Passport? Check. Plane ticket? Check. Visa? Check. Background check? Check!
Who knew that going to London required a background check? Well, it was all just in a day’s work for junior Emily Rouse as she prepared to take on an internship at British Parliament. Equivalent to snagging an internship in the United States Congress, Rouse’s Parliament journey was just beginning.
It all started with a visit to Central’s campus as a junior in high school. Rouse came to Central as an Upward Bound representative—an organization that supports and prepares students in their higher education pursuits. She participated in a leadership conference while in Pella and found a place she could call home.
“I just fell in love with the campus,” Rouse says. “I made my decision to come to Central right there. It was simple.”
After choosing Central, Rouse started on her English major and communication studies and political science minors. Staying in Pella all four years wasn’t an option. She knew her future was abroad, but she wasn’t sure where to go. With seven semester programs, choosing a location can be overwhelming. But the internship opportunities helped make up her mind.
After narrowing it down to London, Rouse knew what she wanted out of her four months abroad—an internship at Parliament. The budding lawyer was excited to gain experience that would be relevant for law school in the future.
Her first days on the job proved challenging in many ways. London has more than 8 million people—compared to Pella’s 10,000.
“It was kind of overwhelming when I stepped off the plane, because it is so different,” Rouse says. “Within a few blocks, you have the population of Pella!”
Getting used to city life wasn’t the only challenge—the buildings of Parliament span multiple city blocks, above and below ground level, which caused a lot of confusion for the young traveler. Her office was located in Portcullis House, built in 2001 as a supplementary building for Members of Parliament—or MPs, as the Brits would say. And her office was under the street, making it difficult to get her bearings.
“It was hectic and overwhelming trying to remember things,” she says. “My supervisor told me to get lost the first few days. He told me to get lost and find the library and return a book. An hour and half later, I would show up after finding it!”
Returning library books wasn’t her only job. Rouse worked on everything from database organization and stuffing envelopes to writing letters to constituents. Her MP, Bridget Phillipson, who was elected in 2010 from the Labour Party, was often around the office and took her to sit in on meetings. And Rouse…well, she was star-struck.
“Getting to meet Bridget—having her know me and invite me to some of her committee meetings and getting to sit through them and see it—that was awesome,” she says with a smile.
Rouse gained invaluable experience from Parliament—not only through her work, but by making connections with fellow interns and office staff. And although Rouse isn’t sure what direction her law career is headed, she is absolutely certain of one thing: Central College Abroad was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
“If you want to do foreign relations, law, politics or anything related, there is not a better way to get integrated than in Parliament,” says Rouse. “Without Central’s help and determination to get me an internship in Parliament, I wouldn’t have learned so much about myself. It’s an amazing experience. You learn so much about the world when you study abroad. It is honestly an experience that nothing can rival.”