The following post was written by Kelli Hamilton, JRF Scholar Class of 2019.
Read this post for the secret to making the perfect, authentic Belgian waffle. Now that I’ve got your attention, I would like share with you the amazing month I had studying abroad. I have always wanted to expand my horizons, learn about various cultures, and avoid ethnocentrism, so when I was granted the opportunity to do so by studying political systems in various European countries, I knew I had to strike while the iron was hot.
I embarked on a 12-hour flight to London, U.K., on the first stop of my study abroad program. Thanks to JRF’s incredible Rachel Robinson International Fellowship (RRIF), I was able to finally realize my dream of studying politics abroad. I am a Political Science major at UCLA because I believe politics influence every facet of life. Additionally, I want to be a criminal or international human rights lawyer one day. Getting a feel for different nations and their legal and political proceedings is crucial in my path to personal and professional development.
Throughout the next four weeks, with the guidance of my professors, Barry O’Neill and Guilia Sissa, I toured London, Brussels, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Paris, France.
In the UK, I was able to sit in on a session in the House of Lords, take a tour of the House of Parliament, and visit Buckingham Palace. It was also interesting to learn about the impact of Brexit, which involves the UK leaving the European Union (EU).
The EU is a political and economic union of 28 European nations that is headquartered in Brussels. Through this program, I was also able to take a tour of the EU headquarters and gain insight about European political proceedings. I learned a lot about its strengths and challenges and about the future prospects of the EU.
Human rights and court cases have also always been of interest to me. Visiting the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands was amazing. I listened to a case concerning a Congolese warlord who was being tried for crimes against humanity. Additionally, I visited the Dutch Parliament and learned about the legal systems of the Netherlands, which will greatly aid me in my future career prospects.
Studying abroad allowed me to grow academically as I was introduced to the politics of Europe; socially as I made new friends; and culturally as I learned more about local customs in each country I visited. I feel so blessed that JRF enabled me to study abroad and experience the world from another perspective. This experience solidified my desire to be an international lawyer who enacts positive change in the world. Although the program was A Wrinkle in Time, as it was only a month long, it has shaped me and my career prospects for many years to come.