Queen’s JD student builds international network through Swedish exchange
(February 24, 2017)
Samantha Wollaston, Law’17, has been on her own royal tour. She returned to Queen’s in January after spending the fall studying in a historic 17th century building in the country officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden. Joining about 130 other foreign students on exchange at Uppsala University, she not only expanded her legal knowledge but also experienced both professional and personal growth.
“I went on exchange because I thought of it as an opportunity of a lifetime,” Wollaston says as she ponders her future. “Between writing the bar, articling, beginning my career and possibly starting a family, I was unsure if I would have the opportunity to live alone in a different country ever again.”
At Uppsala, Wollaston took seminar-style courses with class sizes ranging from 15 to 25. Attendance is mandatory as these classes frequently focus on group discussion. Assessment is usually done through two to four short papers. “I learned about many different legal perspectives,” she describes. “It was very interesting to compare our Canadian legal system with various other systems on a wide-array of topics.”
Exchange students have the opportunity to network with other international students and to pair up with a Swedish buddy during orientation week. “The people I met were my favourite part of exchange by far,” Wollaston continues. “I was able to learn about so many cultures and experience spending time with amazing individuals from all over the world. Having to say goodbye was difficult, but I know that I made many deep friendships with memories that will last a lifetime.”
Wollaston strongly recommends this opportunity to future students. Describing Sweden as “a beautiful and safe country,” she says that the exchange built her self-confidence and taught her a lot about herself. “It forced me to live outside my comfort zone. Travelling alone, I had to become comfortable approaching new people to make friends."
That she did as the only Canadian in her program and the only person in her friend-group who was a native English-speaker. “I began making a conscious effort to actively listen while thoughtfully choosing my own language to communicate meaningfully with others. Navigating a completely new place is a huge accomplishment and very rewarding.”
By Anthony Pugh