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After studying at an American law school for two years, I decided to spend my fifth semester away from home and was fortunate to accept a study abroad position at Queen’s University. While I have studied abroad several times before, this was my first experience studying within the UK and Northern Ireland more specifically.

Queen’s was warm and welcoming from the moment that I stepped off of my plane, providing me with assistance and friendliness in my new environment from the very first moments. I remember student volunteers rushing to take my bags to be loaded onto vans which would soon take me and my new fellow classmates to Queen’s University. The students were very kind and helpful and made sure that my transition to Queen’s would be as smooth as possible.

Apart from the general friendliness of the students and faculty, there are several observations from my time here at Queen’s that deserve special recognition. First, although I was able to view the university online before actually arriving, the online pictures of the campus simply cannot do the university proper justice. By this, I mean that the school is of the most beautiful institutions in which I have ever had the privilege to study. The Lanyon building stands apart from the rest, as it manages to maintain its older, ornate cultural value while also being equipped with all of the modern fixings! This is what people see on the brochures, but it is far from all that Queen’s has to offer in terms of beauty. As a law student, I was fortunate to be one of the first students to ever have the opportunity to study at the newly-built law school, an impressive building equipped with moot courtrooms, a stylish exterior, embellished with technology to aid students in their learning and—oh, let’s not forget to mention—a wonderful coffee shop which towers above many other local coffee shops with regards to crafting their Americanos.

Queen’s certainly has a myriad of beautiful facilities, but their investment in technology and innovation has also not gone unnoticed. The McClay Library is one of the most modern, advanced libraries in which I have ever had the pleasure to study. The most obvious attraction—the C.S. Lewis Reading Room—is absolutely breath-taking, capturing many of the themes of C.S. Lewis’ illustrious writing career. This room is literally one-of-a-kind. But that is not all that the McClay Library has to offer. The Library is equipped with technology that allows students to check out books without the use of a librarian. You grab your book, you place it under a scanner with your Queen’s card, and you’re done! It’s one of the most simple, yet powerful tools that I have come across in a library. But if on the off chance you have to speak with one of the librarians regarding an issue or research question that you may have, fear not, as all of the librarians that I encountered have welcomed my questions and were happy to take as much time as necessary to help me with the issue(s) that I was having. The McClay Library is special and comes fully-loaded with resources that help to ensure the success of Queen’s students.

Finally, I want to briefly touch on the quality of scholarship and teaching here at Queen’s. I took three courses this semester: Issues in Corporate Governance, European Constitutional Law, and an independent research course where I analysed an environmental legal question which has always fascinated me. One of the unique things about Queen’s for me as an American student is that there is usually more than one professor teaching the module, giving students multiple perspectives while maintaining the extraordinary quality of teaching. For example, my Issues in Corporate Governance class is taught by two remarkable professors—Professors Ciara Hackett and Ciarán O’Kelly. I must admit, I was nervous about taking a class on corporations, as I have always found that my interests lie more within public law than private corporate law. However, both Professor Hackett and Professor O’Kelly were able to convey extremely complex and difficult material that made me question my own biases on the subject. The course was certainly difficult and required much time and effort on my part, but I now feel that I have a well-developed foundation for understanding corporate governance issues and can speak about issues from multiple perspectives.

I want to thank Queen’s University, the faculty, and the students for welcoming me to their institution with such open arms. I will always remember fondly my time here at Queen’s and am sad to be departing. To anyone considering making the move to Queen’s—whether for a semester or for their entire degree program—I highly recommend the institution, as their commitment to technology, beautiful campus, extraordinary professors and scholarship, and the warm, welcoming nature of the students will make it well worth your time.


Zach Smith

J.D. Washington University School of Law ‘17

B.A. Wake Forest University ‘13