Well, week 1 of living in London is done and dusted and what a wonderful week it has been! The sun has been shining for the most part which has been fantastic to explore this great city in. It was a pleasure to join with my peers on Saturday 20 May to embark on our 8 week journey together as part of the Hansard Scholars’ Programme, which sees us undertake study with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) as well as an internship with a Member of Parliament here in the UK. As a QUT Business student majoring in Public Relations and Management, real world experiences have always been my dream and this experience really is just that and more! Politics has always been an interest of mine which has been heavily influenced by my part time employment as a political staffer whilst I study full time. Where better to experience this passion of mine than none other than London?
Obviously it is a very exciting time for ‘political junkies’ with a ‘snap’ General Election occurring on the 8th of June. Given the country’s current situation with regard to Brexit negotiations, it is certainly a fascinating time to be present. It is clear that there are many contrasting viewpoints being presented following the referendum held last year for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. I am sincerely enjoying being a part of the programme which also comprises scholars from across the USA, the UK, China and France. With Parliament currently non-operational due to the looming election, our internship placements will be finalised once the Election results are known and commence shortly after. A short sacrifice that had to be made however we have reaped many more benefits being in the UK at such an influential time.
This week, whilst jam packed, has included city sightseeing and all the usual photo opportunities. What’s a trip to London without a stop off at London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben anyway?? More significantly however, we were given the unique opportunity to tour the Parliamentary Archives within the Palace of Westminster which gave all of us scholars a massive insight into the enormous history this nation possesses. I was absolutely enthralled in the history of the documents (on parchment) that are carefully preserved here which included original signatures of Queen Elizabeth I and a copy of the US Declaration of Independence. It was also a unique experience visiting the Churchill War Rooms where UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill led his country from (in basement rooms) during the 2nd World War. We were also lucky enough to receive a tour of the Houses of Parliament within the Palace of Westminster and I was absolutely stunned at the enormous history this building possesses. The intricate and ornate detail was phenomenal, with the houses also being host to many original artworks of British Sovereignty. It was especially thrilling to be able to walk through the chambers of the House of Commons and House of Lords, the exact places where rich political debate has occurred over time. It was also surreal to be in the same place that many current and past greats of British Parliamentary history have attended. I just can’t wait to intern here!
On a more serious note, classes have commenced at the London School of Economics and Political Science, which might I add, is an absolutely amazing campus to study at with an exceptional reputation and world class facilities. It also has a delightful green field across the road which is great for studying, however we also quickly learnt that this area is very popular amongst locals on their lunch breaks. I have been lucky enough to be involved in contrasting guest lectures arranged by the Hansard Society which are giving us a unique experience to hear election commentary directly from industry professionals. Classes have been very involved as we begin with an introduction to British Politics and the Westminster System, prior to devolving into greater analysis and investigation of the political situation here in the UK and the issues facing the nation.
I am really looking forward to the further immersion into what is one of the richest political systems in the world and seeing the Election result unfold! Oh – I am also looking forward to not being touted as a ‘tourist’ and rather a ‘local’ here in London – shame that Aussie accent isn’t helping?! This coming week will see me travel to Edinburgh, Scotland for a 4 day study trip. It certainly has been a fantastic first week and I can’t wait to experience all that awaits me here in London!!