I am fortunate enough to be working with the US-UK Fulbright Commission (in case you missed my last few postings!). Honestly, the people are wonderful and the location is great. I am thoroughly enjoying my time here, but it can get a little cramped working in an office eight hours a day. Naturally then, when I have the opportunity to go around London for work, I adore it. Anything from postcard shopping at the London Eye (yes, that was an actual two hour job) to touring our reception area at the Foreign is very refreshing and welcomed. Every year, the Fulbright hosts a huge orientation for all their grantees about to sail across the ocean to study in schools like Harvard, Cornell, Yale, and of course, the University of Michigan. I have had the opportunity to help plan this amazing networking event that takes place at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, a building was all the political magic happens in London (and where visitors are extremely restricted). As I toured the building, I could not help but note some of its amazing features that so few in London get to see due to tight security.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is absolutely stunning, complete with different decades of architecture and age-old historical artifacts around every corner. From a 2012 Olympic torch to portraits of Napoleon and his wife. It is hard to argue the genius that went into creating the beautiful and thoughtful designs in-and-around the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. However, the modern political issues of the day made it all the more fascinating because this is where the magic happens. Right there was No10, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and of course, the infamous cat that inhabits the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Especially in light of all the political drama that the UK is facing at the moment. It was incredibly helpful to go into this field trip with some background knowledge about Brexit and the hung parliament. And these are just the modern events, it is crazy to think about the heads of state, royalty, and much more that have visited this one building once upon a time in the heart of London. And now I was visiting not only once but twice (once to tour before the actual reception there). Although with less security, the black house, No10, with England’s prime minister had an uncanny resemblance symbolically to our White House in the United States.
If you can’t tell by now, I am a bit of a history fanatic. To me, touring an old building and learning its history is gold. Both the United States and the UK have such incredible histories. However, what I think was so neat about the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in comparison with something like the White House is the age behind it. Europe has a much longer and complex history then the United States and it was an honor to be where some of it had taken place.