My First Days in London and First Impressions of My British Museum Department (Balqees Nakhla, ITP 2019, Palestine)

Written by Balqees Nakhla, Collections Custodian Assistant, Birzeit University Museum (ITP 2019, Palestine)

When I first came into London I didn’t have a very good start; I lost some of my stuff at the Jordanian borders, then I lost my bags at the airport in London and then I was hospitalised for having kidney infection. Not a very good start for my first time abroad! But being in London meant so much to me that I didn’t actually care about my baggage or about being hospitalised on my very first days here. For some people, it’s something ordinary or usual to be here; but for me it’s not, it was a dream; and this took a lot of effort and sacrifice from me to be exactly where I am today.

The Great Court of the British Museum

I have not always been lucky in life, but I am smart, I am talented, I am hardworking, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work hard to get what I want. This is the reason why I am the youngest fellow in the ITP this year, and this actually makes me proud of myself and everything I’ve been through. In this blog I’m supposed to write my first impressions of my department activities and colleagues, but this will be more like a narrative of my whole first experience here and more like a stream of consciousness.

There are a lot of great things going on here in London. Since the first day I got here I’ve discovered great places around the city, I’ve met great and extraordinary people, and I have the chance to work with absolutely amazing people.  There’s nothing that you cannot love about London and its people. There’s so many great London neighbourhoods, places to eat, drink, and explore. The people here are so warm and welcoming!!

With the ITP Fellows outside Schafer House

Moving on to talk about the British Museum and my experience there; there’s so much to say about this particular part of my experience in London. The British Museum: the museum of the world, for the world. I’ve always thought that I’m special for working in the field of museums, but after seeing what I saw at the British Museum I feel more responsible now towards everything that I saw. I feel that I need to exchange and spread all of my knowledge to all the other people who didn’t have the chance to visit the British Museum yet. It is absolutely amazing. This training with the staff and everything related to it has exceeded all of my expectations.

Currently I’m located in the Middle East department. I feel so happy to be there, to have the chance to work beside all of those great people and to be able to experience such a great opportunity and to learn more and more from them.

Me as an artwork at Tate Modern

All I can say that I am happy to be here, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without all my colleagues. I’d like to mention George Peckham and Emily Shaw from the ITP team, both of whom helped me a lot to adapt from my very first day! I could never say thank you enough to the manager of this programme, Claire Messenger, who was able to answer the immense amount of questions I used to ask every single day. I could never thank you all enough to be part of this great experience.

If anyone ever tells you that your dreams are crazy; no matter how big or small they are, then go out there and show them what crazy can do!