OzTREKK student reflects on his time at the University of Newcastle Law School
15 April 2020
What better way to find out about the experience international students have at the Newcastle Law School than to let them tell you themselves!
Aurora, Ontario native Dave Lotimer applied via OzTREKK, began his studies in 2011, and has since graduated with a Bachelor of Laws. This is his experience!
Why did you want to become a lawyer?
Law has always been an interest of mine. I believe it plays an important role in the progression and protection of personal, public and natural rights. I wanted to understand this role better and to actively participate in shaping its direction. I was always one to follow rules as well….
What made you choose Australia as the place to earn your degree?
I have a great interest in travel and culture, and had been searching for a productive way to live in another country. Australia offered the opportunity of a great education that was transferable back to Canada, while also providing a foreign place to explore and discover.
Why did you choose the University of Newcastle Law School?
The Newcastle Law School offered both academic and practical education. I was able to work through my law degree while gaining work experience and practical training. This allowed me to graduate with both my Bachelor of Laws, and a Diploma of Legal Practice. I wanted to gain full legal accreditation and was admitted to the NSW Court even prior to the graduation ceremony.
The University of Newcastle’s location was also a strong factor in my decision to attend. I wanted to participate in the ocean lifestyle and was looking for a city that felt like a smaller community; Newcastle offered both of these.
What was the course like? Describe your typical day.
The course required a very strong commitment to study; however, with organization it was possible to achieve a work/life balance.
I would typically wake up early in order to walk to campus. I often would take my bike or skateboard to class, or the train in bad weather. There were usually several hours of lecturing, with an hour or two break in between. Once classes ended in the afternoon I would usually take part in some kind of physical activity, usually surfing. Sometimes I would attend committee meetings, or some other event before heading back home for dinner. The evenings were usually filled with further study, to work on upcoming assignments or to keep up with readings. I would try to find an hour before bed to unwind and catch up with my housemates when I could.
What has been your favourite part? Least favourite part? Most surprising?
My favourite part of the program was the relationships I was able to form. I made some great friends in the program who were invaluable when it came to group work and discussion. They also became the most important part of my life outside of the classroom. I also really enjoyed the relationships I formed with the faculty. Almost universally, they were very willing to give up their time in order to help in my understanding. They were caring and passionate, and helped to foster my love of academics and the law.
My least favourite part was the effort and commitment that is required to succeed. I often found myself feeling as though I was missing out on exploring Australia due to my educational commitments. I was happy when breaks in the semester arrived so I could enjoy life outside of school.
Did you join any clubs/activities? Should future students consider joining clubs?
I took part in several committees including the University of Newcastle Law Students Association as an international student representative and the Business and Law Faculty Committee on Internationalization. I was also a member of the law review band and performed at several law school events. I learned how to surf and would try to catch a wave at least three or four times a week. I also attended the university gym often and took part in intramural sport. I would highly recommend that future students make use of the many opportunities that are available to them. It is an important way to expand your social network, deepen your understanding of a different culture and broaden your international education experience.
How was it to find accommodation?
Finding accommodation was slightly difficult, although there was a great housing department on campus that offered some great advice and help. I would suggest that students attempt to see as many places as possible before they make their decision. Living in a shared house with Australians is also a great way to further expand your international experience and a great way to make friends.
How is Australia the same/different from Canada?
There are a lot of similarities in culture and lifestyle. It is really the subtle differences that become clearer and clearer the longer you live away from home. I also think similarities and differences will be unique to each individual depending upon their particular situation.
I found the people of Australia to be incredibly caring and generous. I loved spending time on the ocean and in bright, warm sunshine during the middle of winter. Those were uniquely Australian experiences from my perspective.
Do you have advice for Canadian students who would like to study law?
Follow your own path. Trust your instincts and believe in your abilities. Work hard to achieve your goals and truly respect and value the people who support you.
Do you have any articling advice? Do you plan to come back to Canada to practice law?
I do plan on practicing law in Canada and have found an articling position since returning home. Legal work experience is very important, as it can help to differentiate between Canadian- and foreign-trained candidates. It is also important to do as well as you can in school—marks are not everything but they can be a key to opening the first few doors. The more you learn abroad, the better suited you are to provide a unique approach to the law here in Canada. It is also important to show diversity in your life through extracurricular commitments and to develop a broad network. Finally, be yourself; it is obvious when someone is genuine.
What did you think of OzTREKK’s services?
OzTREKK was a great resource for me. They made the process of applying to Australian law schools much easier, and maintained dialogue with me through the entire process. They provided an understanding of my particular needs, and were able to answer all of my questions. It is a service I would recommend to any student who plans to apply to Australian universities.
About the University of Newcastle Law Program
Program:Juris Doctor & Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice Location: Newcastle (Callaghan) / online Duration: 3 years Semester intakes: February and July each year Application deadline: There is no official application deadline. You are encouraged to apply at least three months prior to the program’s start date.
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