Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Rachel Opadiran

BA International Relations | 2014 - 17

Photo of Rachel Opadiran

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I'm currently in my second year studying International Relations. I'm from London and in my leisure time I enjoy travelling and experiencing new international cultures.

What motivated you to apply to study your chosen course and why did you chose Leeds?

The University of Leeds stood out to me for three key reasons: Firstly, it's a research based university which means my lecturers disseminate current, relevant information, their expertise is invaluable to me as an IR student. Secondly, the modules that make up the course facilitate my academic growth because I am exposed to differing modules that equip me with useful skills. E.g. group projects have enabled me to develop teamwork skills as I am required to collaborate and co-operate with other members of my group to produce a coherent project. Thirdly, the study abroad options were very attractive. The University’s international connections are very broad, so I had plenty of options on where I wanted to study. Eventually I decided to study in South Korea, Seoul.

What do you think of your course? Have there been any particular highlights for you?

Within my course, I had the option to study a module called State and Politics of Africa. This was a highlight because it facilitated my growth in independent critical thinking. The module dispelled certain myths and challenged certain discourses concerning Africa. I was very engaged with core concepts such as democracy, neopatrimonialism etc. My engagement in this module meant there was never a dull moment in lectures and seminars. Moreover the knowledge within this module is transferable and has aided my understanding of politics of the global South.

How would you describe the help and guidance provided by the staff within the School?

Staff in POLIS are very supportive because they are always willing to go over material that I need clarification on. By simply booking an appointment with my lecturers/seminar tutors or dropping in on their office hours, I have always received the help and guidance I need for essays or general queries. Across POLIS, I feel that I have been guided and supported by lecturers, the student support officer and the POLIS office as they welcome any questions that I have.

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

There's a range of study areas to choose from (silent study areas, group study areas and even Café Nero), I can always study in a location that suits me. Plus, there is the option of using the University’s own computers so I can work in the library or in clusters. Moreover, I like the balance between work and leisure at the University as there are a number of places to eat and socialise with friends: the Hidden Café is a hot spot for both students and staff.

Have you had the opportunity to study abroad, or complete a year in industry? If so, please tell us about your experience.

I had the incredible opportunity to study in South Korea for the summer. There were a number of activities to participate in; my most memorable experience was climbing Namsan Seoul Tower. The views were picturesque and highlighted the industrialisation of South Korea. I was surrounded by nature but at the same time when I looked further afield I saw beautiful man made skyscrapers. Moreover, I really enjoyed learning about Korean culture, history and language. Visiting places such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Demilitarized Zone brought South Korean history/culture to life as I could to see how certain historical events shaped the way South and North Korea is now.

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities, such as societies, summer placements etc?

I have been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities. The most notable one, the Student Opportunity Ambassador Internship.  As a Student Opportunity Ambassador, my role requires me to market the plethora of amazing opportunities at the University of Leeds to students and staff. Most importantly, I disseminate the message of the benefits of using Leeds for Life – a platform that allows students to track their academic and personal development.

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