Michelle Chung '20 outside Parliament.

Before studying abroad, everyone encouraged me to visit the fun, touristy areas of London as well as the historical, local neighborhoods. They advised that I explore London and try to learn more about the culture from its natives, taking advantage of every learning opportunity.

When they said to explore London, I don’t think they expected that I’d have the opportunity to marvel at the incredible chambers of the UK House of Lords in a tour led by an actual member of Parliament.

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The visit was hosted by the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA-Butler), an organization that leads a number of the pre-approved study abroad programs for students at Hamilton. As a programming provider, IFSA helps students prepare for their transition to a new country and welcomes students when they arrive, offering advising sessions and coordinated group field trips.

Guiding the tour and discussion was Lord Dick Taverne who became a Queen’s Counsel in 1965 and a member of Parliament in 1996.

We were first ushered into one of the discussion rooms for Parliament members. In this room full of attentive American students (all studying at different universities in London), Lord Taverne began to discuss both British and American politics. He expressed his fascination with the American government (and some of his dissenting views), discussing everything from how specific government choices could affect climate change, world trade, and global relations.

Another main topic of conversation was the decision for Brexit. Especially since the official plan for Brexit has not been solidified, he shared his thoughts on the future of the British government and its relationship with other countries in the EU. Hearing about this from a British citizen who had political power was enlightening and the conversation as a whole gave me a better understanding of the country I was visiting for the very first time.

After the discussion, we walked through the halls filled with statues, portraits, and beautiful architecture. Lord Taverne then brought us into the magnificent House of Lords chambers, filled with beautiful architecture, magnificent decor, and a rich history. The ability to be in such an important room as an outsider was surreal and an experience I never thought I’d get to have.

Alex Cook ’20, a government major studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science, also took advantage of the visiting opportunity. After the tour and discussion, he said, “Amidst all of the political uncertainty in the world (especially in the US and UK) it was a unique and special opportunity to hear from a decision maker who knows and follows the facts. To put the cherry on top, we got to do it in Parliament, which was a cool experience in and of itself.”

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