Chez Moi!

Our latest blog post comes from ACCENT London’s newest recruit Jessie Buller, who joins ACCENT as an Assistant Programs Coordinator after finishing her undergraduate degree at King’s College London. As part of her degree, Jessie spent a semester abroad at the University of Toronto. After exploring Toronto and the Anglo-French city of Montréal, Jessie reflects on her time abroad and how it enhanced her understanding of her own cultural identity.

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Grave Encounters: Visiting London’s “Magnificent Seven”

ACCENT London’s Harry Isitt, a native Londoner, recently stumbled across London’s Magnificent Seven: seven overgrown, architecturally beautiful cemeteries that serve as the final resting place of over a million people. Harry discusses the historical and social origins of these cemeteries, the famous people interred therein, and the quiet, eerie beauty of these sites.

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Florence to London to Paris

University of California student Rachel DeAngelis is no stranger to our ACCENT Study Centers in Europe. An adventurous traveler, Rachel has studied abroad with ACCENT three times in three separate cities. Each time, Rachel has taken full advantage of the services offered by our ACCENT staff and the opportunities that abound in some of the most beautiful cities on Earth. Rachel has opted to share some of her best memories of her time abroad and offers some tips for making the most of this one-of-a-kind experience! Continue reading

Multimedia Journalism in London: Interview with Steph Bell

This week’s post comes from our London Study Center, where TCU student Caroline Love studied Multimedia Journalism for one action-packed semester. For her video project, Caroline chose to interview Programs Coordinator Steph Bell, capturing Steph’s warm personality and her love for her work.

Journalism is practiced all over the world, but not many American journalism students can say they’ve practiced journalism across the pond. I’m fortunate enough to be one of those lucky few.

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Celebrating Pride in London

In this week’s post, ACCENT London’s Intern Plamen Momchilov describes the city’s vibrant Pride celebrations, its long struggle for LGBTQ+ equality, and the truly informative retrospectives on display this summer throughout London’s museums. We hope all of our staff and students in London have a Happy Pride!

People tend to say that London is a colorless urban jungle that can be painted only in grey. However, each summer, its busy high streets become decorated in color to mark a most joyful celebration of diversity and equality. Continue reading

London Likes…!

In this week’s post, ACCENT London’s Programs Coordinator Harry Isitt discusses his favorite place to enjoy a quick bite and its unique place in film history.


They say that once you have a favorite local spot, be it a pub, a café, or a restaurant, that nothing can top it. In my case, my favorite local London joint is Santa Maria Pizzeria in South Ealing. This Neapolitan-owned pizzeria has been serving West Londoners like me the best pizza outside of Naples over the last 7 years and has built a devoted following in the process.Picture1 Continue reading

London Likes…!

Today’s post comes from Programs Coordinator Steph Bell, who tells us why the Wallace Collection is one of her favorite places to visit in London.

In my free time, you’ll often find me at the Wallace Collection, one of the lesser-known museums in the heart of London—just a 10-minute walk from Oxford Street. Housed in a large townhouse on Manchester Square, the original owners of the museum bequeathed their Collection to the Nation in 1900 under the condition that none of its items were to ever be sold. Continue reading

London Likes…!

In this week’s post, ACCENT London’s Programs Coordinator Kadri Paju and Assistant Director Matt Maslin talk about their favorite local spots for quick snacks and delicious meals, both conveniently located near the ACCENT London Study Center!


Kadri Paju likes…

Caffe Paradiso, 28 Store Street

Whenever I’m in Bloomsbury early in the morning, I treat myself to an almond croissant and a cappuccino at Caffe Paradiso on Store Street.

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London Called, I Answered

Today’s post comes from University of Southern California student Tara Bitran, who spent four exciting months in London. Below is an excerpt from Tara’s travel blog, wherein she says a poignant goodbye to London, promising to visit again soon.

img_4261Well, guess it’s time to hang up now. London called, and I indeed answered. It’s been a long four months of spotty connections and some heartfelt moments, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with how this phone call has played out— probably the most fruitful of my life, in fact.

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Global Edge: Theater in London

Our first post this year comes from Rona Wang, a first-year student who studied in London for her fall semester with UC Berkeley’s Global Edge program. One of the courses Global Edge participants take is called London: Theatre Capital, taught by Professor Alan Read from King’s College London. In her post, Rona analyzes one of the plays the class attended and describes how studying theater in London has been a truly eye-opening experience.370744_770_preview

UC Berkeley Global Edge courses are designed to let us take university breadth requirements while also learning more about the city we are studying in. One of our London-based courses is called “London: Theatre Capital,” in which we attend a performance every other week, alternating with site visits to places like the Tate Modern to explore what “performance” really means. Continue reading

The Beauty of Studying Abroad

Our final ACCENT blog post of the year comes from UC Berkeley Global Edge student Lynn Hoang, who shares with us how spending the first semester of her Freshman year infirst-picture-in-london London broadened her perspective, inspired personal growth, and gave her the chance to develop firm friendships with her classmates.

The best advice I would give to anyone studying abroad is to prepare yourself for change. Continue reading

Mercato Ballarò: Learning a Language through Food

Following up from last week’s entry on Tuscan cuisine, this week’s post comes from Kadri Paju, our new Programs Coordinator at the ACCENT London Study Center. Kadri is originally from Tallinn, Estonia and studied in Palermo, Sicily as part of her undergraduate degree. Kadri describes to us how being exposed to the rich culinary culture of Sicily helped her overcome the language barrier.

imgp4923 With very limited Italian language skills and having never traveled to Italy, I decided to study abroad in Palermo, Sicily. I had no idea what to expect. Needless to say, the year I spent there was extremely challenging and rewarding.
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London Likes…!

This week’s Live Like a Local post comes to us from our ACCENT London Study Center, where Programs Coordinator Tim Marsh tells us his favorite spot for weekend shopping, quick eats, and “an authentic taste of twenty-first century London.”

TMIn my free time, I like to explore the markets beyond the classic ones like Borough Market Covent Garden. My new favourite market is one local to me, Chatsworth Road Market. It’s great for finding local produce, street food, and second-hand clothing. Alongside the market, there are a few great independent shops and cafes to explore, such as L’épicerie, Creperie du Monde, and Cooper and Wolf, a Scandinavian breakfast café.

The reason I love this market is because it’s a true “local” market full of colorful characters. It’s a wonderful melting pot which contrasts the more-food-stalls“old” and “new” London: Jamaicans selling jerk chicken, cantankerous older gentlemen with their unique antiques (I’ve seen them carrying creepy old dolls in glass decanters), French artisans selling baguettes and crêpes, cockney fellows with their fruit and vegetable stalls, and “hip” artisans and sellers. Walking through the market, you’ll get an authentic taste of twenty-first century London. Clapton, where Chatsworth Road is located, has a great community and I find that people are quite friendly and open to making conversation with strangers. One seller once described to me how this market has brought renewed life into the neighborhood, reinvigorating an area that hasn’t always had the great reputation that it now boasts.

~Tim Marsh, ACCENT London

Did this post inspire you to study abroad? Use the ACCENT Program Finder to discover your next great adventure:

Educational Exploration: Guided Walks in London

This week’s post comes to us from our London intern Plamen Momchilov, who describes how visiting a city and learning from a professional guide can be a more engaging learning experience than simply sitting in a classroom.

It has been said that, without a doubt, London is a historically rich city, filled with centuries-old buildings and curious stories to hear. From Roman walls, through Medieval palaces, to Victorian splendor, there is a 2,000-year history to explore within the center of the capital.

Typically, the way that we study a subject (such as the history of London) at a university would be through a series of lectures and seminars. But being physically in London provides a plethora of opportunities to explore endless amounts of interesting sites. It is even easier if you have a knowledgeable guide to teach you about a topic you are interested in while being surrounded by the living history of this city.

In the last month while I attended guided walks, I soon realized that there was more to explore than I had thought. Though I study and live in the area, I felt as excited as the visiting students, who were only beginning to experience London.

Professional Guide Richard Barnett leads a group of students on a tour

I joined a walk with Arizona State University students in Greenwich, where hemispheres meet and naval heritage is the main attraction, an area that has lured various interesting characters throughout its history. Once an isolated village past the outskirts of London, its significance in regards to the development of British naval power is undisputed. However, it is not only scientific research or overseas quests that have attracted so many to the area. Since the Tudor era, Greenwich has enticed royal pleasure-seekers, secret spies, and creative novelists. Richard Barnett, our guide who offered insight into the history of Greenwich, managed to captivate all of us by weaving together narratives of grand architecture, ghost stories, odd scientists, and undercover royals.

Students with an interest in law and the impact of documents such as the Magna Carta would find the area known as Temple fascinating. Hidden between Embankment and Fleet Street, Temple is known to most people through the novel and film ‘The Da Vinci Code.” People well acquainted with Temple’s history can easily debunk the myths put forward by Dan Brown! David Mildon detailed the roots of English law and politics as he guided us around Temple. Middle Temple, the hall in the heart of the area, is like a historic time capsule. It was founded by the Knights Templar and has developed into a secluded legal base, in which many famous people, including several authors of the American Declaration of Independence, received their legal training.

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Tower Hamlets

The focus of guided academic walks need not be exclusively historic.  As one of the largest cities in Europe, London’s diverse inhabitants face numerous challenges. Natalie Savona, an experienced dietician, has researched the health issues that concern Londoners, particularly those from low-income backgrounds.  Her guided walk around the borough of Tower Hamlets exposed the pressures urbanization and globalization put on the provision of healthcare in London, as well as how social and economic inequalities have had an effect on local attitudes towards public health. She touched on how gentrification across London’s poorest boroughs has had an impact on diet and choice.

Through experiencing these sites first-hand, I have been truly inspired to learn more about this vast city and its people. These guided walks have taken me beyond the traditional learning platforms of lectures, readings, and seminar discussions into a space where I have had a sensory connection to the subject matter, and, as a direct result, will remember the stories I have been told more vividly.IMAG0384

~Plamen Momchilov, Intern at  ACCENT London

A Second Chance

Upon returning from an overseas adventure, the question often comes up in conversation, “Would you do it all over again?” The question is usually answered with a resounding “YES!” The ACCENT San Francisco Center unanimously agrees that, given the chance to repeat our study abroad programs, we’d do it all again in a heartbeat. In this week’s blog post, each member of the team confesses what they’d do differently, or do again, if presented with the chance to return to the city where they studied abroad.

Ashley P. Spinelli, Program Development Manager, writes:
If I were back on my study abroad program right now, I would first eat an enormous bowl of tagliatelle al ragu from my favorite student restaurant in Bologna, Osteria dell’Orsa. After satisfying that craving, I would summon the courage to seek out more creative extracurriculars such as art, music, dance, or yoga early on in my study abroad experience.

I studied abroad on a full-immersion program in Bologna, Italy for an academic year, and although I had the academic preparation necessary for my coursework, I longed for an Italian-speaking community outside of the classroom that was not centered around my Italian roommates or American/Erasmus friends. It took me nearly a full year to work up the courage to seek out creative extracurriculars in Italian that my peers weren’t participating in.

I found I particularly missed the dance classes I had enjoyed as a student at the University of Minnesota. I spent months researching options and agonizing over whether I could think fast enough in Italian (I could), or if I would embarrass myself when I did not understand movement metaphors in another language (I would, but I’d also learn some tremendous vocabulary in the process) before I finally worked up the courage to sign up for a West African dance class. Inevitably, as the only non-native Italian speaker, I was not the star of the class. However, as a non-verbal form of communication, the dance class gave me the freedom to express myself with my Italian-speaking peers more freely. Combined with the opportunity to practice my language skills during class in a low-stress setting, this provided the perfect opportunity to make Italian friends with similar interests, stretch my vocabulary, and learn more about the the West African diaspora in Italy. Unfortunately, it was nearly the end of the program by the time I found this space. Having worked in the field, I’m now able to reflect on this experience and see the personal and academic learning opportunities that I could’ve experienced, had I pursued my interests earlier. At the time, I let my nerves get the best of me for most of the year, despite feeling desperate to expand outside of my community, do something creative, and get some exercise!Ashley2

Allison Keith, Director of U.S. Operations, says:
What would I want if I was back on my study abroad program? I need think no further. For me, the very best part of my study abroad experience was living with my homestay family in Tours, France. I have always adored children, and being able to live with a single mother and her two young girls was absolutely wonderful. I have to give credit to Melanie and Sylvie, as they were really the best teachers of French! The amazing inhibitions of the young, who will tell you exactly what you are saying wrong and then easily tell you how to say it correctly! Granted, it was French at a certain level, but it allowed me to build a foundation and also confidence in speaking. I adored my six months living with the Bertrand family and would not want to change that for the world!AKhomestay

Chelsey Little, Contract Manager/Social Media Manager, writes:
If I were lucky enough to be back on my study abroad program in Florence with Stanford University right now, I would: 1) Avoid that walkway/bridge that just collapsed due to a sink hole because it’s right by where the Stanford center in Florence is now, and is the same route I took every day to get to school from the Santa Croce neighborhood—yikes! 2) Enjoy un caffé and the scene at Le Murate / Café Letteraio, a place I did not know about when I was abroad, but would have loved to frequent. 3) Learn how to cook from my Italian host mom. This never came up as an opportunity for me when I was abroad, probably because I never thought to ask, but as an adult, I love to make all sorts of Italian dishes (linguini, paperdelle, tagliatelle, gnocchi, pizza, risotto, tutti fatto a mano!) and it would have been amazing to have picked up a few pointers from a pro. 4) Plan a trip to a nearby hot springs. I’ve only recently (in the past few years) developed a fondness for hot springs, and I might not have been quite brave enough to venture out to one when I was in college, but at this point in my life, I’ve got the bug and I want to bask in any sulfuric body of water I can find. Sounds to me like I need to make a trip back to Italy ASAP!Chelsey overlooking Florence

Tanyshia Stevens, Programs Assistant, says:
If I were back in Paris, the very first thing I would do is hunt down a döner kebab! It’s been four years since I studied abroad and I still crave them, almost daily. It’s the perfect meal—delicious slow roasted meat sandwiched between perfectly toasted bread, with a large helping of frites (or french fries, as we call them). For less than €5, it’s the perfect grab-and-go meal.

I would then take a walk through Paris and find a nice park or bench so I could sit and enjoy the sun. During my time abroad, I was always very hesitant to get out and explore by myself. Now that I have some experience traveling, if I could go back to Paris now, I’d do a lot more exploring alone.Tanyshia

Anna Tapfer, Programs Coordinator, says:
If I was back on my study abroad program, I’d be spending more time out and about in Munich, taking the train to surrounding Bavarian towns (eating tons of pretzels and döner kebab along the way), and taking advantage of low-cost flights to see other countries. I did a good amount of traveling during a generous two-and-a-half-month semester break, but would try to spend more time going to countries and cities I had never been to before, even cities within Germany.Anna[2]

Sara Assadi-Nik, Assistant Programs Coordinator, writes:
If I was back in Paris on my study abroad program, I would make more of an effort to travel outside of the city. I was so enamored with Paris itself that I only took a few short trips outside of the city. Certainly exotic locations like Morocco, Croatia, and Hungary beckon. Knowing now that the opportunities to travel to these locations only become more troublesome in post-collegiate life, I would have taken advantage of the fact that I was in close proximity to such fascinating parts of the world.

Additionally, I would make an effort to spend more time in the city’s older neighborhoods, particularly in the little-known corners of the city. Between our campus in the 16th arrondisement, my apartment in the 19th, and a close friend’s apartment in the 4th, neighborhood haunts were quickly established, favorite locales visited time and time again, and aside from a rainy adventure to the Belleville neighborhood to eat my first bowl of authentic Vietnamese Pho, I can’t remember many times I ventured into arrondisements like the 10th, 12th, 13th, and 20th. Certainly I missed much of “authentic” Paris and eschewed many stunning locales because of metro rides that were seemingly too long to bear. Of particular interest to me now would be the flea markets like Marché aux Puces de Paris/St.-Ouen and Puces de Vanves, located in neighborhoods further afield than I would have ventured at the time.

Jani McEuen, Programs Coordinator, says:
If I was back on my study abroad program, I would make more of an effort to interact with local Londoners. Almost everything I did while in London was with my fellow University of California students, or entirely on my own, and I feel that I really missed out on something valuable by not making connections with any locals. I made friends on my study abroad program…with other Californians. I experienced London culture…as a solo foreign observer. It’s not always an easy task for an introverted gal to strike up random conversations with strangers, but if I was back there now, I would try harder. And I encourage every student who is currently studying abroad to strike up those conversations; ask someone in that restaurant what they ordered, ask someone in that pub which football team they’re cheering for, ask someone in that museum what they think of that painting, ask someone in that park what they love about the city in which they live. It’s thrilling to experience a new place and to see it through your own eyes, but one of the greatest gifts that study abroad can give is the ability to see the world through someone else’s.Jani Solitary

Megan Neureuter, Associate Director of U.S. Operations, writes:
If I was back on my study abroad program, I’d like to say that I wouldn’t do anything more or less than I did before. This is the case, for the most part, until I get to language. What I’d do differently today is choose to be daring—I would use the language I was learning and try it out everywhere I went. It’s my nature to be cautious and to avoid putting myself out there more than necessary, but I realize as I have become older that there can be downsides to that; at times, breaking out of our nature is more rewarding than any other accomplishment. Today, I would walk into the Parisian stores and stumble with my rudimentary French, but use it anyway. I would try to have actual conversations with my host family, rather than simple hellos and goodbyes. I would make mistakes and probably laugh a lot—it would be hard but it would be worth it and my confidence would skyrocket—and that’s what learning a language (and even a new culture) is all about. It’s about immersing yourself and learning that, although the world is big and scary, making that small attempt at being a part of something different can be so satisfying. In the end though, my Parisian experience was extraordinary and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. Hindsight is easy and today I can see that I’m different now from who I was then; maybe I’ve become more daring or maybe I’m just able to identify my idiosyncrasies better—I’m not sure. But I do know, without a doubt, that if I was there today, I’d walk into a bakery and say, “Une baguette demi s’il vous plaît!” and savor it, relishing the fact that I’m in a city as special and wondrous as Paris.

Jessica Knittle, Contract and Administrative Assistant, writes:
Although I eagerly anticipate someday returning to the cobblestone streets of Galway’s bustling Eyre Square—to walk through the campus, past Irish storefronts, over the River Corrib, and around the beautiful green cathedral—given the chance to repeat my study abroad program, I’d first stop at the megalithic Lough Crew passage tombs. Only now do I understand what an amazing opportunity I’d been given, to have a glimpse of Ireland’s extensive history during my study abroad trip.

Many of the excursions we went on required short hikes, often ascending upward, to arrive at our destinations. The reward was always worth the effort. At the summit of the passage tombs, the giant mound of grass and small boulders provides a breathtaking view of County Meath—a fantastic spectacle of green, interrupted only by grazing sheep and miles of short stone fences. Sporadic boulders dot the clover-covered hill in random areas, marking ancient grave-sites. If I were back in Ireland, I would tattoo more scenes like this onto my memory. The Irish landscape is unlike anything else; the shades of green brighter and more awe-inspiring than any photograph.

During the autumn and spring equinoxes, light shines into the passage of the Lough Crew tomb, illuminating Neolithic symbols on the stone walls inside. Perhaps what inspires me to return is a longing to better understand the people who carved them. Did these people lay in the blanket of clovers as I did, appreciating the rare sight of a blue sky above them? What did they believe of these equinoxes, deemed significant by their alignment with the tomb’s entryway? If I had the chance to return to Ireland, I’d listen better; I’d look for more answers. After 5,000 years, the meaning of the symbols carved into the stone is still unclear…the history in the hills beckons me back.Jessica Lough Crew chair~ACCENT San Franscisco