Journeys with Juliana: London, UK

Hey everyone! My name is Juliana Chen, and I am proud to say that I am a freshman in the Global Management Program (GMP) debuting this year in Berkeley Haas.

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I’m the one holding the Berkeley sign!

When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to move to Shanghai, China, where I attended an international school for six years before moving back to my birthplace of Dayton, Ohio for high school. As a result, I spent a large portion of my adolescence traveling and interacting with people from all over the globe, an activity I fell in love with and have always wanted to continue in my college years and beyond. This is ultimately what led me to choose GMP- the rare and unique opportunity that allows freshman to immerse themselves in a foreign culture, grow and mature into responsible, independent leaders, and ultimately gain a head start in seeing the wider world. The importance of this broad perspective is essential to understanding what makes business thrive, and living in one of the major financial and creative capitals is a wonderful way to obtain exactly that.

About two years ago I discovered I also really enjoyed video-making. Conveniently, I learned that these two activities complemented each other pretty well, and I fell in love with seeing simple compilations of short clips transform into cinematic videos that documented my travels in a fun, high-energy, and meaningful way- all merely with the addition of music and some clicks on a computer. Eventually, this hobby turned into something I felt truly represented me in an authentic yet artistic manner, and my hope is for these videos to provide an intimate insight into studying abroad from my personal perspective as I dive into new adventures every day and everywhere.

With all that said, it is perhaps only fitting that the star of my first post is none other than my new home: London, England. In order to give us a warm welcome as well as some time to familiarize ourselves with our new surroundings before class officially started, the ACCENT London team made sure our schedules for the first week were jam-packed with group outings all around the city.

The Classic Double-Decker Bus

After a brief orientation meeting going over some household and classroom logistics, we stepped outside the study center on the first day and were instantly greeted with one of the capital’s most iconic features: the red double-decker. Nothing else is quite as quintessentially London (unless, of course, we’re talking about the Queen- however seeing that she was unable to personally receive us, the bus would have to do), and thus, nothing else seemed quite as fitting to kick off the week’s activities in a true, American-touristy-type fashion.

Our hilariously sarcastic and incredibly knowledgeable guide, Dave, introduced us to the major sites of London as we drove across Tower Bridge, several Harry Potter film locations, and around the Tower of London. It’s worth noting that in order to ensure your experience aboard the double-decker is first-rate, you need a first-rate tour guide – simply google “Blue Badge Guide” when planning your tour to choose a highly-trained and qualified guide who strikes your fancy. If you’re lucky enough to get anyone like Dave, he/she will personally make sure you are entertained from start to finish.

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Theaters in London

Transport yourself back to the early 1600s with a trip to the Globe Theatre. Surprisingly, witnessing Shakespeare’s creative genius come to life on stage only costs five pounds- if you’re willing to stand for 3 hours. I know it sounds like a nightmare, but I can honestly say it’s not all that bad; personally, I forgot all about any potential back pain 10 minutes into the riveting, dynamic production of Othello. Not only was the cast filled with extremely talented, A-list celebrities (helloo, André Holland from Moonlight), but so was the audience! I am in no way ashamed to admit that I fangirled pretty hard after meeting Zendaya during intermission, and although I don’t have picture proof, you’ll just have to take my word for it that Robert Pattinson was among us as well. Although I can’t guarantee you’ll meet celebrities every time you go to the Globe, I can guarantee that your experience will nonetheless be nothing short of spectacular.

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Pictures or it didn’t happen, right?

Museums: Classic & Contemporary

If you like museums, London is the place for you- and the British Museum is definitely a must-see. It houses international treasures like the Rosetta Stone (Room 4, ground floor) and the Parthenon Marbles (Room 18, ground floor), and the best part? It’s free! While all the art classics are certainly breathtaking, my favorite part of the excursion had to be afternoon tea at the museum’s very own Great Court Restaurant upstairs. Even though I am, to the death, a coffee person, I have to admit that the cream tea here was something heavenly, even more so paired with the buttery, crumbly scones. So don’t forget: pinkies up!

However, if classical art just isn’t your cup of tea (pardon the pun), the Tate Modern holds a wonderful collection of more contemporary pieces. Highlights from the masters include the Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol and the Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso, while other works range from performance based or even audience-interactive.

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Just me and some pieces of the Parthenon at the British Museum!

I would have to say that after all this, my favorite part of the week had to be seeing Othello at the Globe Theatre. Something about being so close to the stage and the actors made it all feel so much more intimate, real, and raw than a regular play. I walked out of the show that day with not only a newfound appreciation for the theatre, but for all the history and culture that it represents. Most of all, I realized how grateful I am for this opportunity to live in a city where such history, culture, art, and more are all at my fingertips. I feel so incredibly lucky for every decision I’ve made in my life that has led me to this exact moment- life right now feels a lot more like a dream than a reality.

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Unfortunately this isn’t André Holland, but I did run into Steffan Donnelly, the actor who played Roderigo- catch him in his new film Bohemian Rhapsody out in theaters October 24!

Looking Forward

I look forward to many weekends in to-be-determined countries to come, and I look forward to you all coming along with me as I take full advantage of Europe’s cramped but cheap budget airlines. I’ll be sure to share any travel tips and tricks I learn along the way, while providing the details of my itinerary and what I would or would not recommend. Thanks for following along this week, and see you next time!

Welcome to Journeys with Juliana!

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