Upon being successful in my ‘Go Abroad Fund’, application I spent two weeks in picturesque Salzburg in the Austrian Alps attending the European Private Law Summer school.
Here I found myself surrounded by individuals who had travelled from all over Europe and more far-flung places like that of Quebec and South Africa to be there. By creating this melting pot of opinions and backgrounds, discussions were especially interesting and international.
Prior to attending the event I felt slight trepidation about being surrounded by hundreds of fellow law students and professionals. Any apprehension however I had before arriving was quickly remedied by a warm welcoming meal with all the students and staff in the centre of Salzburg. The two week stay consisted of an intensive study of the legal system of approximately 20 countries. So despite my dread of 8 am classes, the format of the teaching allowed you to reap as much information as possible within the short time we had at the summer school.
The spread of courses also meant a great variety in materials and teaching methods. For example,” An Introduction to Austrian Private Law “, was led by the School organiser Professor Rainer. This set the Austrian Civil Code, the AGBG, into historical context and the fact that a textbook by Gaius dating back to 160 AD was still used in legal study at University amazed me. Lastly the lecturers made themselves widely available and gave great guidance on how to access online legal research sources in their host countries. Guidance I am sure that will become invaluable when following lines of enquiry when completing my dissertation this coming academic year.
Alongside these lectures we had three workshops. I found these the most interesting part of the summer school. This is because it allowed me to get a perspective on how each jurisdiction deals with particular scenarios. As such you could compare and contrast legal thinking between different countries. In addition the use of different languages for social communication made me aware of the need for a more integrated approach to education where switching between different languages with ease breaks down possible barriers.
Throughout my two weeks I also relished my free time and explored the historical sites and architecture of Salzburg. I visited several of the city’s museums and attractions. One of which was that of the Dom-Quartier, the former living quarters and official seat of the prince-archbishops. This allowed me a glimpse of the grandeur of Salzburg’s heritage. Moreover there was an organised excursion up to the Festung Hohensalzburg, a medieval fortress that dominated the city skyline. From there we could imagine the immense power of the Austrian Archdukes and begin to comprehend why the legal systems of Europe are a complex jigsaw influenced heavily by neighbouring countries.