Svenja Bauer

Politics and International Relations - BA

I think, for my course, it’s really good to come to a university with a large international student population – it makes a difference.

Why did you choose Kent?

Kent is known for its knowledge and focus on Europe and has a big international student community with many international lecturers as well. I’m German and I was hoping to study my degree in an international setting because I went to an international school. Also, I wanted to study in English. 

How is your course going? 

I like it a lot. It’s going very well and I like the fact that we get to choose so many of our modules. Of course, we have introductory modules which are important because we need that foundation in each part of our subject. But then, very soon, we have a wide range of modules to choose from. I think I liked every single one of mine. I took two modules on the politics of the European Union, which is a really interesting topic right now. I’m also studying feminist political thought and that’s extremely interesting.

What do you think about the academic support?

All my lecturers are very open and approachable. They always say that they’re happy to help and I feel comfortable going to see them in their office hours. That’s a helpful thing ¬– the office hours every week. I don’t even need to book an appointment; I can just go and ask them something. 

There’s a lot of general support as well. For instance, in my first year, I’d been used to speaking and writing in English but still, I felt that I could use some support. So I took a course in essay writing that was useful in preparing me for university-style academic writing. 

I regularly go to the Skills Hub in the School of Politics and there are office hours run by seminar leaders, with general support for essays, assignments and time management. In my first year, I also attended the Value Programme because I felt a bit overwhelmed by having to study for four exams. This was really good. I had extra intensive seminars for each subject that I had an exam for. Seminar leaders provide this support in small student groups, so we could come and have a recap session and ask questions.

What about extra-curricular activities?

I joined a lot of societies in the beginning – it’s a good way to meet other international students. I was part of Ballroom and Latin Dance in my first year, which was really cool. I also enjoy yoga which is something very relaxing we can do here. 

My main society is Amnesty International. Last year we campaigned on climate change as a human rights issue, to raise the awareness among other students. And this year we had a petition as well, so that students could sign and ask the University to declare a climate emergency. We have socials too – a quiz night recently, or we go out to a pub together. 

I like the pubs in Canterbury and it gives us the chance to have some fun. We like to have Christmas dinners in our society. It’s a nice way to end the first term and we usually go to the Penny Theatre. That’s become our favourite place.

Another thing I’m part of is the GOLD programme. It stands for Global Office and Leadership Development Programme. We’re a team of 50 students and we go to workshops to learn about cross-cultural communication  or cultural intelligence. We also help the Dean in organising conferences and hang-outs for international students.

What about the facilities on campus? 

I really like the library. It’s a nice, open space where I can actually work. Sometimes I move between the café, where you can chat with friends, to silent study areas, which I like a lot because you’re not allowed to talk there. That makes it really easy to focus on your studies. 

In my first year, I thought it was interesting how the campus is like its own little town. You have everything you need. We have a supermarket, restaurants, a nightclub, a cinema, we even have a theatre. You don’t ever need to leave campus when you’re living here; it’s just this small community.

Has Kent helped you with any career plans?

I went to the Careers and Employability Service to have them check over my CV and application letter. That was really helpful because, in the UK, CVs are very different to what’s expected in Germany. 

One thing that really helps is that I was able to get a part-time internship with one of my lecturers. She’s a researcher for the WomanStats Project and she offered two posts for research assistants. I help her to look into policies that countries have regarding domestic violence. She really values our contributions and she’s open to any questions from us. 

Right now I’m applying for future internships – one with the United Nations and one with the Policy Research Centre. But I also want to study for a Master’s. I feel like I’ve just started to understand politics and international relations and I want to continue learning about it.

Any advice for prospective students?

I think, for my course, it’s really good to come to a university with a large international student population – it makes a difference. Once you’re here, reach out to people. Make use of everything that’s here. That will definitely make a huge difference to your university experience.