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"I wanted something that would keep me on my toes."

Matthew Bucki-Smith, who is undertaking an arts/law degree at the Geelong Waterfront Campus, is preparing for a year of study in China after being awarded a prestigious scholarship by the Chinese Scholarship Council.

With a place at the Beijing Language and Culture University’s College of Advanced Chinese Training, Matthew will head to China in March 2016 where he will continue to develop his language skills in spoken and written Mandarin Chinese.

‘My decision to apply arose out of a casual discussion with my Chinese lecturer regarding how I might continue to develop my language skills after finishing my major this year. It sounded like a fantastic opportunity and – although believing it unlikely that I would be successful – I decided to apply,’ he explains.

Matthew’s life-long interest in Chinese culture was a key factor in his decision to study a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws – majoring in Chinese – at Deakin.

‘Deakin has a reputation for being a progressive and high-achieving … and with number of years studying Chinese behind me, and an interest in commercial and corporate law, I felt Deakin offered me the best opportunity to make the most of both these interests.

I wanted something that would keep me on my toes – the intellectual rigour of law and vagaries of foreign language succeed in this regard,’ he says.

Through Deakin Law School, Matthew has enjoyed several opportunities to apply the legal skills and knowledge he has acquired in the classroom.

‘As well as practical skills competitions, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the Geelong Football Umpire Tribunal program where I advocated on the behalf of an umpire in the Barwon AFL League tribunal, assisting in the presentation of evidence to the tribunal and cross-examination of players,’ he says.

Matthew says he intends on making the most of study year in China by experiencing as many cultural and language-learning opportunities as possible.

‘Having never been to China before, I am looking forward to the opportunity of wholeheartedly immersing myself in a language and culture that has – for many years – been a passion of mine.’

By improving his fluency in Chinese Mandarin, Matthew hopes to apply his language skills in a business context.

‘It’s common knowledge that strong relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific are critical to Australia’s future. It is my hope that in developing a deeper understanding of the language I can be an integral part of that future, and particularly be better equipped to deal with the novel legal questions sure to arise from an increasingly close trade relationship with China.’

He says it’s an exciting time to be studying law: not only does it play an important and integral role within society, but it’s currently undergoing significant change.

‘Australia faces a number of challenges that the law hasn’t had to deal with prior to now. Trade agreements, new technology and an increasing awareness of human rights are all changes that the law has, and is continuing to adapt to. As a law student (and, hopefully, a future lawyer), it’s fascinating to be engaged in the study of a subject that is undergoing such a transformation.’