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Mustafa from Pakistan: exploring Europe
Our Michaelmas term exams were in the first week of December. The stress is inevitable, and besides that, the focus was on how a student should utilize the vacations after exams. I planned to visit some important sites which are related to the subject of law. I will try to briefly give you a glimpse of what I experienced during my educational trip.
Magna Carta Monument
I went to the Magna Carta Monument on the River Thames, famous as the site of the sealing of Magna Carta (The Great Charter), which established the principle that everyone is subject to the Law. Since the first law lesson, the Magna Carta became one of the focus points and it is one of the highly regarded documents not only in the UK but also in so many other countries.
Central Criminal Court
The most interesting place to go as a law student could be the Central Criminal Court, which is also known as the Old Bailey – named after the street on which it stands – housing the crown court. I have heard of Old Bailey in the newspapers, on the TV, in the textbooks and often in law lectures, but what is that Old Bailey? This was the question that pushed me to go to the Old Bailey. If any student wants to feel the thrill of the law profession, just visit the Central Criminal Court. It felt like being in a film shooting, but it was real.
Royal Courts of Justice
After the lunch break, I walked from Old Bailey to The Royal Courts of Justice, which is a very charming 15 minutes’ walk. I entered one of the courtrooms and sat quietly for 30 minutes whilst listening to the proceedings and then left the courtroom to explore the rest of the building. It was a glimpse of criminal and civil courts for me in that one day which changed my perspective about the courts in England. Now I knew why Charles Dickens wrote in Bleak House:
“Suffer any wrong that can be done you, rather than come here!”
The Supreme Court of England
During the revision week of the first term, I booked my place for a parliament visit. I had plenty of time to go to the most important and highest court of England, the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of England is also known as the Privy Council and members of public are welcome to visit the court. It was a wonderful experience sitting and observing the proceedings.
It was time for the Parliament visit and the talk, which was given by two parliament staff members. The talk was extremely informative, and it covered almost everything concerning the UK Parliament for both houses, House of Lords and House of Commons. Going inside the parliament building was a big exciting moment for me. I was curious to see the green and red benches and the interior of the building. The perspective changed in two days about the English Legal System and about studying Law.
The Court of Justice of The European Union
The Court of Justice of The European Union, which is situated in Luxembourg, was the next court on my list. I still remember the faces of the judges and the glances from over their reading glasses. I have no words to explain the feelings I had sitting in that court.
European Court of Human Rights
I continued my drive to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Driving from country to country is a big vacation activity in itself, and these points of interest were on top of that. The European Parliament and ECHR are located very closely so I parked my car and walked between both buildings and started from the European Parliament which is a huge and eye-catching building from both outside and inside, then walked to the ECHR building.
I left Strasbourg to start my journey back to where I was staying in Belgium (to my in-laws where I left my wife and daughter). It was worth doing the adventure, which will remain with me for my life. From Belgium to Luxembourg, from Luxembourg to France, from France to Belgium.
International Court of Justice
The next and last point of interest was the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Holland. ICJ - which is also known as the Peace Palace - is a fascinating building and is an appealing place for Law students to visit as it is not just the International Court but also the largest International Law Library and The Hague Academy of International Law. There are several masterpieces of artwork inside the building, donated to the ICJ from different countries. The architecture is one of a kind and is more than 100 years old.
A real adventure
It seems insane doing this much in two days. It was four countries in two days and honestly, I was not tired at all. All was paid back in form of the experience and the sense of self achievement. My return voyage to Stockton from Amsterdam to Newcastle via the North Sea, which was a great experience.
I gained a lot of information, experience and knowledge by visiting these places. When I was a boy, my father said to me ‘today is the most important day of your life’. From then on, I spent every day of my life regarding it as the most important day. Whenever I think of any adventure or any challenge – I ask myself ‘What’s stopping you?’ So, what’s stopping you?