When you first come to uni, you feel like you’ll be there forever. 11 weeks of hungover lectures pass by slowly, Christmas comes around, and then you start to realise that your time is limited. Luckily, Leeds has more extracurricular activities, themed socials, club nights and sports to try than you could ever fit in. In my third year, I’m still walking round corners and seeing shops or bars that I’ve never noticed before, and that’s what I love about living in a city. But if you’re a country person at heart, the Dales are only a short train ride away.
Part of what attracted me personally to Leeds was its reputation for political activism. The Feminist Society, which I am a part of, successfully campaigned for the closure of a club night names Tequila last year, which made the national news. We have some one of the best unions in the country in terms of support for minority groups, with the newly introduced Liberation officers running new campaigns all year round, and we have really good services for the many students who experience mental health issues while at uni. It is also a very outward-looking campus politically; issues tackled are not just those which affect students, but national issues such as the no to TTIP protests and talks currently being held around the city.
In terms of my actual course, I switched from Philosophy and Economics to Philosophy and Politics a month into first year, realising that the fact that I kept falling asleep in Economics lectures wasn’t a good sign. I couldn’t be happier with the decision, as the course I’m now on has an amazing choice of modules and is run by two fantastic departments. Whether your interests lie in contemporary EU politics or the works of Descartes, a joint honours course can be very closely tailored to you; one of the reasons I would recommend them is that in general (in Arts subjects at least), you have fewer required modules. In first year I did two modules on the history of science, something I’d never had the chance to study before, and thoroughly enjoyed both.
One thing to bear in mind about joint honours, though, is that often you find yourself engaged in many different types of learning or styles of essay at once. This can be a hard act to juggle, but it’s very doable once you get the hang of switching, and can often provide a relief from studying the same thing all day! In my second year I took a module in Ancient Philosophy which was taught very differently to all of my other ones, which at first worried me. The idea of being prepared to do a 5 minute presentation on the seminar topic every week was scary! But I came to realise that it made me engage much more with the reading than I otherwise would have, and it ended up being one of my favourite modules. I’m now doing my dissertation on Plato’s Laws and really enjoying it. Uni is a time to push your boundaries, so go ahead and take that module on the Philosophy of Food, join the Stage Musical society or go on a year abroad – better to try something, even if you don’t end up enjoying it, than to look back at your time at uni and wish you hadn’t spent the whole time watching Come Dine With Me. Not that there’s anything wrong with watching loads of Come Dine With Me. We are students, after all.