Last fall I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to study on the Parliamentary Internship program. I had always wanted to study abroad, but I never thought I would end up on the rainy east coast of Scotland. The plan was to travel to France, and more than likely, study in Paris where I could improve my French and visit every museum the city had to offer. At some point during freshmen year, one of my friends pointed out the Scotland program. An internship sounded like a great way to accomplish something meaningful while I was transplanted into a new culture and system for four months. It would give me the opportunity to become connected to my new home, and to possibly make a difference in someone’s life.
A year later, I can tell you that taking on an internship while abroad was the perfect fit for me. I took five weeks of classes with a group of seventeen Americans. Our three classroom courses were UK Politics, Scottish Politics, and Scottish Society and Culture while my internship counted as a fourth class. Each was designed as a small crash course on all things Scotland and politics. After studying under some of the top political scientists in the country, I spent ten weeks interning for Stewart Maxwell a Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) from the Scottish National Party (SNP) from West Scotland. Interning meant that some days I ran an iPhone charger down to chamber floors, others it meant fielding calls from constituents, a lot of time was spent working on my term paper for Mr Maxwell, and sometimes it meant having the opportunity to meet the now First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. It was both a relaxed and serious atmosphere. There was enough responsibility that I grew to be confident in a work environment, something that I truly needed. I found that I was comfortable picking up the phone to call someone and was not too worried about how thick the accent on the other end of the line would be (don’t be mistaken, Scotland speaks English but with many accents and dialects). I found that, in general, the Scots like to joke around and have fun. The majority whip would walk past cracking jokes about how my MSP was never in his office. Or the entire floor would walk down to the Parliament pub to share a pint as soon as the debates for the day closed at 5pm. I would walk into the elevator in the morning with members from all parties poking fun at each other and cracking up. All of this laughter and play occurred during the aftermath of the Scottish Independence Referendum where everyone was trying to figure out what would happen next for Scotland.
My experience abroad changed me profoundly. I have found that I am more comfortable and confident with who I am because going to Scotland gave me the space I needed to grow personally and to explore the world outside of Southeastern PA. Transitioning back into the microcosm of F&M was not easy. However, I was able to take my passion for Scottish Politics and apply it to my studies here which helped to anchor me back into F&M society. And while I have enjoyed every second here in Lancaster with my fellow Diplomats, a piece of me will forever be in Edinburgh and I cannot wait to go back.
Lauren Muliawan '16
Term Abroad: Fall 2014
Weis College House
Major: Government, American Studies
- Off-Campus Study Ambassador
- Weis College House Assembly of Peers
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