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Their summer abroad

Friday, Aug 5, 2011

International students study law & English at USC

-By Jill Carmack

This summer, 108 students from 26 countries have gathered at USC to prepare for their legal studies at the law school. The USC Summer Law & English Program has grown substantially since it was established eight years ago, and it is more diverse than ever.  Through the program, students have the opportunity to learn about the American legal system, enjoy the Los Angeles area and become acquainted with the USC campus.  

GIP ice cream social 2011
Summer Law & English students at the ice cream social

The program combines the study of both the English language and American law and focuses on easing the transition for students looking to study abroad. Benedikte Lumd is a law student in Denmark and saw the summer program as the ideal opportunity to see if she wanted to study abroad.

“Now I know so much more about the American legal system as well as American law schools,” Lumd said. “I feel much more prepared to come and study here.”

“In the Graduate and International Programs office, everyone has experienced studying abroad and knows what it feels like to be living in a foreign environment,” says Anne Marlenga, assistant director of graduate and international programs. Marlenga taught English in Japan before coming to work at USC.

The students come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are undergraduate students, others already are attorneys, and half of the students are attending the program as a precursor to entering the USC Master of Laws program.  

For four weeks, students attend legal English classes in the USC Rossier School of Education.

“Legal English was my favorite part of the program, because the instructor urged us to work together and exchange experiences,” said Chia Sheng Huang, a student from Taiwan.

Students also attend American law classes at USC Law.

“Professor [John] Garman explained the system so well to us that we were able to learn a lot about the American legal system in a short period of time,” said Cristian Rivera, a student from Chile. Seventy-five percent of students live on campus in Webb Tower.  

The program also features weekly events, such as picnic lunches and networking events, as well as field trips to destinations around Los Angeles, including the Getty Museum, Santa Monica Pier, Dodgers Stadium and the Pasadena Courthouse.

“The most enjoyable event by far is the trip to the Pasadena Courthouse,” Marlenga says.

The students take a tour of the courthouse and get to sit in on trials.

“Many of the students are from countries without juries and where legal procedures are a much more private affair, so they are shocked by the difference,” she says. “The Pasadena Courthouse is very accommodating. Judges will often stop their proceedings to talk to students, which the students absolutely love.”

The program has something to offer everyone. Students come away with greater knowledge of American law, the English language, new friendships and a memorable summer experience.

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