Nikita Papastamatis, Politics and International Relations student

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Student spotlight: The USYD community and studying online

4 August 2020
A lively, inclusive environment full of critical thinkers
We recently caught up with second year Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor Advanced Studies (Politics and International Relations) student Nikita Papastamatis, to ask him why he choose Sydney, what classes were like online and how he came to major in Philosophy.

Why did you choose the University of Sydney?

USYD is globally renowned for its high quality of teaching and education.

It’s reputation as one of the world leading universities for student experience and graduate employability made it an appealing place to study after completing the HSC – especially for my area of study.

The University of Sydney has produced countless critical thinkers who have contributed to the greater good of society on a global scale.
Nikita Papastamatis, Politics and International Relations student

When did you know you had made the right choice?

During Welcome Week was when I knew I had made the right choice.

From the official faculty welcome in the Great Hall to the sea of clubs and societies stalls in front of the quad, the ‘Sydney Experience’ that everyone boasts about dawned on me.

Since then I have been able to involve myself in countless opportunities and make the absolute most of my time here at the University of Sydney.

How does it feel to be part of the USYD community?

It’s so vastly diverse and unique. I’ve built some very strong friendships in my short time at university – friendships which I feel will last a lifetime (as cliché as that sounds).

The campus is very conducive to feeling part of a community: you never feel isolated on campus as there is always something to be part of. Even during the lockdown, when there was potential to be so disconnected from people, my tutors made sure that everyone was doing ok at the start of each class. They really focused on how I can excel and achieve the highest marks possible.

All my tutors have created a high energy tutorial environment where everyone is eager to participate and enter into really enriching discussions and debates about that week’s content.
Nikita Papastamatis, Politics and International Relations student

What were you expecting when classes switched online?

To be honest, I really did expect the worst. There is something special about rocking up to a 200-person lecture and trying to find a row for you and your friend to sit in, then after intensely concentrating for two hours, heading over to Courtyard Café for lunch.

But much to my surprise, the transition online was well executed for such an unprecedented and rapid move. Zoom proved to be a great and, in some cases, an even more fun replacement to the traditional tutorials and lectures.

The online mode also proved advantageous – it allowed me to cater my studies to the crazy times we were in.

But this added freedom also proved challenging too. The routine I had set up during my first year shifted. Now, instead of facing in-person accountability in tutorials, we could Ctrl+F the readings. Self-directed learning is innate to university study, however the online environment definitely intensified this.

What drew you to study Politics and International Relations (PIR)?

I could not imagine myself studying anything else at the University of Sydney.

The Politics and International Relations program at USYD is a streamed course which brings together like-minded students in their study of Politics and International Relations. All the topics we have covered in the course have been really up to date, covering issues that are current or have occurred recent – sometimes with topics shifting depending on what is happening globally.

The discussions and debates we have in classes are also incredibly enriching, where we all gain from each of our peers, expressing their perspectives and understandings.

And why choose Philosophy as a major? How does it relate to your PIR studies?

When it came time to decide my additional major, I was told by a senior lecturer on the Information Day to think carefully about what I was going to choose.

After going through the FASS handbook many times, I found that Philosophy would complement and potentially enhance my studies in Politics and International Relations – and this has been my experience now, two years in. It is in my philosophy subjects that I’m able to more deeply engage with the theories and theorists we explore in the PIR program.

We offer one of the most comprehensive ranges of arts and social sciences subjects in Australia. With more than 20 undergraduate degrees, more than 40 postgraduate coursework degrees and a suite of dynamic research degrees, we have many ways to meet your study and career needs. Click here to learn more.

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