The Catholic University of America

Kate in front of Tower Bridge

 

Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. It is incredibly difficult to get an internship in Parliament, even as a citizen of the UK. By participating in this internship you are not only receiving an amazing work opportunity, but you will be able to put something on your resume that will set you apart from most other candidates. Any time I go into an interview, the first thing employers ask me about is Parliament, and it's not just because it's first on the list.
  2. The offices of MPs (Members of Parliament) are much smaller than offices of Congressmen and Senators. Often there will only be one or two other staff members in the office, so you are being entrusted with much more compelling work. You also build strong bonds with the people in your office - I still talk to my supervisor almost every day.
  3. This is a completely different form of education than something you can learn in a classroom. You are writing legal briefs, letters to constituents, taking notes in Select Committee Meetings and attending Prime Ministers Questions. I learned more in eight weeks about politics than I have in years of taking classes because I was actually able to participate in the system, rather than study it.
  4. You are surrounded by the people who run the United Kingdom. Walking around Westminster, this will not be lost on you. On my first day of work I walked past the Prime Minister! I also got to see Obama, Gordon Brown, Ginger Spice, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, and have one-on-one discussions with the Speaker of the House of Commons. We became friends with MPs and got to learn so much about so many different people who are rising powers in UK politics.
  5. YOU ARE IN LONDON! London is one of the most amazing cities in the world. It is beautiful, strange, confusing, overwhelming and unforgettable. When I spoke to friends and family in the states, they asked me to compare it to something back in the states, and I simply could not. It is unlike anything in America, and you truly have to see it. History is imprinted on every street corner, whether it be from the imprint of the Great London Fire in 1666 to the bombings in World War Two.

  

A Funny Story or Situation

"The Underpants Story:"

My Mom gave me tickets to see Kings of Leon in London, which was awesome because literally everyone in England is obsessed with them. I invited a friend who was doing an internship elsewhere in London, and she met me at a bar in Parliament beforehand for a drink. It was cold, and rainy, like it often is in London and I had worn heels and a skirt to work that day. Some of the guys I worked with were making fun of me for going to a concert in a park like that, and I told them it was all good: I had pants to wear. Suddenly everyone got awkward and quiet and didn't know what to say. Apparently, in the UK, pants just means underwear and trousers are pants. Nonetheless, they were relieved that I had pants, and trousers, too, I suppose, but it was definitely awkward, all around. Moral of the story: they're trousers. No one needs to know about anything else."

 

An Embarrassing Situation

My first day was probably the most stressful day at Parliament. My MP was meeting with people all day, and since our office was only one room, my supervisor and I had to make ourselves scarce and find places to hide out the entire day. Briefly, while we were in the office, my MP asked me to prepare tea for his guests. I froze. I have no idea how to make tea; I'm American, I drink Starbucks. I stood there and awkwardly looked the room, edged over to my supervisor and told her I don't know how to make tea. Everyone heard, everyone laughed. Americans. It wasn't a big deal, but when you hear about how much British people love tea, it is not an exaggeration: they love it. So remember: boil the water, THEN put in the tea bag, let it sit for a minute, then remove it with a spoon. It is just as simple as it seems.

 

The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

Seeing as it was a Summer internship we did not take the regular courses as someone participating in the Spring Internship would. We had weekly seminars with a member of the House of Lords, which is very cool and sounds impressive to anyone in the States. He is discretely hilarious and knows a lot about everything. However, if you are participating in the Summer Internship, I would implore you to talk to your MP as much as possible. He is very busy, so don't ask him too many questions, but when you have the chance and he is there ask him about politics, his career, policy issues because they are incredibly smart and have very interesting stances and stories to tell.

 

Housing

Our accommodations were far better than I expected. We lived in a townhouse that shared a courtyard with other townhouses that housed American students doing similar programs, so we got to meet other people, too. It was not too luxurious, but it was comfortable, and we had weekly maid service. It was also conveniently located to the "Tube" (London's metro system), so the commute to work was easy. I will say this: any other country you visit, you will be shocked. America is unique in its modernity, and even the nicest homes I visited in England were not as technologically advanced as modest American homes. People still hang their clothes to dry, which seems archaic and makes them feel crusty. Regardless, our accommodations were very nice. If you are over 5'6" you will have to adopt an awkward squat-stance to wash your hair in the shower, and the toilets are absurdly difficult to flush. Air conditioning is rare, but this is excusable because the average maximum temperature in summer months is 65 degrees.

 

Student Profile:

MajorPolitics

Hometown: New York, NY

Program: British Parliament Internship

Term Abroad: Summer 2011

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