As soon as I started studying politics at school, I knew I wanted to do it at uni. I felt passionate about the potential of politics to make a real difference in all walks of life – no other subject matched that.
After having a good look at various university courses for straight politics (as opposed to a joint honours course), I selected Newcastle as my first choice partly because it has a bigger department than most other universities. For me, this showed how seriously the university takes the subject – and it means you get a wide variety of professors, each with expertise in different areas.
At the open day I was persuaded of the Newcastle department’s merits by the energetic module leader, David Walker, who more than makes up for in charisma what he lacks in height. So there’s something for everyone, and for a subject as diverse as politics that’s crucial.
In the first year, politics students at Newcastle are introduced to comparative politics, international politics and political theory.
I’m in my second year, and we have three mandatory modules and three optional ones chosen from a range. I went for African Politics in the first semester, and American and Russian Politics in the second. All, it turns out, are gripping beyond belief, so no regrets there. I’ve got 10 contact hours a week, spread between lectures and seminars.
I am not a party political animal: that’s not what motivates me. My mum is an old leftie so it’s hard for me to rebel! What I’m most interested in is how politics affects life in the real world – I chose American politics because it had special relevance during the year of the presidential election. People ask me if I want to be a politician: I don’t. I’m thinking about social work at the moment.
As far as the machinations of party politics goes I rather agree with Ronald Reagan (otherwise not my fave guy) who commented, ‘It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.’ Think about it.
I’m so pleased I picked Newcastle. I think my application was helped by the fact that I did a month’s work experience with our then-prospective parliamentary candidate in north London (she won, so she’s now our MP). I did a lot of campaigning for her on fairly deprived housing estates and learned a lot about what really interests people. It’s usually the bins. Oh well.