Law Ball, Ambassador Lecture Series, Opening of the Academic year… We sat down with Costas Georgiades, a 23-year-old law student from Cyprus, who is the epitome of student involvement. We discussed the different projects he is involved with and what led him to where he is now. Read on to find out more about Costas!
Interview, and text: Valentin Calomme
Why did you come to Maastricht?
Born in South-Africa from a Thai mum and a Cypriot dad, Costas started his life as a citizen of the world. His family moved to Cyprus soon after, where he grew up. As he told us, he has always been interested and involved in youth work. Thanks to that, he got to travel all over Europe for conferences and other youth events. He constantly ran into people who were associated with UM, were they students, alumni, or staff. After having served his military service in the air force, he decided that he too wanted to join Maastricht University. The central location of Maastricht, its European Law programme taught in English, and its international environment swayed him and made his decision easy.
What was the first project you worked on?
The Law Ball. As most of you know, this has become one of the most successful events in the student community, and it is growing bigger every year, going from 150 to 800 people in 4 years! What many do not know was that it all started with a few European Law students who wanted to organize a formal gathering for their year. Then, it became much bigger than any of them would have ever imagined. Costas made sure that we understood that he was not alone his endeavour, putting forward his friends Max Hümer, Luca Bücken, and Felix Schulte-Strathaus who all contributed to the project.
Costas also mentioned that this was one of the many examples that shows that the university is a great platform to help students achieve their ideas. UM gave them full support and after the first two editions, the Law Faculty decided to officially endorse the event, thanks to efforts by the dean herself.
What other projects are you currently working on?
“I am currently the project coordinator for the Ambassador Lecture Series. I am very proud of what we have been able to do so far and I am very excited to see what the future will bring. And I can’t stress enough that the entire project is run by students. I think this is something special”.
Back in 2013, Costas was going to class and as he walked in the Law Faculty, he met the person in charge of the Ambassador Lecture Series. He was intrigued by the concept and asked her who was in charge of it and how he could help. He did not look back and now, he is in charge of the team of students who brought Jimmy Wales, Erin Schrode, or even Patrick McGee to the university.
“Currently I am also the project secretary for a big gathering of young people on the 7th of February 2017. The event is called Generation Maastricht – YO!Fest and aims at gathering 3000-5000 young people from all over Europe to come to Maastricht and have a meaningful discussion about Europe on an equal footing with politicians and high-level EU officials. It falls under the Europe Calling! Campaign that is run by the municipality of Maastricht and the provincial government.”
Costas explains this came quite unexpectedly after coincidently meeting the policy advisor from the municipality working on this project. He told us that it was great to be able, as an outsider, to be this involved and get a non-academic experience. This opportunity has also allowed him to set up a meeting between Cypriot students in Maastricht and the president of Cyprus!
What are your plans for the future?
“I really want to stay in Maastricht for a year or two because it has so much to offer. I also want to give back to the city and the university. This feels like home, I don’t want to leave very soon”.
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in European Law, he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Globalisation and Law, and told us that he wants to stay here for a few years. He loves the university and never fails to promote it when he goes to conferences abroad. He added that he was part of the team that helped organize the Opening of the Academic Year in September after being approached by the organizing team. Costas found this to be a valuable experience. Working with other fellow students, staff but also the president of the university himself Prof. dr. Martin Paul was a great example of why Maastricht University is special. “We all together managed to give the OAY a refreshed look to the ceremony taking into account all of the university community”. He also believes that the Ambassador Lecture Series concept can really take off, and who knows, maybe it could become a fully established project of the university. He also shares with us his secret ambition that hopefully, one day, prominent speakers will be keen on being a speaker, while at the moment the major task is convincing the speakers on why they should come to Maastricht.
What advice would you want to give incoming students?
“The university offers great opportunities but these opportunities do not come to you, you have to be proactive, have initiative, you have to force your luck. Be active, meet people. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking backward.”
He also added that it was important to find a balance. Joking about the fact he is not certain that he has found his yet. Indeed, on top of his studies, work, and all of his projects. He still finds time to go to the pool to swim and play water polo. And on top of that, he works more than 30 hours a week at a Greek restaurant in the city. Some would think that this is in no way relaxing, but he would beg to differ.
“It’s intense but relaxing. It’s a good way to take your mind off things. When you swim, it’s you against the water, it’s you against the world. I would totally recommend it to anyone. As for the restaurant, it’s a great opportunity to interact with local people.”
We were then able to ask him a question that many people have asked him before us. “Why the suits?!”. Costas is always sharply dressed, and many are shocked if they see him wearing a hoodie. He explained that it all goes back to everything he previously explained. “It might be a lawyer thing, but you never know who you’re going to meet, so you better be prepared”.