And now for something completely different

First of all, I should say: I’m actually very happy I’m here! I know my last post didn’t sound so enthused, but such are the perils of blogging: you choose to diary your ups and downs in a forum where anyone can see them. Of course I could have chosen to let only my positive experiences make it into this travel diary, but somehow it seems unfair to pretend that everything is a constant shade of rosiness. I hope I don’t sound too whiny – I may get a little stressed out or annoyed sometimes, but I’ve never lost sight of the fact that I’m extremely lucky to be here… I would never forgive myself if I let something small get in the way of loving every single little taste of this experience. I’m in London!!! (Mostly) independent and always busy. Having said that, here’s something completely different! Interning in London….

I’m officially four days into my internship experience! I work three days a week (Monday thru Wednesday) 10AM- 5PM for an organization called Policy Connect, which attempts to bridge business and Parliament to affect meaningful policy change. Originally formed by Barry Sheerman MP as a means of bypassing lobbyists to connect MPs directly with stakeholders, Policy Connect deals with many different sectors of policy (environmental sustainability, health, skills, energy, etc.). I’ve been assigned to work with a small niche branch  called the Chronic Pain Policy Coalition (CPPC), which consists of a group of interested stakeholders (businesses, patient groups, pharmaceutical companies, universities) who are interested in the issue of chronic pain. It’s actually a rather interesting assignment, if only for the reason that “chronic pain” never really seemed like a huge policy issue to me. It’s been interesting to read some of the statistics and educate myself about their concerns… check it out on their “About chronic pain” tab!

My typical day usually consists of monitoring Parliamentary activity on issues of health, work, and pain-related issues such as chronic or long-term conditions, as well as monitoring most of the major media websites. One of the best things about doing this is that I get a daily crash course on current events in the government as well as the UK and abroad! The CPPC office is housed in a building which holds several non-profit and social policy initiatives, and they’re less than a ten-minute walk from the Southwark (pronounced “Suth-uck”) tube station and the Tate Modern. Since I get an hour for lunch, I usually spend my time exploring the neighborhood and slowly working my way through the Tate’s massive collection of exhibitions. Not such a bad gig!

Today I was also informed that I will probably be working with another organization called EPP-CIC (Expert Patients Programme – Community Interest Company), who have an office on the same floor as the CPPC. Originally funded by the National Health Service (NHS), they’re now a non-profit company that helps teach patients with long-term conditions how to self-manage their illness. They wanted an intern 2 days a weeks for the next 4 weeks, and apparently PolicyConnect volunteered me. Since my work visa only allows me to work a maximum of 20 hours a week, that means I will be splitting my time between PolicyConnect and EPP-CIC for the rest of my stay here.

My camera battery has been dead since I got here thanks to a faulty charger, but keep on the lookout for lots of pictures and more stories about daily life, British quirks, the latest news, and my recent trip to Wales! Now off to bed…

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