A Lund Scholar’s Guide to London: Jess Valencia (2021-22)

Escape into a British book, make some friends, dine where Shakespeare ate cakes and ale and try Beans on Toast with Jess Valencia, a 2021 Lund Scholar who hopes her London study abroad inspires her own kids to reach for the world

1. Get lost in a local bookshop. I’ve spent much of my life with my nose in a book. Reading lets me escape to far-away places and experience life through other people’s eyes. Growing up, some of my favorite books were Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, set in Buckinghamshire, Cornwall and Wales. The sense of magic and wonder I felt reading and rereading those books was reawakened the moment we got off the bus in Bloomsbury in front of the Edwardian row houses where we’d be staying for the duration of the trip. That sense of wonder had been missing from my life for a long time.

2. I loved finding little treasures as we walked along the London streets. Pop into some of the city’s eclectic thrift stores for secondhand fashion or vintage jewelry. Or explore the antique fairs and flea markets for quirky and memorable souvenirs. I used some of the items I found in an art project when I got home.

3. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers––a highlight of my trip. I had a conversation with two moms in a museum café. We talked about single parenting, going back to school as an adult, traveling, culture and more. They were so warm and kind, and were delighted to hear that I had won a scholarship to take the trip. Another day, I was in an Oxfam bookshop and had a lovely conversation with a woman who was working there about everything from racism to travel to neurodivergence. I loved connecting with people this way.

4. I was also able to meet up with an online friend I’ve known for years. Being able to meet her and her children in person, then spend time with them at the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Rooms exhibit at the Tate Modern, was amazing. Visiting their home on the outskirts of London was a perfect view into an ordinary day in their lives––we had English baked beans on toast!

5. Take your new books and find a historic pub where literary greats once ate (and tossed back a few). Feast in the footsteps of legendary novelists, poets and playwrights like Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and even Shakespeare. If you plan to pub-crawl in the manner of Charles Dickens, take the Tube or a cab. It seems he was a bit of a bookworm and barfly.

Jess Valencia is completing her bachelor’s degree in art at Fresno State. She says that she applied for the Lund Scholarship in part because she hoped it would make a great lesson for her kids: “I wanted them to see what an amazing opportunity traveling to another country can be so that they won’t miss the opportunities I missed out on. If they can feel my excitement and experience the trip through my eyes, I think it will inspire them to seek out similar adventures on their own someday.”

Photo of 2022 Lund Scholar Tony Xiong

A Lund Scholar’s Guide to London: Jess Valencia (2021-22)

by | Mar 30, 2024 | Forever Lund Scholars

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