Temple University, Philadelphia

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1 Studying in the U.S. demands a lot of preparation. The moment I heard I got selected for Temple University I started to make arrangements. First we needed to upload a lot of documents like, bank statements, passport information etc. After a few weeks I received my I 20 which allowed me to apply for a Student Visa. It s important to apply for a visa as soon as you receive your I 20, because the procedure with the Consulate can take some time. It s also important to organize your health insurance. You can ask for a waiver if your Dutch health insurance is sufficient. A waiver is cheaper so I would recommend it! The Fall Semester at Temple starts in September, however the LLM program will already start in August. In this three week introduction you will learn about the Law school, Philadelphia and get to know the other International Students. The first two weeks of the Semester is called the add drop period, in this period you can try different classes and drop them if you don t like them. I would recommend to ask the American students what classes they liked and I would definitely pay attention to the professor that taught the class. Another important topic is accommodation. It s important to start looking for accommodation early on because a lot of areas in Philadelphia are not safe! You can either live in the city centre or on campus. Living in the city centre means that you ll probably pay a lot of rent and that you need to travel to school. Though you live close to bars, restaurants and shops. Living on campus is cheap and close to school. However if you want to go to city centre you must travel by bus or subway. Student Life Philadelphia is a big city, so obviously there are a lot of bars, restaurants, clubs and shops. However the bouncers are very strict as it comes to show your ID. If you are not 21 yet, you most likely cannot enter a bar at night. However the city has so much more to offer than food and drinks. Like the historic area, which is beautiful and worth visiting. The Law school also organizes many activities like guest seminars, quizzes and parties! So there is enough to explore in your free time! If you are interested in visiting other cities, I would definitely recommend New York and Washington. Just buy a bus ticket and go for a weekend or daytrip! Conclusions I had an amazing time in Philadelphia! I learned a lot and made international friends! Yes, there is a lot to arrange beforehand and Philadelphia is not the safest city, but my time there was absolutely unforgettable! I would really recommend visiting a Football game of the Temple Owls! A great way to get to know the American way of life! Also try to make some American friends, they can show you around and help you with your study as well! For the past five months I have been studying at Temple University in Philadelphia. In order to prepare for my stay in the U.S., I took the Legal English course (LEAP) at Babel. I found the course very useful; it made me feel more confident about my Legal English, especially in the first couple of weeks.

2 When I heard that I was accepted at Temple University, I had to arrange a lot of things. The director of international programs, Karen McMichael, requested a lot of information and documents such as a bank statement. These documents needed to be uploaded on the registration website of Temple University. After I did this, I received my I 20 form, which you ll need for your visa application at the Consulate in Amsterdam. Since, it took some time before I found my I 20 form in the mail, I recommend you ll start on time with the application for Temple. Once you ll have your I 20 form, you ll have to apply for a student visa online. Keep in mind that this process will also take some time. Temple University requires that all exchange students have sufficient health and medical evacuation insurance. Karen McMichael, will give you the opportunity to apply for a Temple health insurance and a medical evacuation insurance, which might be cheaper than getting insurance at The Independent blue cross directly. However, I applied for a waiver because my Dutch health and travel insurance met all the requirements. The spring semester at Temple starts in the beginning of January, which means that there is an overlap with the fall semester in Utrecht. You ll need to make arrangements, if you decide to take courses the second period of the fall semester in Utrecht. For the reason that the international LL.M. program started in August, there was no real introduction period for the spring semester. However, Karen McMichael held one introduction day for the six exchange students who started in January. I didn t feel I really missed a longer introduction, because we were a nice small group, with somehow only girls, and we planned lunches and day trips to the city center of Philadelphia right away. In the first week of classes you ll have an add/drop period, in which you can add or drop classes. I strongly recommend to try out as much classes as you can, because you ll get a great insight in the classes. I ended up changing three of four classes in this week. Another important thing you ll have to decide is where to live in Philadelphia. I decided to live in University Village, which is a typical American dorm on campus and really close to the Law School. Since it is a typical dorm, you ll have the option of choosing a private bedroom or a share one with a roommate. For the reason that I like my privacy, I chose a private bedroom, which also included a separate and private bathroom. University Village, is a great place to live, if you don t know the city that well and you don t want to take the risk of ending up in an unsafe neighborhood. If you contact University Village early enough like I did, you will be able to arrange a six months lease; ending in December or May instead of an one year contract, which is ideal for exchange students! I never felt unsafe on campus, however you have to keep in mind that if you go, off campus, to the north of Philadelphia you will end up in an unsafe and ghetto like neighborhood. Student Life The student life in Philadelphia is great! There are a lot of nice restaurants and bars in center city and old city, and it is easily accessible by subway. Every other week Temple law students held a bar review in a bar in center city, which is a really fun way to get to know a lot of (American) law students. Philadelphia is quite strict as it comes to showing your ID. Bouncers usually requests passports, because they don t recognize a foreign driver s license. For the reason that I did not want to carry my passport everywhere, I usually carried a copy of my passport and a valid driver s license.

3 Since I was the only student from Utrecht, I instantly became close friends with two Indian and two Swiss exchange students. Together we did a lot of fun stuff, such as daytrips or weekend trips to Washington D.C. and New York. Because of the great location of Philadelphia, it is really easy to travel to New York or Washington D.C. In May we took the train to Atlantic City, to spend a couple of days at the shore. It is only a two hour ride, so if you have the time and the weather is nice enough I would definitely recommend spending some time at the shore. In March I had a week off, this is what is known as spring break. Instead of spending some time at the beach, I decided to spend the week in Chicago with a friend. This is absolutely a beautiful city and we had a great time there! There were also many activities organized on campus. Every Friday night they organized quizzes, dance shows etc. and they had free food and drinks. However, the most memorable activity I ve been to, was the International Grand Ball, which was held for the first time. This ball was especially organized for all international students, so it was a great opportunity to meet international students from different studies. Conclusion I ve had an unforgettable time in Philadelphia. Although, there might be a lot to prepare and to think about it is absolutely worth it! Temple University as well as its Law School are well regarded, therefore I would definitely recommend studying at Temple University. Although the neighborhood north of the campus is considered to be an unsafe area, I never felt unsafe on campus. Philadelphia is located between New York and Washington D.C. and therefore it is really easy to travel to both cities. I would recommend starting on time preparing everything, because everything added together, gathering documents, housing etc. will take some time, however it is absolutely worth it!

4 I always wanted to study abroad in the U.S. When I chose to do the Toga track, I knew I would get the opportunity for this during the half year free slot period. I looked at the different options on the UU website and decided to put Washington DC first and Philadelphia second. I ended up going to Temple University in Philadelphia, which turned out to be great, with one other student from Utrecht. A lot of things needed to be arranged before I applied. I had to submit the required motivation letter, financial plan, study plan and CV. I also submitted a recommendation letter from one of my professors, which was optional, and I did not have to submit the language proficiency. After a few weeks I heard that I was one of the lucky two that got to go to Philadelphia. Again, a lot of things needed to be arranged. Especially for a F1 visa a lot of things needed to be done, so I would definitely recommend to start in time with that. Karen McMichael is the director of International Programs at Temple University and she will send you a website, where you have to submit a lot of information and documents. She will be your contact person before your departure, but will also be your Temple mom during your stay in Philadelphia. I also started looking at which classes I could take during the fall semester. I did not choose to do Legal English as a course in Utrecht, because I had traveled a lot for longer periods abroad and I already took 30 ECTS during the last period. The U.S. is a great country to study Law, but the downside is that you do not receive a monthly Erasmus scholarship, so it is important to save some money before your departure. The fall semester at Temple starts in August. All the International students, around 40 students, had to participate in the three week introduction before the semester started, so we arrived in the beginning of August. We could have done the introduction in one week, but it was the perfect time to adjust and to get to know all the other International students. Karen McMichael helped us with the courses we could choose and with all the other things that needed to be arranged. We also got a few introduction classes during the orientation weeks, so we could see how the classes would be like. I chose to do Legal Research and Writing (which was mandatory), Introduction to the American Legal System (which was recommendable for students from a civil law country), Contracts and International Commercial Transactions. These courses were in total 13 credits. Karen advised us not to take more credits. She also told us about the grading system; we could choose between the normal grading system (A, B, C) or the pass/fail system. We had to decide about this after six weeks of classes. I chose for the grading system, because I felt that I could keep up with the classes well and it is recommendable if you ever want to study again in the U.S. The downside is that you get graded on a curve with the other American students. If you choose the pass/fail system, you will only get a satisfactory or unsatisfactory as a grade and you will not be graded on a curve with the American students. I have received my grades and they turned out to be really good, so I am happy that I chose for the grading system. One of the greatest experiences was that we had to participate in an oral argument in Federal Court in front of two real Federal judges for the Legal Research and Writing course. We worked on a criminal case for weeks and eventually had to participate in an oral argument as a prosecutor or as a criminal defense lawyer. After the oral arguments, the judges gave everyone personal feedback, which was an unforgettable, unique experience. The quality of the education at American Law schools is very different. All the students first had to get an undergraduate degree; they had to go to college for four years before they could go to Law school, so they were all a bit older. Also the professors use a Socratic method to teach, this means that the professors call on you to answer questions and there are a lot of discussions during class. It is important to prepare well, because the professor can call on you every class and will not stop to ask you questions until you answer something right. Besides, you only have seminars twice a week, instead of just listening to a

5 professor once a week. Nevertheless, I felt that if you keep up with all the reading materials and classes, it was not that hard and you still had a lot of free time. All the professors have weekly walk in hours and are very committed to the students, so they can always help you. I have not received my transcript of records yet, but the Exam committee said that you could receive 2 ECTS for 1 American credit. This means that I can receive 26 ECTS for my semester in Philadelphia, which I do not think is totally fair because it is almost impossible to take five courses at Temple. That is why I am going to take one extra class in the third period in Utrecht, so I can still finish my bachelor s degree this June. Student life The student life in Philadelphia was great. One thing you have to think carefully about is if you want to live in Center city, which takes 10 minutes by subway, or if you want to live around campus. The area around campus is not the best area, it is a bit close to a ghetto, but I never felt unsafe where I lived. I stayed at The Edge, which I believe is on the good side of campus and is only 2 minutes walking distance from the Law building. Also the subway and bus stops almost in front of The Edge. I shared a room with the other student from Utrecht and it was not that expensive. The Edge was also one of the few dorms where you could sign a lease contract for 6 months, instead of one year. So, you have to be careful before you apply for a dorm if the lease contract is for one year or if you also can get a lease contract for 6 months. We made that mistake with University Village, where they only provide lease contracts for a full year. Our two Israeli friends lived in Center city, which was a very nice apartment, but they also paid almost twice as much for it. During the three week orientation we got the opportunity to get to know the other International students. We hanged out almost every day and become really close friends. We also become friends with American students and ended up hanging out and going to parties all together. Because I also wanted to meet more Americans and do some kind of sports, I joined Temple University s tennis team. I always played a lot of tennis when I was younger and it was great to pick it up again in the U.S. We practiced two/three times a week and had a few tournaments during the weekends. It was a great opportunity to meet more people and to travel to different states. I also traveled multiple times to New York City, Washington D.C. and other cities, because it is very easy and cheap to take the bus to these cities. Also, most Americans have their own car, so we could visit some other places in Pennsylvania. Temple University has got a lot of sports clubs; there are a lot of things to choose from. Fitness is free for Temple students, so that is also one thing I enjoyed during the semester. I also joined a few Law societies, for example the International Law Society, which organizes a lot of activities through the year. Conclusion Philadelphia is definitely a recommendable destination to go to. Although the area around campus is not the best area, I never felt unsafe where I lived. You can choose to live around campus, close to the Law school and sports clubs, or you can choose to live in Center city and take the subway to school, which only takes ten minutes. Philadelphia is also a great location, because it is easy to travel to New York City and Washington D.C. My advice would be that you have to start in time with gathering all the documents for your visa and start in time with looking for accommodation. Overall, studying abroad for a semester was an amazing experience and I not only learned a lot about the U.S. and its culture, but also about different foreign countries and made a lot of American and international friends. If you have any questions or would like to know more about studying at Temple University, please feel free to contact the International Office to ask for my contact information.

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