Louis Helsby post Ballard (web)
After leaving Ballard in 2013 I went on to Highcliffe Sixth Form where I studied History, Religious Philosophy, Maths and English Literature and I attained AAAB at A-level. Since leaving Highcliffe last year I am now studying Government and History at the LSE (The London School of Economics and Political Science). When I decided to apply to the LSE I did so having been enticed by its location, being in central London, its superb academic reputation and the multitude of opportunities available at the LSE. Certainly, in all these respects it has not failed the very high expectations I had upon arriving. (Although to all those thinking of going to University I would advise that, generally, having such high expectations is not a good idea) .
To come back to LSE’s location, the advantages of being in central London I think cannot be overstated both from an academic and social point of view. Although of course, having spent 18 years living in Highcliffe or New Milton, living in Halls (University accommodation) in the borough of Camden, just a 5-10 minute walk off Oxford Street, where everywhere is constantly busy no matter what time of day or night was daunting at first. Far more daunting however was having to cook all my own meals and do all household chores for myself – in truth I’m still getting used to that. I’ve sought to take full advantage of being in London having been to see Paul Mason, Channel 4 News’ and formerly Newsnights’ Economics correspondent, on a panel discussion talking about his new book ‘Postcapitalism’ under the Dome in St. Paul’s Cathedral, I managed to get free tickets from the Faith centre at the LSE. I’ve also seen Charles Moore, a Biographer of Margaret Thatcher, lecturing on his second volume of the biography. Furthermore, I’ve been involved in a few formal debates, in as close a style as possible to the House of Commons, on proposed topics such as Nuclear weapons and Inheritance tax. I was awarded a trophy for being the ‘Best opposition speaker’ during the latter. These events are just very small examples of the activities of a large and vibrant academic community at LSE which I’m thoroughly enjoying being a part of.
In terms of my course the standard of teaching is world class. I have to say I was initially a little perturbed when having a class discussion for a History course I’m taking ‘The International History of the 20th century’ on strategy and diplomacy during the First World War with my class teacher Professor David Stevenson. As Professor Stevenson is one of the most prominent Historians specialising in WW1 and has published numerous books and articles on the subject as well as having a few television appearances in 2014, being the centenary of the Wars commencement. Though of course with high quality comes a high workload. Attempting to read St. Augustine’s ‘City of God Against the Pagans’ in 2 weeks for my political theory class was the biggest intellectual challenge I’ve had to face yet, as the work is over a thousand pages long and very complex in places. Although the workload does vary, such as when we covered Machiavelli in the same class. Machiavelli’s seminal work ‘The Prince’ is only around 90 pages so I really do not wish to deter anyone interested from contemplating a demanding course of study in Politics or History.
Outside of the academic arena I’m also employed by the LSE as a Student Ambassador, this involves giving tours of the campus to prospective students or school parties, student shadowing, as well as being available for PR purposes on events such as open days. It’s a great way to feel as though you are a part of the LSE community and to meet ambitious, yet nervous, school and college students and to try and give them some reassurance having faced the same challenges that they’re currently facing. Besides this it’s a helpful source of income. Additionally, I’m currently rehearsing for a Drama production as the Drama group are performing ‘The Millionairess’ by George Bernard Shaw, also one of the founders of the LSE, in which I’m playing the part of Alistair. Finally, there’s an active sporting scene at the LSE, the Student Union Gym is always popular and I’ve found 5-aside football games to be a great way to do some sport if you do not want to have to venture too far across London or outside the city..
Overall, my first term at LSE has been busy, hectic, exciting and often daunting but I’m enjoying it and looking forward to what awaits me during the rest of my time here and anticipating the opportunities that a Degree from the LSE will provide in the future.