UCL LLM 2009/2010 experience. Right from the beginning until graduation!

Application process

By PUCCA on Oct 10, 2009

Hi everybody! (please forgive me for any mistakes but Im trying to write as fast as possible since believe me, there is no much time during your LLM) 

It all began on 24 October last year when i submitted my application! Yes, i tried to apply as early as possible since many people in the llm forum suggested it was the best thing to do. Im amazed how fast times passes by. I still remember when I was all nervous trying to collect all my paper in order to submit my applications.

I applied to 5 universities in total. 4 in London and one in Scotland. My first choice was London. I always knew I wanted to study there because I had other things in mind such as internships, volunteering opportunities and much much more and in my opinion London was the place to do that.

So then after I collected all my documents i submitted my applications and hoped for the best. I applied to Kings College London (KCL), University College London (UCL), London School of Economics (LSE), Queen mary, University of London (QMUL) and University of Edinburgh. The ones i liked the most were LSE and UCL.

Around 10 November 08, all this unis acknowledged my application and KCL was the first to say NOOOO. Of course i felt very sad because I was thinking oh lord maybe this is a bad sign but i had nothing else to than wait.

Around 20 December 08 Edinburgh informed me i had an unconditional offer. I was very excited because i also liked this uni a lot and after doing some research was considering that maybe this was the best idea. It was cheaper and it seemed like a very good uni.

Then on January UCL sent me a letter informing me I had a conditional offer from them. The condition was nothing important. I studying at the time another degree at Uni and they told me they wanted me to send them a letter confirming that I was not going to be enroll during 2009/2010 in that university. Since of course this wasnt my intention i obtained the letter that same week and the following month they sent me my unconditional offer. OHHH WHAT A HAPPY DAYYYYYYY   :)

On March 09 Queen Mary also informed me I had an unconditional offer. I was like oh yes 3 unis already,,,lets see what the last uni says.

Finally on April 09 (yes almost 5 months after submitting my application) LSE rejected me and I was like ok no problem. Got a little bit sad but by this time i had made up my mind about UCL and that same say I confirmed my place there :)

An LLM from UCL wow i was really excited!! i had checked the rankings (yes i admit i did) and UCL position was simply excellent. I kept checking their website all the time hehe and could not stop smiling and dreaming about me going there.

I decided i was going to specialize in Public International Law since my main goal and ultimate dream isto work at the United Nations or any other international organization. I love what they do, i believe in what they do and truly consider I can also do something positive for the world and also my country: Panama.

Around March i decided it was a good idea to do something before starting my LLM. Something interesting and related to the LLM. I then decided to apply to do an internship at the United nations in Vienna,,why not? it was going to be a great opportunity to make sure i liked that international environment, get to know more about the UN and simply obtain some extra knowledge.

So I applied and was accepted. Oh such a happy day as well. I left to Vienna around May 2st and started my 4 month internship on September 4 at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). MY experience there was memorable and im really happy i made the decision to go there!

But then my visa nightmare began!!! oh yessssss. Not gonna tell the whole story here cause everyone on the llm site knows it i think hehehe,,for further information please visit http://www.llm-guide.com/board/63688/4 . Please the visa its very important! please please and please really look at the requirements and dont think they british embassy will not be strict cause they will,,any mistake counts so please do your best so you dont rejected like me,,,orrrr PLEASE DONT apply in a country that its not your home country if you don have your residence permit. Maybe this is obvious now but i was misinformed and i wouldnt like you to feel the same i did,,,sad, depressed and about to have a heart attack!

So well when i finally got my visa on 25 September 2009 (Please notice this was the same day i had my flight to London) i left and started my journed in London! UCL LLM 2009/2010 here I come   :)))))))))))))))))


Arrival in London! Scared and soo excited. Saturday and Sunday 26-27 September 2009

By PUCCA on Oct 10, 2009

After I passed immigration i was like ohh yess finally im here and ready to begin! I collected my bags and took the underground from Heathrow (Picadilly Line) to King Cross/St. Pancrass station (single fare 4 pounds better get the student oyster card as soon as possible believe,,that way its only 1.60 single fare). Apply to get the oyster card here after you obtain your student id and ucl email address: https://photocard.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/showLogon2.do.

Im staying at James Lighthill House Halls of Residence and the closest tube station is this one. So if you are staying here next year dont worry its excellent at least in my opinion!

Its only a 25 minute walk to UCL main campus and around 15 to 18 to UCL Faculty of Laws (depending on how fast your walk but Im not that fast i must admit). I love the area its so full of live, lots of shops, restaurants, banks and supermarkets around. And the accommodation its only around a 5 minute walk from King Cross/St. Pancrass station, isnt that great? You can travel from there to a lot of places in UK (scotland, ireland, etc), Paris, Brussels and other places in Europe if you find some time to travel that is of course hehe!

The halls are really nice and I love my room. Not that big but not small either. I have my bed of course, desk and chair, another chair for visitors :), wardrove and bedside table and my own shower, washbasin and WC. To me thats was very important cause i feel more confortable thay way and the common kitchen its big enough. We are 7 room per flat and my building has only 3 floor,,,all the people living are postgraduates but the people in the building in front of us and across are both postgraduates and undergraduates so you might heard a litttlee noise but nothing to worry about,,its actually good because believe me this postgrad building its really quiet which is perfect to study but its also nice to know some people of having fun out there hehe.

Dont get me wrong, we can have fun but not as much as undergraduates of course. Our llm is only one year so that means we have to work harder than everyone else.  The people in my building its very nice and i feel at home here.

So well to conclude about the accommodation thing we also have a common room, laundry room (you have to ask for a laundry card which you top up online) and a nice garden. Security its everything here so you need a card to access every single place so dont worry you are very very safe here and the staff its very helpfull and friendly. Supermarket,,please go to iceland or sainsbury´s, the rest are quite expensive. Those two are only a 10 minute walk away and there are many convenience stores in that same road as well as restaurants. Like i said before king cross is just 5 minutes from there so you can go there if you dont feel like cooking or eating a frozen meal just go there and you will find several chinese, indian and international food restaurants, mac donalds, KFC, burguer king and much more.

I know i talk and give to many details but this is what i wanted to find out before moving to london so i hope you find all these details helpfull!

Mmm lets see what else..oh i order a bedding pack before here,,it was 50 pounds and it contained a duvet, duvet cover, pillow, pillow cover, another cover for the bed, hand towel and bath towel. Please bear this in mind. You can also bring or buy yours here, its up to you. OH no toilet paper in the rooms so if you have ensuite accomodation for gods sake bring your own, at least that what i did.

Ok then that was Saturday night when i arrived, then Sunday I simply walked around and found out about all the above places i mentioned and YES i went to the uni as well. GREAT AND AMAZING! i was so excited i couldnt contain myself,,,i was finally here!

I took a walk around the main campus, the student union and the faculty of law because i wanted to make sure i was going to find my way on the registration day. You could enroll that Sunday but i decided to wait until Monday.

Oh yes you can also do it during the international students orientation program which i missed due to my visa issued but its ok you are not missing aaa lotttt and you can always rely on facebook to check what happened there. Its good for you to contact some of your classmates before you come so you know somebody at least because ucl llm class was hugeeeeee almost 400 people i was like wow i cannot believe this,,,but yessss,,,but then the classes are smaller of course because we then all split and divide according to our specialization and the subjects we are interested in taking.

Ok thats all for this 2 first days lets move on to the interesting part,,registration etc etc


First week at UCL- Registration, inductions bla bla bla

By PUCCA on Oct 10, 2009

Ok friends lottttts to do this first week!

Registration with university. Go early so dont you end up like me in a long line for almost 2 hours! That same day you get your student id card and your user id and password so you can use the computers, access moodle, portico and use the internet from your hall in case you live in one.

Yes i guess you are like,,moodle,,portico,,what is that? well moodle is a little and very fun place where you can find many details about the courses you choose, such as venue, time, the teachers, THE READING LIST :((

 OHHH THE READING LIST ITS HUGE FOR EVERY COURSE! Thanks Gods you can only take 180 credits that means four subjects if you choose 45 credit courses. But dont worry we can handle it,,other people did why wouldnt you ??

Just do the reading before every class and youll be fine really,,,its a lot but im sure you can all do it. its very well organized believe me so you can see exactly what you are expected to read for the first class, the second class etc.  Most books are on the library but i recommend you to buy the books the professors says are important,,its always better to have your own thing,,,like i said thats only my opinion. the rest of the articles and reading will be posted on moodle and teachers usually give a link or a pdf documents so they help you find the documents they ask you to read,,,some other times just go to the library or access it online.

Oh then Portico is where you can find per example your invoces, your main contact details, your next of kin details, they also inform you here if you have to pay for something such as residence fees, course fees, bedding pack or anything else) and this is where you select the subjects you are actually going to take,,this is the real thing,,here you can only choose the subjects you are going to take for sure,,on moodle you can select the courses as well but they are not recorded as formal registration,,on portico yes,,,so be sure about what you decide,,,,more info will be given to you by the graduate tutor and also on handbooks and leaflets you will have to read so you dont miss anything,,there are deadlines so make sure you do things on time. Feel free to ask your classmates or people from staff if you are not sure,,they are willing to help you at all times.

MM what else,,on Tuesday 29 September 09 i registered at the faculty of law,,only took one minute and they have my student pack with timetables, induction dates etc etc etc

this first week its only for you to learn more about ucl services, go to inductions in the subjects you might be interested on taking (this week we have no formal lectures,,its like a taster of some of the subjects you can take so you decide if you like the sound of it, the teacher etc and then make your decision).

there is a lot of info to process, so take your time, organize yourself and breath!

Oh and the classmates are simply great,,,the ones ive met so far are very very nice, very intelligent of course and i must admit that at the beginning i was feeling a little bit shy but then i was likee no no i have to talk more to people so i can make some friends and enjoy my stay here. People are nice so dont be shy ir scared,,,,you are all in the same boat!

So well thats its for the first week,,,second week now!

Second week at UCL,,,,Formal lectures begin!

By PUCCA on Oct 10, 2009

Well then the real thing finally begins!

Im taking International Human Rights Law, International Criminal Law (Im writing my dissertation on this subject), International Law of the Sea and Law and Policity of International Courts and Tribunals.

I have classes from Monday to Thursday. So one subject per day and the class lasts 2 hours.  Your timetable will sure vary depending on the subjects you take. You might end up having to go to uni 5 times per week or more if you are taking two or more 22.5 credit courses and maybe less if you have 2 subjects per day. It all depends on the subjects you choose.

 I was reallt sick this week so its was a very good week but also a bad one because i was not 100% into my studies but well i did my best.That usually happens to me when i move to a new country,,and well it rains a lot in london and its very cold already in October (12°C). In my country the temperature is between 28 and 35 degrees celsious the whole year so that gives you an idea how cold im feeling,,,,and its not even late November or December hehe but well whatever i can take it!

My impression so far its simply great,,,the teachers are nice, the courses are very well structured,,this is a very well organized uni and Im really happy to be here. Its only the 2nd week so i feel very positive and i intend to stay this way. No uni its perfect but it also depends on how positive or negative you want your experience to be. If its up to me i will make this the best year possible!

So far many people from the llm have gathered together two or three times. On Saturday i went to a lebanese restaurant and it was so crowded,,,it was very nice there and i had a lot of fun. I met a lot of people as well. They also went out yesterday night but i was too sick and i decided to stay home and rest. So yes its a nice and friendly environment here in UCL!

Well guys no more week to week thing,,,i might only write once per month and summarize my experience so far,,cause like i said we dont have much time,,and i want to complete my reading list, do some volunteering, take mandarin classes (oh yes) and have some fun why not?

But i will do my best to do a good summary so you can all know what it feels like ti be a llm student at UCL.

Bye bye everybody and good luck to those starting to make their applications for 2010/2011. I wish you the best and i hope this blog helps both people applying to UCL and people considering to apply there..and why not? people from other unis so they dont feel so lonely and find a place to read about being an llm student,,unis and people are different but we all got the same purpose,,,we are all in the same situation,,,its a lot of work but we can do it believe me!

I hope you enjoyed it and sorry for the manyyy mistakes,,,i write too fast sorry!

Seventh week at UCL - Finally its time to submit my research proposal

By PUCCA on Nov 19, 2009

Well everything its still good since last time i wrote which was in week 2.

 Not much to say apart from doing a lot of reading (believe me the reading lists are insane) and going to class. I must say i havent been out much but because my fellow llm classmates dont plan activities cause they do but because i have been sick ever since i got here. I had travelled and stayed in cold countries before for a long time but now im older (26 years old hehe) and apparently it takes longer for me to get used to this cold weather (cold weatherm plus rain plus strong wind is a terrible combination here in London).  And well my nose has been clogged for almost a month and a half and the only time its not clogged is when i use a very strong nasal spray that usually makes me feel quite sick because i overdose all the time because i get desperated because i want to breath through my nose specially at night cause otherwise when i wake up my throat is so dry and hurt due to all the air that comes through my open mouth during the night and believe the pain is unbearable. Apart from that ive been having headaches and i totally don like that.  So the end of the story is that i have to undergo a special procedure when i go back to my country that will help me with this problem (apparently is an injection on my nose or something like that im sure i will totally hate but its better than feeling the way i feel right now)

but well enough with my health problems u are not interested in that!!! but i do encourage you to register with he doctor as soon as you get to London because like me i needed to see the doctor almost the second week i got here and it could happen to you too (I REALLY HOPE IT DOESNT) but you never know,,so its better so be safe and register on time in case u get sick.

On 20 November we all have to submit our research proposal (maximum 250 words) and well i finished that already and im going to submit it tomorrow to my professor by email which is what they asked us to do. Next week im going to join this professor which will be my supervisor to discuss a little bit more about my dissertation and i guess he will give me some feedback and provide comments on my research proposal,,lets see how that goes

 we have to submit our final dissertation topic on 11 December and classes finish on 18 December. After that im going back to my country for the holidays  :) ad then coming back to London around 6 January.

I will write again in December when my dissertation topic has been approved or maybe earlier if there is something interesting to let yo know  :)

Haven't written in a while so here is a small summary!

By PUCCA on Mar 15, 2010

Ok so i havent written in a while. I cannot say i havent had a chance i was just too lazy to sit down and write sorry!

Well my research proposal was accept and my supervisor in super great! Havent seen in a while i must admit, i havent done much but i will speed out after classes are over in two weeks!

 December was ok i me with my supervisor to discuss my dissertation which is about drug trafficking and well its being kinda difficult to get all the material necessary to write about it because its based on my country so there is not many information but well im dealing with it!

I went back to Panama during Christmas and stayed there until January 10 more or less. It was great to see my family and friends and i really wanted to stay there and not come back cause i feel kinda lonely here, i dont know why but thats how i feel. Well its almost over so i ll be ok.

When i came back i just focused on studying and trying to do some research about my disseration topic,,,its been a lot of work but im kinda used to it already! Havent been out much either, people usually do stuff around here but sometimes i feel too lazy to go out in this horrible cold,,,,,thankfully spring is almost here so i will feel way better and more at ease because this terrible cold kept me sick for a long time and well i really need some nice hot weather!

Classes finish on March 25,,,,so im very happy about that,,,im going to amsterdam as part of my law and policy of international courts course, especially to The Hague and we will visit the Int. Criminal Court, the Int. Arbitration Court among others so im excited about that. I will be back on May 1 because im staying an extra day to visit a friend from school who lives so it would be fun.

After i come it will be vacation time which really means study time because exams will be right around the courner,,,i dont know my exam timetable yet but the faculty said they will post it around March 29 so lets see!!! i will let you know as soon as i have it,,,,im really scared,,you have no idea,,,the exams are not gonna be easy at all but i will do my best and study like never before,,i really need to pass,,,im not concerned about getting a distintion at this stage but just to pass and feel good about completing my masters so wish me good luck!

After that then i have a few months left to finish my dissertation and the last day to submit it is September 30 but im planning to submit around the first week of September so i can travel around and have a break.

I was thinking about applying to another internship before going to Panama but well see about that,,like i said before i really miss home but if i get the opportunity i have to take of course.

i also applied to a volunteer position at Amnesty internationa, the closing date for applications was today so lets hope i get called for an interview at least,,,its related to human rights in central america so i consider it totally suits me,,,lets hope i get it,,i will let you know as well.

So thats about it for now,,i will try to write more but i think i pretty much summarized my last few months here,,,,see you soon!!!

Clases are over!!! Spring break is here but its study time :(

By PUCCA on Apr 18, 2010

Well classes finished the last week of March,,,that was such a relieve!

I went to The Hague as part of a study visit and it was amazing,,we visited the int court of justice, the int.court of arbitration, int. criminal court, the special court for sierra leone and the one for former yugoslavia,,it was a very interesting trip and we met the prosecutor of the int. criminal court and a  veryyy important judge at the int. court of justice,,,,what an experience!   my classmaters were very nice,,,there were some i didnt know since the class size is kinda big and i got the opportunity to get to know them better,,so you know if you want to do this little tour take philippe sands class: law and policy of international courts and tribunals,,,outstanding professor and excellent teaching!

this weekend i have another friend visiting and next weekend im going to visit my dad in italy cause he is there attending a course,,,however im doing my best not to loose track of my studies!!

so well my exams are in May,,all 3 of them so im quite nervous but im doing my best!

after that i have to focus on my dissertation and then im free! i want to submit it around august so i can have september to travel around and relax before going back to my country. lets see how that turns out  :)

just to let you know im going to Turkey in July,,,there is the ILSA (International Law Students Association) student conference taking place so im very very excited,,,i already got my appointment to apply for the visa so well see. the conference is focus on various UN related subjects so thats why im so interested.

gotta go now,,its 5 am and i was studying so now im very tired and need some rest,,,,,take care and ill write back after my exams to tell how that went ,,,,pleae pray for me i need a mirable hehe

hasta luego   :)


By PUCCA on May 07, 2010

I have exams starting next week,,,,May 13, 18 and 28,,,im very nervous but hoping for me the best   :)

I will let you know how it goes so im likely to write again the first week of June when hopefully i will be very happy and relaxed to continue writing my dissertation. I want to finish it by August so i can review it and submit early September. Lets hope for that!

Cheers  :)


By PUCCA on May 31, 2010

Okkk now i finally understood why we only take 4 subjects and one of them is the dissertation. 3 exams is more than enough believe me!

so much to study,,,so many case studies,,books, publications etc,,,,that was a little bit too much for only a few months of study but well its over now.

All 3 exams lasted 3 hours each and believe me sometimes its not even enough for all the info you should cover,,,i usually spent most of my 2 and a half hours in the first 2 questions and then 30 minutes in the last one.

The first exam was Int. Human Rights law and you had to choose 3 questions from around 11,,,,i chose the ones i felt i knew more and could write more about of course,,,it was long but i felt i did ok,,,not excellent just ok

 the second exam was law and policy of int. court and tribunals,,you had to chose 4 questions from around 11,,,so this meant answeering 4 long questions in only 3 hours,,it was not an easy task and i sure did my best to write as much as i could,,,i only spent like 20 minutes in the last question but i think i wrote the most important stuff required.

the third exam was international law of the sea...3 questions from around 11 as well,,3 hours and i was very nervous because i felt this was the most difficult exam of all,,i guess its because this subject was more difficult to me than the rest but well i also wrote a lot for the first 2 questions and then only had 15 to 20 minutes for the last question and didnt cover everything i wanted,,,i tried as much as a i could to only take one hour per question but it was not that easy since i first had to check what i was actually going to write about and make sure it make some sense!  

doing an exam in a foreign language is no joke,,,believe me you can know the language etc but its never the same as expressing yourself in your native language,,,i wish i could have written some bits in spanish hehe but well it wasnt possible.

however overall i felt i did an ok job,,once again i say ok not excellent because im only expecting to get a pass or something like not a distinction,,,i would love to but i try to be honest about what i did,,,i feel like i needed more time to study and more time to actually understand all the material that was given.

anyway dont worry youll do fine when your time comes,,i guess in my home country i wasnt use to studying that hard,,,british schools are way more strict thats for sure so i had to adjust myself to a new level of studying and effort.

well hope this brief exam review helps and now im ready to continue writing my dissertation,,well continue or starting writing it,,doesnt matter,,the thing is im going to do it and i want to finish by August 15 so i can have time to review it properly, upload it to the program they have to check you did not do any copy/paste from the internet, etc., print it and finally submit between August 30 and September 1 before noon, which is the last day to submit it. So i wont be writing that much until then,,,maybe just a few times to let you know how my dissertation is going but well its almost over guys,,wish me the best

oh almost forgot,,results are given until late October  :( its going to be very difficult to wait all that long but i have no other choice!

byeee     :))))))))))))


By PUCCA on Aug 25, 2010

I havent written in a while since Ive been very busy with my dissertation. Im reviewring it right now and took a few minutes to let you know that Im done with it. I will submit it next Tuesday to the Graduate Office,,,,i will write again when i do it  :)

 its been a really stressfull year but also a great one!  


By PUCCA on Sep 06, 2010


 Im very very happy because I submitted my dissertation on August 31st around 11 am.  It was due September 1st but I had planned a trip around Escandinavia with my mother who came from Panama to visit me on August 27 so I decided to submit it one day before the due date. And well i also did not wanted to submit it the same day as most people because it would be a caos!  Im so glad i finish i cannot express my excitement!  :)

Right now Im just enjoying a good vacation with my mom. We are in Oslo today and I have been relaxing a lot!

Well thats it for now. I was told the results would be available at the end of October so wish me luck. If you have any questions please write me and i will do my best to help you!  bye byeeeee

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