Student Journeys

My Journey to the University

International relations is essential in shaping both our history and future, and politics enable us to try to do so without conflict. I want to develop my knowledge through my BA Politics and International Relations degree course, as I am passionate about this subject.

Attending an international school in Dubai, I experienced a myriad of cultures, religions, and languages, influencing my desire to work in international relations, politics or diplomacy. The privilege of being exposed to such a fast-moving 24-hour trade hub roused a keen interest in geography and, eventually, global politics. Living in an Islamic country, I wished to understand the conflict between radical jihadist groups and the West. At 16, back in the UK, my English-speaking exam focused on the covert operation to locate al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Jason Burke’s book ‘The 9/11 Wars’ was a fascinating source of research.

During my Geography A-level studies, the global governance topic confirmed I wanted to study politics and international relations. I enjoyed learning about international trade and overseas policies. Studying resource security clarified challenges in international relations today. The current volatility of energy market security may impact many countries economically, and lack of access to affordable energy could cause political or economic instability. However, in a conference with the Chinese communist party, Xi Jinping presented water security as an impending international security crisis, as China holds 20% of the world’s population but 6% of its drinking water.

I read Tim Marshall’s Prisoners and Power of Geography books to expand my knowledge of geopolitics and the interdependence of nations. They provided a beginner’s insight into the relationship between the physical boundaries and structure of countries and how this influences their economies and global political power. The author considers the effect of bilateral agreements, including the US-driven Artemis Accords, intended to govern the exploitation of the Moon and its resources. Global diplomatic discourse will be needed to prevent space from being a future political flashpoint.

Reports regarding the Ukraine conflict illustrate to me the complexity of global politics. 141 nations out of 193  attending the UNGA adopted a resolution on Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine”. Despite this strong diplomatic stance, comparing the small number of countries actively making economic sanctions against Russia is interesting. The UAE abstained from the vote but promised $100 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, however, they won’t instigate sanctions. The economic and political reality for many is intricate.

Alongside my degree, I am studying Arabic through the Westminster Polylang programme. The opportunity to speak another language will undoubtedly benefit me in the future, post-grad, when I wish to become a diplomat or work for organisations such as the UN, UNICEF or the World Bank. Additionally, my Arabic studies will aid my interest in Middle Eastern politics and relations.

Choosing to study at Westminster in the heart of the capital will grant me a multitude of opportunities to explore my degree outside the classroom on both local and international scales. I am immensely looking forward to what the next three years will bring.

Maisie Sheffield

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