Studying abroad in Hong Kong was one of the best (if not THE best decision I made in law school). Not only have I gotten a unique experience that many other American law students will never have, but I also am (1) taking international business classes not offered at BU, (2) traveling around Asia (five countries and counting), (3) making connections with other international attorneys and business individuals and (4) having a wonderful end to three (long) years in law school (not counting the four years of my undergraduate degree).
The following blog entry focuses primarily on Hong Kong University (HKU) where I am currently an exchange student. This semester I am the only exchange student from BU.
Class Schedule: My class schedule at HKU is perfect for traveling/exploring Hong Kong. I only have class Monday – Wednesday. My classes are three hours long, but this means that I only have each class once a week. The other international law students have similar schedules. Many of us have taken the long weekend (especially at the beginning of the semester) to travel. Because I am taking Master’s level courses (law in Hong Kong and many other countries is an undergraduate degree), my classes are in the evening. My earliest class is at 2:00pm (then I have six hours of class on this day), but most of my classes start at 6:00pm or 6:30pm and go until 9:00pm or 9:30pm. In addition to the long weekends, HKU has many breaks during the Spring Semester. This is mostly because Hong Kong celebrates both English and Chinese Holidays. Thus, we have a week off for Chinese New Year, Spring Break (they call it Reading Week) and a few days off for Easter. For the international students, this means we are able to travel around Asia or explore Hong Kong. It also means that the semester stretches from Early January until June in order for the school to fit in all the breaks and have enough weeks for classes.
My Classes: I am taking: (1) Corruption in China; (2) Global Business Law; (3) International Securities Law; (4) Introduction to Mandarin for Foreign Learners; and (5) International Economic Law.
Composition of my Classes: My Corruption in China class contains international law students. My other classes have a mixture of local students and international students.
Structure of Classes: The classes are very different than BU law classes. Most of the Professors teach from PowerPoint slides and give the slides out for each class. It is not Socratic method, although some of my professors try to get the students to participate or might call on them in class. However, the professors that do this were trained in the US and UK. The majority of classes also do not have textbooks. Instead, the school prints out the assigned readings for each class and distributes them to our pigeonholes (essentially mailboxes in the law school). Hardly any of the readings are cases (even though Hong Kong is common law). The readings usually consist of textbook like explanations of the material, journal articles and relevant statutes.
Assessment: For my classes, I have one 20+ page paper and three take home finals. I am pretty happy with this structure because I have to leave Hong Kong before the examination period is over to return to Boston for graduation and to start studying for the Bar Exam.