Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Nataliya Mykhalchenko

BA International Development | 2013 - 2016

Photo of Nataliya Mykhalchenko

My motivation to study International Development at Leeds

Through studying human geography at school, I became very interested in global challenges particularly issues relating to inequality, education, migration and health. I was considering various courses including politics, geography and law. When I came across a course called ‘International Development’ (ID), I knew straight away – this is what I want to study!

The course content sounded very interesting and when I researched more about the University of Leeds and the city, I got more and more convinced that by studying here I would get a great student experience. Over my two years here, this has definitely been the case.

My experiences in POLIS

My experience overall has been great across all aspects of my university life. I enjoy my course and the variety of extracurricular activities. I am particularly impressed by the teaching staff on my course. Their valuable feedback, willingness to communicate and provision of guidance helps me to get the most out of my academic experience.

Moreover, POLIS, with research centres such as Centre for Global Development (CGD) are very active at organizing seminars and other events aimed at furthering academic development of students. Such events welcome academics and professionals from various parts of the world and offer a great opportunity for students to build strong networks and learn from their experience.  I would strongly encourage students to set aside time and come along to these events and gain knowledge that they would not otherwise acquired as part of their studies.

My course

The first thing I must say is that I was very lucky that I have come across this course. Although the course isn’t new and has been around for a while, many people, when I tell them what I study, look at me a little puzzled and say – what’s that about? Then, feeling all smart and proud (because I know something that they don’t), I say – ‘’have you got a bit of time’’? The reason for this is because ID isn’t simple to explain. It encompasses so much and is so multidimensional that we won’t be giving its fair due by attempting a simple explanation.

Overall, the course has greatly exceeded my expectations. From tracing the origins of the birth of the concept of ID to contemporary policy practices, the course offers a very comprehensive and stimulating insight into this profession. All of my modules have been academically stimulating and the fact that I have had a chance to choose half of my modules meant that I could both specialize in a subject that interests me and try out something new. The brilliance of the course is also in the fact that it offers a critical perspective on the concept of ID and its operationalization. I have understood how the importance of critically analysing development initiatives, with regards to intentions, outcomes and sustainability. The skills that I have acquired as an ID student including research, critical and analytical skills are invaluable for my future study and professional life.

Extracurricular activities

I also really enjoy being involved in extracurricular activities.  I had a chance to be involved in setting up a new – ‘Practical Initiatives Network (PIN) Students’ society and now hold the position of a treasurer. The society acts as a platform for all those interested in ID and works towards closer integration of undergraduate students with Masters and PhD students, researchers and academics.

Over the course of this year we have held many successful events, including ‘Ebola: Leeds Responds’ Conference and in collaboration with CGD we regularly run the ‘Working in Development’ Talk series. These talks welcome academics, professionals and students to share their experience of working in the development field and aims to broaden students’ knowledge on various aspects of working this sector and open new career pathways. Personally, being involved in such activities has helped me to gain many valuable skills, build network and simply have a good time.

The facilities

What impressed me first is the sheer size of the campus. When I brought my mother to visit the University, upon seeing the campus map, she said ‘’is this the map of Leeds?’’ No mum, this is just the campus! Everything starting from the architecture to the green areas, the little cafes and spaces for students create a fantastic atmosphere for learning, communicating and simply enjoying the student life.

The Leeds University Union is fantastic at offering students support and proving with various opportunities. Over 250 societies – will keep everyone busy! Despite the fact that there are over thirty thousand students in the university, I have always managed to find a comfortable space for myself. I particularly like the lower levels of the Parkinson’s Library. There is some sort of magic about the design of the library, the swirling isles of books and the smell of pages – old from age and heavy from messages they hold. Being surrounded by worlds’ greatest literary pieces inspires to produce (not quite the worlds’ greatest) but at least good essays!

Life in Leeds

The city is a great hub for students and young professionals. It is very vibrant and has many exciting places including night clubs, shopping centres, museums, The Leeds Art Gallery and many more. If you’re more into walking and enjoying the nature, a ten minute bus drive from the city centre, will get you into magnificent Roundhay Park. How beautiful it is in spring bloom! Overall, whatever it is you’re into – clubbing or enjoying art and music, Leeds will suit everyone’s interests.

After graduation

On graduating from the University, I would like to get some experience perhaps in teaching or working for a local charity. I have grown to love Leeds so much that I will try my best at getting a placement here in the city or somewhere nearby. I am planning to continue my education at Master’s Degree in a subject related to ID in the future.

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