My first two weeks

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Dec 11, 2005

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Greetings from London! Well, I have been here for two weeks now. In some ways it seems a lot longer than that - and in some ways much shorter. I am living with a host family in the town of Northwood, the county of Middlesex: a suburb of London. I am about 14 miles from the center of the city. My family is wonderful. John Spencer, the father, is a doctor who works from home. Athena, the mom, is a psychiatric nurse who travels and sees patients in homes and mental health facilities. They have one daughter, Katherine, who starts college next week, and one son, Alex, who just started high school. The Spencer's have opened their home and have been very kind to me. I am staying with another student, John Aho, who also happens to go to Carleton, in the home stay. All of the other students on the program live in central London in an apartment. I chose the home stay so that I could better experience British culture. Besides, who can turn down home cooking and laundry services?

On Tuesday I start classes. I am taking British Politics and Health Policy (a course on the British National Health Service). I have class two days a week for a total of six hours. Classes are held in central London at the Florida State University Center and are taught by local faculty, most of which are from the University of London. I am looking forward to classes starting. I hope they are interesting. I don't expect them to compare to classes at Carleton, however; I would be surprised if the workload and difficulty are anything close to Carleton classes. Being here in London on this program has made me appreciate what I have at Carleton: competent faculty, great classes, an organized and friendly administration, and wonderful classmates. I think I will return Winter Term and enjoy my classes like I haven't before.

My internship is getting off to a slow start. I work for Mr. Brian Binley, a conservative MP (Member of Parliment) from Northampton. It is his first term in Parliment and his first significant political office, so Mr. Binley is understandably under pressure from the party to consolidate his seat and do well. I am looking forward to Parliment opening on October 10. After that, I will be "basically running" Mr. Binley's office. Wow. What responsibility and what a great opportunity! All of his other staff work in his office in Northampton. Unlike in the States, MP's here have very small offices and staffs. This means that interns are treated like full-time staffers and given responsibility and real, meaningful work. I only hope that I do a good job and meet the expectations set for me. Until October 10, things will be slow. I am still waiting for my security pass to clear and will take a computer course. There may be a few meetings and things I can attend, but there isn't much work to do yet as Mr. Binley is new and doesn't have any Parlimentary business to deal with at present.

Since I haven't started classes yet, I have spent the last two weeks in orientation and exploring London. My orientation ended on Thursday of last week. Since then I have been living with the Spencer's and doing a bit of sightseeing. A look at my pictures will give you a better idea of what I have done. In the future I will try to update this log more frequently to explain what I am doing, but for now I will summarize and give you the highlights. Probably the most interesting things I have seen are the Tower of London and the Cabinet War Rooms. The Tower of London is the ancient fortress in London on the Thames River first built by William the Conquerer after his successful invasion of England in 1066. It is one of the best preserved and impressive castles in the UK and in Europe. It even houses all of the jewels of the monarchy. The Cabinet War Rooms are part of the underground bunker used by Churchill and the British government during World War II as a wartime headquarters. The rooms were sealed up in 1945 and opened a few years ago. Now they are a museum showing the bunker just as it was in 1945 - down to the paper clips on the tables and the cubes of sugar sitting in a coffee cup. What a trip back in time!
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karenquick on

Dear Andy,

Thanks for sharing your awesome site with us. It's really neat to go along with you on this adventure. We sure think of you alot and miss you too! Hope this is adventure of a lifetime!

Our love,
Karen and family

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