Dare to be free, dare to go as far as your thought leads, and dare to carry that out in your life.
I am a 24 years old, and although a Russian according to my passport, I am a global citizen by character. With this testimonial, I would like to share my unforgettable experience as an LL.M. student.
I first discovered the challenging world of international law during my Bachelor`s programme in Moscow. Subsequently, I was given a unique opportunity to apply this knowledge to practice during an internship at the United Nations Office in Vienna, where I was part of the legal team that keeps a record of material damage in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Needless to say, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, during which I gained practical work experience, made friends from all over the world, and, most importantly, discovered my true passion for international law. How do you hold a state accountable for breach of international norms? What do multinational corporations have to do with international human rights law? I wanted to explore all these things, and much more, in depth depth, and that is why I decided to pursue an LL.M. degree. And what better place to study international law than in the home country of its founder Hugo Grotius?
Receiving the letter of acceptance from Erasmus University was one the most exciting days of my life. Without any doubt, this master raised my perception and knowledge of law to a whole new level. Every lecture or written assignment was an opportunity be creative and to think outside the box. I remember how anxious I was at the beginning: meeting fellow students for the first time, listening to the first lecture entirely in English, and submitting the first written assignment. But the common denominator for all these things were the exceptional professors that taught us during the year: they were always there to encourage, to answer any questions, and to point us in the right research direction. The teaching approach is different from the one in Russian universities: in The Netherlands, you are given much more independence and freedom of choice, but this also means taking full responsibility for your actions and for any missed deadlines. Our faculty has done an amazing job at keeping our course interactive and enjoyable: this included study visits to such prominent places as the Peace Palace and the International Criminal Court; arranged guest lectures with legal practitioners; and of course I cannot forget the fun part, which we certainly enjoyed at the Christmas dinner party.
Of course, one should not forget the vibrant and welcoming Rotterdam atmosphere, which cannot be compared to anything else. Moscow is diverse and energising, Vienna is dignified and artistic, but Rotterdam is all these things and much more. The best plan for a weekend is to get on your bike and explore the hidden Rotterdam gems. But living here is not just about discovering the city and getting your degree; it is also about getting to know the locals. Dutch people are very open and easy-going, and they made me feel very welcome; I found some of my closest friends here. We have had so much fun together that I have not even had time to feel homesick.
Following graduation, I feel that there is an ocean of possibilities out there, and I cannot wait to explore it. I would love to continue the Dutch journey, and to fulfill myself professionally here as well. Erasmus taught me to be courageous and ambitious, and not afraid to stand out in a crowd. This master year gave me so many opportunities and life lessons, and I wish all the newcomers the same possibility. I strongly encourage all future LL.M. participants to go for every opportunity that comes your way, and to make the most of what Erasmus has to offer; you will not regret it.
I would like to leave you with this thought: Dare to be free, dare to go as far as your thought leads, and dare to carry that out in your life.