The Decision to Study Abroad: Keaton Ashlock

The decision to study abroad can be a tough one. Finances, travel, family commitments, and job opportunities are all factors that play a role in that decision.

Meet Keaton Ashlock. He’s a Washburn 2L from Bolivar, Missouri who attended Missouri State University. Keaton took a bit of a non-traditional route in studying abroad this summer before his 3L year. Here he shares his decision to join the program and his perspective now that he’s returned from his first international trip.

After not even considering the summer law program in Barbados for my first summer at Washburn Law, I was somewhat surprised the following fall when a professor recommended that I still look into it for my second summer. I thought back to the reasons for which I had initially disregarded the idea, including thoughts of a high cost, a long time commitment, and the fact that none of my closer friends were going. However, after completing the program, I realized how mistaken I was for worrying about all of these reasons.

Upon attending the informational meetings prior to signing up, I quickly learned that the additional costs associated with the program were not nearly what I expected. The dorms, transportation, and food were all very reasonable, enabling most students to live as cheaply or extravagantly as they might in the states. In addition to this, a scholarship was available from the Office of International Legal Programs, which helped offset some of the additional costs.

I was also concerned about the time commitment of the program because of my plans to graduate a semester early; I did not want to risk missing the opportunity to complete some much needed classes. As it turned out, the time scheduled for the class was no more than that of a normal first block class, allowing me to complete either a second block class or an internship afterward. In fact, the professor who had recommended the program was aiming at attracting students planning on graduating early, as a way to maintain a high course load, while also enjoying the change of pace and scenery that the program has to offer.

My last major concern when I first considered applying was not knowing the other participants as well as I would have liked; while thinking about spending six weeks in a foreign country, I would have preferred to go with a closer friend. When I finally decided to apply during my 2L year, no one that I knew was even considering applying, and I had barely even been acquainted with most of the other Washburn students upon arriving in Barbados. I don’t regret the decision one bit. It allowed me the opportunity to get to know the other students and professors from both Washburn and the University of the West Indies more than I would have otherwise, and I count this as the single biggest highlight of my time abroad.

I would recommend this program to any law student, whether it be for the first summer or last. The multinational aspect of the course material and class makeup provides a great way to expand anyone’s legal education, no matter what career path they might be aiming for. Through this experience, I have learned more than I even expected about about law and policy, cultures, people, and more profoundly, myself.