Study Abroad, Travel Abroad

My recent trip with friends to Germany illustrates a larger truth about our BC Law community and the bonds we form here. The experience reinforced how a friendship born in law school can transcend the BC Law bubble—and reminded me of the importance of expanding our hearts and minds and getting away from the stress of studying for a while.

Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany offers an exchange program in International and Comparative Business Law to students all over the world. BC Law usually sends at least one student to the program. This year that student is Stephanie Ragland. She is a double eagle (she went to BC for undergrad as well). She is also a close friend of mine.

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I met Stephanie 1L year through our mutual friend Allie. We attended events and student Mass together. Over the course of the year Allie, Stephanie and I became good friends. When Stephanie finalized her plans to study abroad in Germany, she invited us to visit. Allie and I booked flights to go to Hamburg for 4 nights around Columbus Day weekend.

Stephanie was eager to show us the city. She met us at the airport with giant heart-shaped gingerbread cookies – the first of many authentic German food items we would experience over the next few days. We had breakfast at a café in her favorite neighborhood and explored downtown Hamburg, and that evening we went to a beer hall for an Oktoberfest themed evening. When we arrived, we were ushered to a long, communal table where the hostess asked two young men to make room for us. No one minded moving–the community was clearly influenced by the beer garden culture. Everyone was happy to share.

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The following day we explored the city’s Warehouse/Port district. A mix of old and new, the views from the port were beautiful. We snapped photos to share with friends and family and drank in the scenery. On the way back, we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop and had the best waffles I’ve ever had. That evening we met many of Stephanie’s Bucerius classmates. They were all studying abroad from other law schools in the US and Australia.

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On Sunday we visited the Neuemgame World War II work camp and spent hours looking at the exhibits and the grounds, sensitively discussing our impressions with each other. While the subject matter was often difficult to digest, we all agreed it was a valuable experience to share, and it struck me what a nice friendship we’d developed during our years together. We were all intellectually curious about the history of the place, and we were comfortable sharing a very moving experience.

When it was time to leave, it was hard to say goodbye. We had spent hours catching up, but spent very little time discussing classes, grades, or jobs. We instead discussed German culture and food, Stephanie’s experience living in Hamburg, the history of the city and surrounding area, and all of the places we would like to travel to in the future. Even though it was a fourteen-hour trip on either end, it was an amazingly restorative experience.

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