – we went to Leeds Castle, the Cliffs of Dover, and Canterbury Cathedral on a day trip. I took them around to see as much of the city as possible, but they were only there for such a short time and naturally it poured at least half of the time they were there. It made me wish they could’ve stayed longer, a week or two! My mom loves traveling; it’s where I get my passion for it.
I spent a weekend in Paris – I took the bus, terrible idea. I saved money but after taking it, would’ve much rather sprung for the train. I was able to see the catacombs, go to the Summit of the Eiffel Tower, visit the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa. Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks occurred that same evening so the rest of the weekend was spent wandering the streets but everything was closed and locked down. I went to the Place de la Republique where a memorial had been created for those lost in the Charlie Hebdo incident and regained vigor for those who were lost in the recent tragic events. A powerful thing – seeing the love and unity pouring out for those lost, the statute with an X across her mouth, what I felt represented the lives silenced by tragedy.
I did a daytrip to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, and Bath with Ruby. Stonehenge is very incredible, so random that it is literally in a field in the country. So many mysteries! We were able to see an original copy of the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral, which was very interesting. Also, Bath was a great town. I wish we could’ve spent an entire day there, exploring the markets, the Roman Baths, and the city! On our last day of classes, Ruby and I went to celebrate by treating ourselves to some VERY expensive drinks at one of the many bars at the top of the Shard. The view was more than worth it. Pure glass windows and you could see all of London sparkling beneath your feet and for miles around.
I traveled to Ireland for a week. What a magical trip. I couldn’t have asked for a much better group of people or a better tour guide or a better place. I loved Ireland so much that I even looked up how to be a lawyer there – yes, I really did. The vibrancy of the people, the city, the music; it felt like home.
I spent Christmas Day with my friend Rachel and we had an elegant four course Indian meal with cinnamon Bellinis. Probably one of the most untraditional yet grandest Christmases I’ve had in awhile. It was a bit spooky walking around London after that (it was one of my last full days in the city so I took a bit to revisit some old haunts). The city was quiet, so many less cars on the street than usual, so many less people (minus tourists), no busses, and no tubes. Eerie. I went on a daytrip the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, to Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, we drove through the Cotswolds, saw Warwick Castle and did a walking tour of Oxford (but it was dark, still beautiful though).
After that, I headed to Scotland for a small trip around to the Isle of Sky, Loch Ness and eerie Glencoe. I finished my trip off by spending Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) in Edinburgh, which was incredible but crowded, and almost everything I had hoped for – I wish I could’ve seen more of the bands. I met some great people on this trip as well and even bumped into some of the friends I had made in Ireland! I left back for London on the first, packed up my flat and left bright and early for the States on the 2nd. Whirlwind trip, I tell you, whirlwind.
All of these opportunities were only afforded to me because I was allowed to study abroad. I made friends from all over the world: England, Ireland, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Australia, France, and many more. I learned about the legal system that helped to create our very own legal system – the English common law. I’ve learned how other countries handle things like learning about foreign legal systems, focusing on international perspectives, and things that are flawed compared to our system and other things that could help boost our system. I leapt into areas of law I’d never delved before – family, company, and labour (England’s version of employment). I embraced new teaching styles – from the broad lecturer, to the intimate class discussion, to the merry-go-round style where every student’s voice is heard. Studying abroad helped me grow as a person – I have become more independent and confident, I have realized through my travels and explanations to fellow classmates that I have a great grasp on our own American legal system, and I know that someday, I will be a great lawyer if I keep building on the skills that I developed at University of Baltimore and let flourish while I was at King’s College London. I also think that the semester study abroad that I completed really helps fulfill my concentration in international law, giving me a truly international perspective. While there were some academic things I would’ve changed for study abroad students in London, the experiences and knowledge I’ve gained far outweigh any of the minimal drawbacks. I encourage everyone to get out and spread their wings, even if it’s the summer program in Aberdeen, the winter program in Curacao, or a semester (or a year!) abroad.
Ali Rickart is a 3L student at the University of Baltimore School of Law, spending her Fall semester at King’s College London. She is a Student Fellow with the Center for International and Comparative Law, whrere her work with Track Impunity Always was highlighted in a Daily Record article last year.