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.

HIsitt

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.
SB

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!

KPaju

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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 http://www.scandiway.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Cooper_wolf_meatballs.jpgor 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.http://www.chatsworthroade5.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/homeslider_02.jpg

~Tim Marsh, ACCENT London

Did this post inspire you to study abroad? Use the ACCENT Program Finder to discover your next great adventure: http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/.

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.

Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk

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

The Business of News

A few weeks ago, Dr. Lisette Johnston, a senior broadcast journalist and producer for BBC World News, gave a fascinating lecture at the ACCENT London Study Center to students from the Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School.

The talk focused on the BBC as a global business and the challenges the organization faces as a publicly funded broadcaster operating in a highly competitive sector crowded with private, profit-driven companies. She argued that despite challenges from competitors and the threats the BBC faces to its funding structure (the BBC’s budget will be cut substantially as part of the government’s latest review of its charter), the organization is leading the sector in its breadth of journalism and in the reliability of its content and coverage.

Dr. Johnston went on to speak about the BBC’s response to changing consumer patterns and habits in the face of the digital revolution. The Internet, she argued, and smartphones in particular, have revolutionized how, when, and where we get our news, and have even driven major changes in the production of content. Because content can be gathered in real time by anybody with a smartphone, journalism has been democratized and has changed for the better; the digital revolution has created a process of reciprocity whereby content is recorded or created by the consumer, then picked up and disseminated through traditional platforms such as BBC News.

The BBC’s challenge throughout this shift has been updating the style and format of their product so that it aligns with digital trends without the BBC losing their reputation for quality or reliability. For instance, how do you turn a five-minute news item into a 30-second Snapchat story while still retaining the quality and comprehensiveness of the original item?

Even with these changes in the digital world, she concluded, people have always trusted the BBC to keep them reliably informed and will continue to rely on the organization for their daily shot of news.

The students thoroughly enjoyed the guest lecture and greatly appreciated the speaker’s time. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Johnston back for future lectures at the ACCENT London Study Center.

Lisette Johnston~Harry Isitt, ACCENT London

Lisette Johnston is a senior broadcast journalist with BBC World News. She has worked as a journalist for 13 years across print, TV, and online (social and mobile), and has spent the past six years with the BBC. She recently completed her PhD in journalism at City University London, having been awarded one of two scholarships in 2012. Her thesis investigated the use of user-generated content by the BBC in their coverage of the conflict in Syria, and how this has affected journalistic practices. Her research has been published in academic journals and in the mainstream media. You can find her on Twitter: @lisettejohnston.

 

A Glimpse of the V&A

Sherri Gardner is a student blogger for the Washington University in St. Louis College of Arts & Sciences and is currently studying abroad on a direct enroll program with King’s College London and ACCENT. Her posts and those of her peers can be read here: https://pages.wustl.edu/unofficialartscifieldguide/blog-archive

I am a huge fan of museums. When I was growing up in Chicago, my parents took my brother and me to various museums almost every week. We would spend the entire day looking at the exhibits and absorbing as much information as possible. Fast-forward a decade and I still enjoy spending hours ambling around museums, taking in everything they have to offer.

When I arrived in London, I was delighted to learn that a fair number of the city’s many museums are free to visit. I made an early vow to visit all of them. I had no idea that London is home to more than 200 museums, though, most of which actually require an entry fee. My goal has since been modified: I just want to visit as many museums as possible before I fly back to the United States. As of right now, I’m doing terribly. In my first seven weeks in London, I’d only been to two museums: the Tate Modern and the British Museum (for a very brief visit). To step up my museum game, I’ve decided to try and visit a new one each week.

Version 2

This week I hopped on the Tube and went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s the world’s oldest museum of decorative art and design, home to a collection of over 4.5 million objects. There are two huge rooms filled to the brim with ceramic items from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and a rotunda of mannequins documenting the evolution of four centuries of British fashion. You can travel back to the Renaissance by standing on a balcony that juts out into a brightly lit room of incredibly old statues and fountains.

DSC_0651

I was in the V&A for approximately two hours and I visited five rooms: Ironwork, the Cast Courts, Medieval & Renaissance, the Asia section, Fashion, and of course, the gift shop. My favorite was the Cast Courts, although half of it was walled off for restoration. The room was filled with plaster casts of entryways, pillars, balconies, and exterior decorations. It felt like being thrown back in time to when the world was a different place. Everything was rendered in remarkable detail and all I wanted to do was run my hand across the etchings. (Note: I did not, in fact, touch anything in the museum, though it was tempting for a moment.)

DSC_0638

There were people everywhere sketching the wares of the V&A. Some were art students decked out with huge sketchpads and easels. A couple of people were drawing in smaller notebooks, and some children had sheets of printer paper that they carried with them as they walked around the collection rooms. If I were a mildly talented artist, I too would have copied down the things that I saw, but I’ll just have to hope that I can remember what I didn’t photograph. Or I might just have to make a return visit to see the rest of the enormous Victoria and Albert Collection!

~Sherri Gardner, Washington University in St. Louis

“An Incredibly Refreshing Break”

In September 2015, UC Berkeley Global Edge first-year students visited the Caravanserai project in Canning Town, East London as part of their writing class. The Canning Town Caravanserai is architect Ash Sakula’s innovative concept for a 21st century urban community space. It provides a place for educational and cultural events for the local community and for urban agriculture. It is also a venue for experimental, economically sustainable trading. The visit was featured in the eighth issue of Insights, the ACCENT newsletter, and a student reflection from the UC Berkeley program was featured on the ACCENT Blog.

After the visit, student reflection essays were featured on the organization’s blog. Below is a piece by Berkeley Global Edge student Stuart Jennings.

On Thursday, September 24th, 2015, I visited Caravanserai with my college writing class. As always, I plugged in my headphones, got on the Tube, and tried to tune out the business of a typical Thursday morning. In traditional London fashion, it was a cloudy morning, although the sun broke through as the afternoon wore on. Before entering Caravanserai, we scouted the local area noting the differences between Canning Town and the neighborhood where we lived. Canning Town seemed empty compared to the heavy tourism and bustling business environment we experienced daily, and at the Caravanserai we found a small, seemingly uninhabited area, where shrubs and grass had taken over, a non-existent sight in central London. It seemed impossible to truly escape the London hustle however, with cranes dotting the skyline in the near distance and the constant hum of construction nearby. Some things are omnipresent in this city. In fact, wherever I am in London, it seems impossible to escape the reality of growth and gentrification.

Stepping through the painted gate of Caravanserai, something did indeed feel different though. With gardens, sand, a children’s play area, and the air fragrant with the smell of late summer flowers, the towering cranes were put out of my mind. Once inside, the program director, Che, taught us about the functions of the various structures of the site, which were both community-oriented, and environmentally friendly. Each structure is built with recycled materials and no outside energy is consumed. It was reminiscent of my home in California, where similar self-sustaining and ecologically-minded groups attempt to benefit their local communities. Although the scale of the project is rather small, every part of the place is designed with the community in mind. From the local events and plays, to the available allotment and gardening space, to the constant recycling and reusing of available materials, the project is truly inspiring.

After learning about the project, we were served tea and cake by the volunteers, who were kind-hearted and welcoming. Their enthusiasm displayed the purpose of the project. The site is called Caravanserai and is meant to emulate the “oasis-like meeting and trading post” which existed in the deserts of the Middle East. These were trading posts and resting places, where travellers could enjoy entertainment, trade goods, and possibly make business partners. As Che talked, it became evident that the various economically sustainable functions of Caravanserai ensure that the sight lives up to its name.

Once our time was over, I walked across the street to the bustling Tube station and plugged my headphones in again, back to the real world. I watched people get on and off the cramped train, hurrying to work in their tailored suits. Emerging from the Tube at my usual stop, the hundreds of tourists racing around and taking pictures, became my reality once more. It was not until I got to my flat, took off my backpack and jacket, unplugged my headphones, and sat down that I reflected upon Caravanserai. It was an incredibly refreshing break from the typical hustle and bustle of the busy London streets. Although I was only there for two hours, the project really impacted me. It would be wonderful to see more community projects like Caravanserai in London.

~Stuart Jennings

No Regrets: A Student’s Tale of the UC Berkeley Global Edge Fall Semester in London

Alice in London!April You is a UC Berkeley freshman with a different point of view. Despite successfully completing her inaugural college semester, she hasn’t yet taken a class at Cal and she is yet to join her classmates in whiling away her afternoons on Berkeley’s memorial glade soaking up the famous California rays. Instead, April opted to study abroad in London as part of the inaugural UC Berkeley Global Edge program. In London, she spent her first semester navigating a new cultural environment, as well as negotiating the intimidating hustle and bustle of this mega-city. As you’ll see, she and her fellow Global Edge classmates have blazed a trail for future Berkeley students to do the same.

In this week’s Student Feature, April recounts her experience and offers some sound advice for Berkeley freshmen looking to spend a semester abroad.

I wasn’t sure how to begin this blog post. Not to be cliché, but how can you sum up an entire semester in one post? And it wasn’t just any semester abroad either; it was my first semester in college. But I guess honesty is the best way to go, and to be honest, initially, I wasn’t so sure about this program. I knew I was going to miss a lot of opportunities by not spending the fall semester of my freshman year on my home campus. I’d miss the homecoming football game against Stanford and the clubs during club rush, but then again, there was London. I’d always wanted to go abroad to Europe, and right on the doorsteps of my very first year was the opportunity to do so. Was I ever going to get the chance again? Probably not like this.

It turns out I was right. London was – is – an incredible place, and being there on a time crunch pushed me to go out and really immerse myself in the city and explore. Exploration in London was accessible too. In the desert suburbs of Southern California where I come from, there isn’t much in the way of public transportation, and I can’t do much without a car there. In London, I didn’t need a car; the Tube was all I needed to get out and wander around the city. In fact, I’ve been on the Tube so many times that I’ve memorized the automated voices and scripts of the main stations. Besides its convenience, the best thing about it was that I got to see all sorts of people who lived in, or were visiting, London. Just recently, I saw a bunch of people dressed in elf costumes caroling. Another time I saw a professor who was madly grading papers on the Tube and it made me giggle to think that that could have been one of my own professors. There is also a certain sort of pride, I think, us foreigners feel when we get the Tube system down pat.Carolers on the Tube

I think one of my favorite things about London, besides its beautifully crisp weather (and no, that is not sarcasm!), is that the city molds to your individual persona. There is something for everyone here. Are you someone who loves quirky museums? Not only are most museums free, but there is a HUGE variety of them, including a museum of dismembered preserved body parts! Do you think you’ll miss the ocean? Well, the Thames comes pretty darn close. When the tide is low, you can walk along its sandy banks, and there are even seagulls! There was never a moment in London when I was bored.

Of course, then there are the classes. This is what everyone really wants to know about. “Were they hard? Was there a lot of homework? How did you manage to juggle it all?” There is no magical formula for how one juggles exploring and studying. Some people have great time management skills, others (ahem) do not. You have to really prioritize what you think is important, and sometimes, it’s not studying. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned abroad: in the end, you have to decide what means the most to you and go with it.

Yes, I am being a teensy bit overdramatic here. The classes I took in London gave me tons of “excuses” to go out and really see London in all its different colors. Take my English class, for example. For one of my papers, I ventured out to a graffiti tunnel, and for another I went to a market in a gentrified part of town. These places were not picked for me by the professor, but places I sought out myself because I was inspired by the assignment. Even if I had been inspired enough to seek them out on my own time, I would not have been able to learn about these places in such depth had the experience not been supplemented in class. Take my theater class as another example; I was able to watch so many awesome plays, which I wouldn’t have had the chance to watch if I had not been in that class. I could go on and on. These classes enabled to me to explore London through a new lens and gave such incredible meaning and depth to my time there.

Leake Street Graffiti TunnelThe cherry on top was my Global Edge and ACCENT families. We had been together since the summer and being together in the fall as flat mates made us even closer. The memories I’ve made with my flat mates and the other Global Edge participants are something I will cherish forever.

However, for the sake of future Global Edge participants, I will be honest: living in a flat with three, four, or five other people, even people you’ve been with for a few months, can and will be difficult at times. Despite the challenges you’ll face, you will manage to survive, and you’ll find that in the end, you’ll become closer with your flat mates than you were before. The experience will help you grow.

This whole “growing” business isn’t something that comes from just living with other people. No, it also has to do with the fact that you are living on your own for the first time, and in another country to boot. You will become more independent and you will learn more than you ever learned in your entire life. You won’t be the same person you were six months ago. That is the beauty of a study abroad program, especially one during your freshman year. What better time to grow than at the beginning of your college career? The even more beautiful part is that you won’t be in it alone. There are so many people to help you out when you need it, like the people at ACCENT, and there are also your fellow Global Edge participants.

I’ve asked several of my fellow Global Edge friends whether, if they had the choice, they would do this whole program all over again? The answers vary, but the one thing everyone is unanimous on is that they have no regrets. As for me? Well, if you’ve read this post though to the end, I think it should be pretty clear: I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world…and trust me, I’ve been all over!

Cheers,
April

April hails from Fontana, California and is planning to major in Classics with a minor in Education. In the future, April wants to work with children.

~Harry Isitt – ACCENT London

London Likes…!

SDennisWhat would Senior Programs Coordinator Sara Dennis do with a free hour in London? Find out in this week’s “Live Like A Local” post!

As a local with an extra free hour in London, there are quite a few places I could while away some time…

Liberty

My first choice would be to go to the department store, Liberty (Gt. Marlborough Street, off Regent Street). It’s just a beautiful shop that is a delight to wander through, whether you are looking to buy something, or no. If you are planning to shop, it’s a very good place to find souvenirs and presents for your friends and family. The shop was established in 1875, but the main mock-Tudor building was built in 1924 and remains an icon among London stores. It was built using timber from two ships, in the half-timbered style of the Elizabethan age. I imagine many overseas visitors think it is a much older building.

National GalleryMy second choice would be to go to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. What can I say? It has possibly the world’s finest collection of (mainly old) masters, and it’s free! You can walk in and spend an hour in front of one painting, or 100.

Foundling-MuseumMy final choice would be the Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square. This is on the site of Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital, set up in 1740 as a home for London’s unwanted babies and children. It became one of the first charities, supported by Handel and Hogarth, among many others. It was an extremely fashionable venue, visited by the great and the wealthy. Now, as a museum, the exhibits there range from many fine paintings by English masters such as Gainsborough and Reynolds, to the pitiful “treasures” that were left by the children’s mothers as mementos of their families.

~Sara Dennis, ACCENT London