Thomas Bowman | School of Law | SIU

Southern Illinois University

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Thomas Bowman

Class of 2016, President of SIU Law's International Law Society (2014-15)

Thomas Bowman

Bowman participated in the Ireland/Wales study abroad program in the summer of 2014.

Q. Where did you travel during your trip? 

A.  With the program, I visited Dingle and Dublin, Ireland and Bangor, Wales. During my time off, I took the personal initiative to visit Cork, the Cliffs of Moher, Belfast and other small towns in Northern Ireland. I also visited Cambridge, Bath and London, England.

Q. Why were you interested in participating in the program?

A.  I really enjoy traveling overseas and learning of foreign cultures. This study abroad program provided me a terrific opportunity to “live” in Europe for a month while learning about foreign law. Moreover, I am optimistic that a future employer will be happy to see that I was willing to step out of my American comfort zone to learn a foreign subject in a foreign country.

Q. Have you ever done anything like this program before?

A.  I have not participated in a study abroad program in the past. While an undergraduate at Ole Miss, I had the opportunity to live/study in Russia for full semester to complement the Russian language program in which I was enrolled. However, I let this opportunity pass and I have regretted that decision ever since. I was not going to let the Ireland/Wales opportunity pass me by!

Q. What was the best part of your trip?

A.  Tough question here. The program was well planned and designed and I enjoyed everything, really. I think what really stands out is the opportunity to study under foreign professors who are recognized experts in their fields. The professors were extremely professional and accommodating to ensure we, the American students, received tremendous educational and cultural value for our time and efforts. Moreover, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to visit the criminal courts in Dublin and Chester. There is no substitute for personally viewing criminal procedure in the courtroom. The Irish and British systems are completely different from what we enjoy in the United States. Reading about those differences does not truly convey those differences that we witnessed during criminal proceedings.

Q. Did you have any pre-conceived notions about the destination you were visiting and, if so, were those notions proved or disproved?

A.  The only false, pre-conceived notion I had prior to visiting Ireland and Wales was that the local food was bland and unexciting. This idea was quickly dispelled; the food in Ireland, especially in Dublin was phenomenal.  There were so many great restaurants throughout the country.

Q. What did you find most surprising/unexpected about your destination?

A.  I guess the expense for everyday essentials was kind of a surprise. I knew Europe was expensive, but Ireland seemed to be a bit more so. Unfortunately, most of that expense is due to high taxes.

Q. How do you believe this experience will help you in your studies/subsequent law school experience or in your future career?

A. I think this experience provided me an excellent foundation to continue studies in international law. The basic overviews in various areas of international law has stoked my interest further and provided me enough of an overview that I now know that international law is a possible career path for me. It is important to understand the legal frame work in which foreign partners work and are limited. This knowledge allows one to forge more effective relationships with foreign partners in business, government or any other area.

Q. Do you plan to take other international law courses or pursue international law as a career?

A. I do indeed plan to enroll in other international law courses and study abroad programs. I also plan to take the Foreign Service Officer exam with the United States State Department in coming months.

Q. Would you recommend this program to another student? Why or why not?

A.  I absolutely recommend this program and any other study abroad opportunities. Such programs are time and money well spent. The educational benefit and experiences gained are immeasurable!