The Catholic University of America

  Top Five Reasons to Select the Program

  1. Although my concentration is in American Politics, I thought it was really important to explore other political and governmental options. Just because you may concentrate on American politics doesn't mean you can't be knowledgeable on anything else! Studying the structure and ways of the British Parliament gave me a whole new set of eyes to see our American government though!
     
  2. This internship opportunity is once in a life time...literally! You will never find an opportunity as amazing as this! Landing this type of internship for an MP is hard to get, even for UK citizens. The fact that CUA is able to offer these positions is extraordinary! There's only 60 student internship positions available throughout Parliament per semester...better grab one while you can!
     
  3. In addition to landing a great internship at Parliament, you are going to make some pretty awesome contacts for the future, meet extremely powerful people, and witness really unique events. My MP introduced me to so many British lawyers, business CEO's, and chair's to various All Party Parliamentary groups. I was able to attend PMQ's (Prime Minister's Questions) to see Prime Minister David Cameron and Opposition Leader Ed Miliband. And I even got to attend a meeting with Bill Gates and take a tour of Big Ben!
     
  4. British culture is amazing! Westminster is located right in the heart of London. Everything from the best pubs, stores, and attractions (I mean, you WORK in Westminster) are all at your fingertips. There's no better outlet to be at than Westminster to be able to experience British culture to the max. It doesn't matter where you go in the city, there is always some historical or cool cultural meaning behind it.
     
  5. The class in partnership with the University of Leeds is a totally different learning environment than here in America. It offers students a chance to learn from a different set of professors and speakers. The class time there goes hand-in-hand with the internship experience really well, in addition to giving you advice on how to take away as much as possible from the internship. The drama class required for the spring semester was also a great opportunity to experience the best of London't West End. There were shows to fit anyone's taste, and all were unbelievably amazing!

 

Top Five Things You Wish You Knew

  1. More British lingo would have been helpful. Understanding the accent is easy, but its helpful to know certain words when out about in the city and working in an office. "I'll ring you" (I'll call), "I'll drop you a line" (I'll e-mail), "Till 3 is available" (Cash register 3 is open), "I'll meet you at the lift" (Meet you at the elevator), yeah you get the idea.
     
  2. Europeans stick to their seasonal wardrobes. It doesn't really matter how unseasonably warm it may get in February or March in England, its still winter, so you should dress like it. You may not think you need to, but keep that peacoat out a little longer.
  3. Theater tickets can be pricey, but there's a way around it. My program required students to see five different theater productions while in London. Tickets can definitely get expensive, especially for some of the more popular shows, but there are always around that. Whether it means having to sit in the very last row, in the corner, or wake up at 5 A.M. to wait in line outside the theater (in the cold for four hours) for discount seats, just deal with it. (It may also tell for a good story later on!) Either way, any show on London's West End is great no matter where you in the theater.
     
  4. The British population is pretty quiet when on public transportation. Talking on the tube to your friends isn't a super popular thing. You're best bet is to just pause your conversation until you're back out on the streets. (See the embarrassing story below for more on this topic).
  5. England isn't a third world country. Okay, well everyone knows this. But its still scary to head off to somewhere completely new and have zero idea of what to expect, and that's totally okay too! I wish I had been able to talk to someone who had visited London before to ensure me that all the little things I stressed over were silly and that, yes, London does have the same face wash and shampoo I use here in America.

 

A Funny Story or Situation

Pub Culture 101

Shortly after our arrival to London we received an email from Ed Gouge, our professor, giving us instructions on where and when we would meet for our first class. So the morning of our first meeting we ventured across the city to meet Professor Gouge. The first half of the meeting was normal: basic introductions, who we were interning for, what class would consist of, he served us tea...you know the basics. After tea, though, we switched venues, and moved our meeting to a pub. Umm...I'm sorry, but wasn't this class?! And weren't we with our professor?! And to top it off, it was only 11 A.M! None of these questions matter though, we of course had to go. We really didn't have a choice. So off to the pub we went with Professor Gouge. Upon arrival he bought us a round of drinks and we continued with a much more informal version of class.

At only noon we were sitting two drinks in at a pub with our new professor. I'm pretty sure its safe to say that nothing like this would ever happen in America. But pubs open much earlier than bars do here, and its much more socially acceptable to have a drink that early in the day for no other reason but to have a drink. Definitely not a cultural difference that we were opposed to.

 

A Difficult Situation

The first weekend in London our group decided to buy the London Pass (a discount pass for every cool attraction imaginable in the city). This weekend was pretty much a crash course on navigating the city via the tube and bus. Our group included eight rambunctious Americans new to London, so not the most quiet group. Anyways, we were on the bus for the first time trying to make our way to a certain part of the city. All of us were just sitting around chatting and waiting for our stop to be announced. Well apparently our stop was announced and we missed it and didn't even realize, oops! So a few stops later we asked our bus driver how many more stop until ours. A very angry, British bus driver spun around in his seat and yelled, "Well maybe if you all weren't talking you would have realized we passed it five minutes ago!!!". Not really the response we were expecting, but needless to say we quickly got off the bus and just decided to walk.

Moral of the story: don't talk. And if its important, whisper.

 

The Teacher From Whom I Learned the Most

Our professor, Ed Gouge, was a star. He traveled from Leeds to London, which is a three and a half hour drive, once a week to have class with us. Although we only had one actual class once a week, Ed Gouge totally made it worth it. He helped us with our adjustment to London and made sure we were able to get everything we hoped out of our internship experience. He also held two of our classes in a pub, so bonus points right there.

Housing

Conway Hall definitely exceeded my expectations for what I thought the housing would be like. I really don't think the program should ever move the housing from where it is now. Conway Hall, shared with all American students, most from Notre Dame, is in prime location in the city, and is great inside too! Located in Waterloo, it sits right across the street from Waterloo Station, one of the largest tube stations in the city. It also is right down the street from the London Eye, and only a 15 minute walk to Westminster! The inside was apartment style and offered the six girls in our flat three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a common living space. It was much nicer and much more spacious than what I was expecting. Definitely an A+.

 

Student Profile:

MajorPolitics

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Program: British Parliament Internship

Term Abroad: Spring 2012

Contact Samantha