See British Democracy At Work (literally!) Past Review

By (History, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/17/2015 to 04/25/2015 with

Hansard Scholars Programme: London - Hansard Society

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Learned a lot about British democracy, but also about myself: how to manage an office environment and conflicts, how to stay self-disciplined and motivated, and how to live to a new city.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Internships were the highlight of the program, with the most emphasis placed on them. Dissertations were another important part and were fairly academically rigorous. Classes and grading were not particularly harsh, indeed if anything they were easier than I was used to. Guest lectures provided context and added enrichment to an already exciting program.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Hansard staff seemed a bit disorganized at times, but were generally very receptive to feedback, or at least were willing to respond and justify their actions. Everything worked out well in the end.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Three stars account for Conway Hall's excellent central London location alone. However, rooms were small, kitchen was badly designed, and building was generally dirty. Security felt pretty good. Facilities (washer/dryer) malfunctioned several times.

* Food:

N/A: No program food was provided (in general), food in London was better than expected.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Integration was mostly at work and on our own social time. Met some interesting people at work who I got to know well. Also made friends with a pub owner down the street who was very friendly and welcoming. We had very minimal interaction with LSE students, except for in the library for the most part.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Plenty of pharmacies nearby. Other than that, I didn't really access British health care. Hansard staff showed concern and were helpful when I got sick on a program-sponsored trip (I was fine, just ate something that made me feel ill). Hansard provided names of physicians and other heath professionals to contact if we needed them.

* Safety:

London felt very safe. General caveats apply for a big city: watch your surroundings and bags. Parliamentary safety procedures were in place at work.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Figured out how to survive in London on the cheap easily enough. Cooked most of my dinners, sometimes bought booze at Tesco and Sainsbury's and drank at home rather than in pubs to save money (a pint averaged around £5). Ate lunch in Parliament, which had good food for very cheap. Markets were a bit of a splurge (although sometimes provided great value), but were well worth it for the cultural experience and better-quality food.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~£90/week, or about $125
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat in Parliament or bring your lunch. Don't go out to much. Check out the markets which can be a surprisingly good deal (or not).


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Internship
  • Dissertation
  • Living in the heart of London
* What could be improved?
  • Organization
  • Housing
  • Rigor of classes
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had known more about how the general election of May 2015 would impact the program's schedule. Internship was condensed into a shorter period but with more days per week, which limited travel time to Friday night - Sunday night. But, got to be involved in an exciting electoral campaign, which was an unforgettable experience.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Parliament and Politics

Course Department:
Instructor: Simon
Instruction Language:
Comments: Simon was a fantastic lecturer and integrated his material well into the broader experience. Exams and essays were straightforward.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Politics and Public Policy

Course Department:
Instructor: Peter
Instruction Language:
Comments: Peter was knowledgeable, the classic brainy, somewhat absent-minded professor. Lectures were generally good, though sometimes hard to follow.
Credit Transfer Issues: