"We are strongly encouraged to think critically"

"We are strongly encouraged to think critically"

  • Ramiar Jamal on the Sciences Po campus in Reims  Credits: Sciences PoRamiar Jamal on the Sciences Po campus in Reims Credits: Sciences Po

Ramiar Jamal is an undergraduate student from the University of Kurdistan Hewler (Erbil) in Iraqi Kurdistan. Currently on an exchange programme on the Sciences Po campus in Reims, Ramiar tells about his life in France and what surprised him the most about the Western mindset and values.

Ramiar, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Why did you choose to do an exchange programmes at Sciences Po?

I come from Iraqi Kurdistan, the only autonomous region of Iraq. My hometown is called Ranya and it is located in the North West of Sulaymaniyah. I’m in my last year of a Bachelor’s in politics and international relations at the University of Kurdistan Hewler (Erbil), and thanks to a partnership with Sciences Po I am currently pursuing a one-semester exchange programme on the Sciences Po campus in Reims.

Only top students at the University of Kurdistan Hewler can do an exchange at Sciences Po because of the very selective admission procedure. It’s a prestigious university, a lot of students apply, so I was very happy to be selected to participate. I’m interested in politics and international relations, and Sciences Po is ranked among the best universities worldwide in this field. For me it is also a great opportunity to discover the Western European culture and way of life, and I’m enjoying it a lot!

What do you like about your life in Reims and at Sciences Po?

Here in the West, individual values are more important than in the Middle East. It is all about experience. It gives students the opportunities to explore any field they fancy. It is also easy to find and make friends, boys or girls, and this is also a big difference with more traditional societies. The contact is very easy with other students on the campus;  it doesn’t matter whether you come from Africa, England or France, you can talk to everyone, and everyone is very cooperative and helpful. It is one of the great advantages of student life here at Sciences Po.

And what is it like to study at Sciences Po? Can you tell us about your courses?

I study international affairs and French and I also chose an additional course about the Cold War.
We are strongly encouraged to think critically here, specially when it comes to US domination. US politics are often criticised, and for me, it is a very European approach which is sometimes surprising. Because of my identity,  I can’t think the same way as a typical Iraqi, or as a typical Kurd or as a student.

Why is that ?

As an Iraqi, I can only see America as the cause of an absolute disaster. As a Kurd, it’s different: America liberated the Iraqi Kurdistan and gave us autonomy. As a student, I try to analyse all this through an academic point of view.

What are your plans for the future ?

I’d like to pursue graduate studies at Sciences Po if is possible. I want to become a university teacher in politics, and later I would like to contribute to my country’s development as a politician. I think Kurdistan needs new leaders because the ones who are currently in charge are politicians from the 1990s. This has to change! I believe in a democratic future for Kurdistan, and I intend to be a part of it.

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