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Comfortable with the Uncomfortable Joshua Justus '24L discusses studying law abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, his first time living outside the U.S.

joshujustice-800x533 Comfortable with the UncomfortableJoshua Justus ’24L

Joshua R. C. Justus ‘24L is from Hurley, Virginia. He attended the University of Virginia where he received a B.A. in Biology and Philosophy. After college, he served with the Virginia College Advising Corps—an AmeriCorps program—as a College Adviser for two years. At W&L Law, he is a Lead Article Editor on the German Law Journal. Joshua loves to fish in the local streams and goes golfing whenever possible. 

What was the process for you to study at Trinity for the fall semester of your 3L year?

I learned about the study abroad program early in the spring of my 2L year. I reached out to the then academic dean and the study abroad coordinator for the law school to get more information. After meeting with them, it just so happened that I had planned my 2L schedule perfectly to make me a good candidate to study abroad in the coming fall. The deans were also able put me in touch with a law student who had just returned from studying abroad at Trinity, so I could ask about their experiences with the program. Finally, I needed to apply once the application opened. I created a CV, wrote a cover letter, and requested a letter of recommendation. Then I waited to see if I was chosen for the program.

Describe your education experience and daily schedule.

At Trinity, I participated in their Master of Laws (LL.M.) program where I took graduate level courses with professors from around the world. The professors had varying backgrounds from working at the United Nations to working as a barrister in Ireland for over a decade. They provided an excellent environment to learn about international legal regimes.

My average day would start with waking up in my shared accommodation and walking thirty minutes to Dublin city center where Trinity College is located. On my walk I would go through St. Patrick’s Cathedral Park, which was always full of seagulls looking for a quick snack and Dubliners playing with their dogs. I made my way over and across the famous Grafton Street, where I had to squeeze my way through the crowds of shoppers before landing at Trinity and going to class.

On days when I didn’t have class I would either explore Dublin—like Phoenix Park—take a bus/train to another part of Ireland, or I would have pre-scheduled a trip to another country. Some of the places I was fortunate enough to have time and means to visit were Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and many more. I was even able to visit the Krakow Christmas market in Poland!

What are some skills you developed this fall?

Before I can answer this, I think I need to share that this experience was my first time traveling outside of the United States. With that in mind, living in a foreign country, where I didn’t know a single person outside of the connections I made at Trinity, was a truly unique experience.

As a result, I believe I have become more comfortable with the uncomfortable. Virtually every experience I had while abroad was new to me—from navigating a large capital city daily to connecting with other students from almost exclusively non-U.S. backgrounds. I quickly realized I would need to push outside of my comfort zone to make the most of my experience.

Unexpectedly, my time management also improved. The class formats at Trinity are naturally different from those at W&L and in some ways require students to be more comfortable motivating themselves to engage with the material in a meaningful way. As I learned this, I felt comfortable pacing myself throughout the semester and entering the final exam period prepared.

What surprised you about your time at Trinity?

As I mentioned above, my time at Trinity was my first time travelling abroad. I was most surprised by how similar cities in other countries are to cities here. I can sense that many people would disagree—of course there are differences in infrastructure, cultures, etc. However, at the end of the day, people are people. After discussing the rules of rugby, in Spanish, with a Parisian while watching a rugby world cup match, I felt like the world got a little smaller. Believe you me, being from rural Appalachia, I know small.

What was your favorite aspect of your fall experience?

There were two aspects of my experience that stand out. First, the connections I made with students from around the world broadened my perspective and made my time there much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. Second, the time that I had to travel around Europe. I saw places and things that I never thought I would have the opportunity to experience. Going to Trinity allowed me to explore myself as I was exploring the world around me, and that time was priceless.

Has this experience helped you figure out your post graduate plans, and if so how?

I was fortunate enough to have my post graduate plans confirmed soon after finishing up Immersion in the fall of 3L, but I do believe that my time abroad and living in a decently large city cemented my desire to work in a smaller city in Virginia.