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Juliane Werther - Germany

Course: Master of Laws (LL.M)
Institute: University of Wollongong
Location: Wollongong, New South Wales

Juliane Werther wanted to go somewhere to improve her English, get a good degree and see something different. A chance information session at her German university convinced her to try Australia.

She admits she had no idea how she might benefit from studying in Australia: “I knew it would broaden my horizons; I hoped it would be helpful in a professional way, too.”

It turned out to be a decision that still resonates today. “Without my Australian degree I wouldn’t be in the position I am in right now,” she explains. Dr Werther is legal counsel for Hochtief AirPort GmbH, a company that specialises in investing in and managing airports worldwide.

“They were looking for a German lawyer with an understanding of the common law system to take care of their German and Australian shareholding,” she says. An understanding of Australian law is, understandably, a useful asset when dealing with local contracts, litigation or taxation. “When I talk to our lawyer in Sydney, I know exactly where she’s coming from.”

The divergent legal system was not the only difference with which the lawyer had to contend when she moved to Australia.

“In Australia, the approach to study is more student-focused,” she says. “It is much easier to get in touch with lecturers – you could just rock up and discuss ideas. I liked that. In Germany you have to work your way through several layers.”

Later when she went on to do her PhD (“Moral rights in Germany and Australia: A comparative analysis of the rights of an author to transfer over his work”) at the University of Jena in Germany, she drew on her Australian experience.

“I had lots of discourse with lecturers and got lots of feedback during my Master’s at Wollongong,” she says. So she adopted the same tactic in Germany. “Every time I had a problem or wanted to discuss new ideas for my thesis, I would approach my supervisor. This way I did not go astray or encounter a writer’s block as is often the case during a doctorate.” Australia, she insists, taught her not to be so in awe of academics.

The University of Wollongong campus itself was another positive for Dr Werther, with all the facilities together in one area, not spread out all over the city, as is often the case in Germany.

“I had a really great time at Wollongong,” she says, and urges international students to give smaller cities a chance.  “I found the staff very helpful and attentive which I think due to the smaller amounts of students they have to handle in comparison to universities in the major Australian cities.”

Dr Werther mentions the attention the university paid to getting international students involved in activities and the care given to mixing people from different nationalities in on-campus accommodation.

“They were good at placing people,” she says, pairing her with a Thai girl and three Australians. “I got a good insight into the Australian lifestyle, met a lot of great friends and along the way gathered valuable experience professionally and personally. I would do it again!”

When it comes to picking her favourite things about Australia, she lists the nature and the people. “Every time I am 'Down Under' I marvel at the nature, at the green of the bushes and parks, the beauty of the beaches. Moreover, Aussies are always up for a chat, even with a total stranger.”

Last updated: Tuesday, 11 August 2015 11:23:13 AM

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