Embarking on an LLM (Master of Laws) program:

The top 5 hurdles for international students to overcome 

Moving abroad to study is a bold step for many students and requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone to take a leap forward. The decision itself is tough to make and many students may have reservations before leaving their home countries. In fact, there are many impediments which students may face before taking off to a foreign country to pursue a Master of Laws. This article examines the Top 5 hurdles faced by international students wanting to study for the LLM and suggests how these hurdles may be overcome in order to make the dream a reality.

Top 5 Hurdles for International students to overcome

Costs and Finances

A major factor which deters many students from applying for an LLM program is the cost associated with the course. The tuition fees in the UK and USA are high, and living abroad for the duration of the course adds to the expenses. The cost factor discourages many students from even making their application due to concerns that the program is not affordable.

While there is no denying the fact that the cost of an LLM is substantial, we strongly recommend that students take into account ways of overcoming this obstacle. Yes, it is possible! There are many universities that offer bursaries, grants and scholarships for LLM students. These bursaries and scholarships are categorised according to financial need, as well as academic merit, or a combination of both. Many universities run country specific scholarship schemes or may award scholarships to students from commonwealth countries or developing countries.

Many countries have government-run scholarship schemes for nationals of the country so students can contact the education ministry of their home country to find out more about the scholarships on offer. Schemes such as Cheving Scholarships, Rhodes Scholarship and Fulbright Awards to study in the USA are extremely prestigious. The competition for the scholarships is very strong but our advice is not to be discouraged and keep applying! Do not think that other applicants will be better than you because you never know what may appeal to the decision panel!

It is important to keep all your avenues for funding open, as well as calculate the costs you think you will personally incur. Then try to work around the estimated cost.

Foreign Language

Initially it can be difficult to study and live in a country where the spoken language is not your native language. If fears of not being able to effectively communicate in the language are stopping you from pursuing the LLM, there are a number of ways you can overcome them. If you come from an English-speaking country, the simplest way is to select a university located in a country in which English is the native language. This may be England, Scotland, USA, CanadaAustralia or New Zealand. Alternatively you could select a school specifically for English speakers despite being in another country.

There may also be the possibility of taking language courses and investing time in intensive language study to ensure that you are familiar with the language before starting your LLM.

If you are an overseas student coming to the UK to study your Master of Laws you will already have had to prove a certain level of fluency in order to be accepted onto the course. Moving to the country and fully immersing yourself in the course will improve your spoken English even more which will be an invaluable asset in the future.

Finding the right university and the right course

For many students an obstacle is indecisiveness regarding what degree to pursue or what field to specialise in. There are many specialisations available to study at LLM level, however for those who wish to gain a Master of Laws without wanting to limit themselves to a particular field can opt for a general LLM. If you are planning on specialising it may be a good idea to take some time out to gain work experience in your chosen field of specialisation

Location is also an important consideration to some students. Whether you’re more suited to a city environment or a more rural campus university can also play an important part in both your success and happiness on your course so make sure you work out what study environment suits you best.   

Confidence to live alone

The thought of being anyway from home can also serve as a deterrent when contemplating study abroad options. While it is natural to feel like you will be alone once you arrive at your new university – this is a mistake. In reality you are likely to stay in student accommodation or shared housing where you’ll be able to meet like-minded students, many of whom will be in exactly the same situation as you and who will also be hoping to make new friends and find a family away from home too. It is important that you approach your new living situation with a positive mindset and make sure you make the effort to mingle with flat mates or people in your building.

Studying abroad is a challenge, but a challenge demonstrates that you have the flexibility to adapt to circumstances outside of your comfort zone and succeed. This will stand you in good stead in the future and put you at a distinct advantage when it is time to seek employment.

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of living abroad, it’s not a bad challenge, it’s a good one!

Culture shock and living as a minority

Culture shock and adjustment issues also frighten students away from reaching out to their dreams. The best way to deal with this is to submerge yourself in the new culture, instead of running away from it. Do not limit yourself to only making friends with people from your home country, despite this being a natural reaction as you may be more at ease with them. Although it is a good idea to join a student group comprising of students from your home country who you can meet up with to feel connected to home and counter home sickness, it also essential that you experience new things, new foods, new music and make new friends during your time abroad.

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