Shining a light on the international student experience

Final-year JD student Thibaut Clamart is a passionate advocate for international students. He shares his story with MLS.

I was born in France and came to Melbourne after completing a Bachelor in Politics in Paris and a Masters in Medieval History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. My reason for relocating to Australia was quite simple: to study law at MLS.

The structure of the JD has allowed me to have a well-rounded appreciation of all the building blocks of the law. By making students undertake such a wide-range of diverse subjects, MLS broadens horizons. It certainly worked for me – I discovered jurisprudence, also called legal theory, in my first year. I loved discussing intractable questions such as the true nature of law and was then able to tailor my third and final year to pursue that interest. I can safely say that my final year has been the highlight of my degree.

Conversely, I can also say that the JD has proved to be the most challenging thing I have ever done. I come from a modest background, so funding my studies in Melbourne was a considerable concern. I have been a waiter at Paris Go since January 2015 and, after the MLS building, it is the place where I have spent most of my time in the past two-and-a-half years. I have also been lucky enough to secure employment in various roles across the University.

Coming to Australia with no friends, no family, not much money, no local credentials, an accent, and only a temporary visa has been a difficult but fascinating journey. I have never worked so hard in my life and have similarly never learned and experienced so much before. In other words, I feel very fortunate that my commitment is paying off. There have been moments of doubt but these became learning opportunities. Thanks to the support of extraordinary colleagues and mentors, I made it through!

What I ultimately hope to show through my journey is that international students are equally as capable as domestic students. We may have an accent, but we can do the work and excel in our academic and professional endeavours. We are pioneers! I recently participated in a careers panel for first-year international students and said to them: “You will need to be committed but it will be rewarding in the end.”

I feel grateful for the fact that I found a career direction at MLS as I now know that I will be a lawyer. I may not know where I will end up but I am not scared – a good lawyer does not think of the law as operating in silos and must therefore be versatile. I am indebted to the Law School for the fact that I came to MLS with no idea about what to do with my life and will soon leave having a clear direction – I love the law!

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