Spanish Steps

Spanish Steps


The Student Exchange Program at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law offers a chance to visit a variety of attractive locations around the world. In recent years, the Faculty signed agreements with leading institutions, including the law faculties at UCLA and Stanford. The growing importance of East Asia was reflected in new agreements with top-ranking schools in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Exposure to foreign academia is a special opportunity the Faculty offers to outstanding students. The exchange program is growing each year, in terms of both the number of institutions and the number of students participating.

A large number of students apply each year for the exchange program. Some of the applicants are looking for a different cultural and academic experience as a break from the routine of life in Israel. Others are mainly interested in the chance to learn about different legal systems.

Brief enquiries suggest that most exchange students focus mainly on their studies, but also take time to visit the sites and to get to know students from around the world. Reut Hevroni (24, Jerusalem) is a third year law and psychology student. Reut, who certainly meets the program's requirement of excellence, is visiting ESADE University in Barcelona, Spain through the exchange program. Her choice of Spain was no coincidence, and was motivated by her passion for traditional flamenco dance. "The homeland of flamenco is in Spain, although further south in Andalucia," she explains. The beauty of flamenco lies in its folk character. Reut recalls an experience that emphasizes this: "Once I was just walking down the street when a woman started setting the rhythm and a young man began to dance. It was as if people suddenly started dancing the hora in Tel Aviv," Reut joked.
Reut Hevroni.

"Reut describes the experience of studying in Barcelona as a taste of classic European academia. She is enjoying the opportunity to study at a university steeped in the Continental tradition and in a foreign language, and to encounter an unfamiliar legal system. The program includes one semester of studies, but the Spanish academic system has given Reut a chance to develop both in her law studies and in her hobby, which in her case is really a second profession. Despite her love of dance, Reut also mentions some challenges: "It's a very hard profession and a very competitive world. Maybe one dancer in a million manages to make an impression, so it is very hard to decide whether this really what you want to do." Reut is combining two competitive and demanding fields, but she still manages to pursue her law studies and to dance several times a week. "I think I will always find time to dance, because it's something that makes me feel good. I would love to be successful in this field, but there's no way of knowing where it will take you."


Reut seems to enjoy the best of both worlds. Her fellow students are fascinated to find themselves sitting alongside a flamenco dancer. We asked her how students from different countries react to her hobby. "Everyone who hears about it is really enthusiastic. It's a great way to start a conversation," she says. "Some people are also looking for ways to add special value to their exchange experience – something different they can do. For example, one woman who studies with me is a hockey player, and one of the guys likes to dance salsa. The fact that other people are doing things outside their studies motivates you to do the same." Reut, our representative in Catalonia, is certainly taking her exchange experience step by step.

And what about the experience of studying in Spain?

The studies have a strong practical orientation.

Apart from the different geographical and cultural setting, there are also quite a few differences compared to law studies in Israel. Most of the students are aged 18 to 22, and the fact that they are younger than their Israeli peers explains some of the differences in the study requirements. For example, approximately half the student's final grade (and sometimes more) is based on attendance at 80 percent of classes and participation in class. The lessons are based mainly on reading material, and the lecturer often begins by asking the students what they thought of the material. An informal discussion in the corridor between students in the Faculty of Law raises an interesting conclusion: Although the Israeli students read less than their Spanish classmates, they participate more in class. Is this just Israeli bravado? We'll find out when the final grades are published. For now, our representatives in Spain are discovering that the Continental legal system influences the study style, as well as the content of the courses. The system is based on legal codes and the judge plays a different role; perhaps because of this, the studies have a strong practical orientation. In many cases, the law is taught as a simple point of fact, without discussing the rationale behind its enactment. Law students, and even those working in the profession, do not always know the judges by name. "If a judge is known by name, this is usually not a good sign," comments Dr. Anna Salom Vidal, a lecturer in comparative law.