Life Lessons in London
Written by Engel Yue.
What’s up, Haas!! My name is Engelberta Yue, but feel free to just call me Engel. A quick snapshot of who I am would reveal that I am a bookworm, pop culture geek, lover of sports, and a self-pronounced ice cream connoisseur. I also have a strong passion for graphic design, ESK8 culture, fashion, and social justice.
I’m a freshman at UC Berkeley and a member of the inaugural class in Haas’ Global Management Program. With my cohort, I’ll be working towards a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Global Management, and a part of the process includes being among the first in the Class of 2022 to start college (summer sessions), as well as being among a smaller fraction of students in general who have the chance to study abroad.
So, here I am, three and a half months into college, writing in the heart of London. But, my story doesn’t start here. My college story began on March 29, 2018 – the day I was accepted into Haas and likewise, UC Berkeley.
My story is simultaneously unique yet also commonplace in that I know that I’m not the only person who has ended up somewhere totally unexpected. I, myself, never thought I would attend Cal.
If I was completely honest with myself, Decision Day was one of the worst days of my life. You don’t realize how difficult it is to choose between a dream school and a dream program, especially since it’s not an easy conversation to have with your peers. I knew that I was blessed with this opportunity, given the fact that I had a choice in the first place, but it really wasn’t a decision I wanted to make, and I struggled with choosing up until the last minute. Even to this day, I constantly found myself wrestling with whether or not I made the right choice.
During summer sessions at Cal, it was easy to ignore the uncertainty nagging in the back of my mind because I went home every weekend to see my family and spend time with friends. But, now that we’re here in London, it’s not as simple as getting on the BerkBus and taking an hour ride home. In fact, I’ve come to realize that there is no comfortable outlet when you study abroad, but that’s one of the reasons why we should study abroad.
My first week was hard in that I’ve always had the support of my family and community, so without either during my time abroad, I felt like a lost sheep amongst the crowd. Whenever I experienced something I didn’t particularly appreciate, I would complain internally and think of how things could have been different. If I chose differently… I would still be enjoying summer right now. If I chose differently… I would have been able to attend this party, that camp, if I chose differently, I would…so on and so forth.
But everything changed when I went to Milan.
It took getting out of London for me to understand just how in love I am with the city. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast in Milan, but it was the act of going out, eyes wide open, and with an independence that I’ve never felt before that made me realize this was why I chose Haas and UC Berkeley and study abroad, to be challenged in every aspect of the word, to grow in my own identity and person, and to truly see our world in order to better shape it one day in the future.
You see, the problem wasn’t really ever about which school I wanted to go to, and as much as I hate to admit it, it wasn’t really about deciding between the programs either. I knew, in regards to what I wanted in the future, what was the best choice for me. The problem with having to make the decision was that I was scared. I had always talked about traveling, having “big dreams”, and had lived up to the expectations placed before me, but the thing was that I never did it alone. Coming from such wholesome support, having found my bearings within my school and community, to venturing across the globe, the idea of essentially starting over as one out of thirty three other amazing minds and personalities was daunting.
The “easier” choice of going to the other school for the sake of the school itself was incredibly tempting, but I knew, deep down, that I am not someone who can ever be satisfied with unfulfilled dreams – I never was that person. I want to travel and I want to do business, and it’s taken me up until now to have finally and fully come to terms with it. Once I truly accepted the fact that I chose to be here and I understood just how illogical it would be to go back to whatever fragments of the past I was grasping at, I started thinking less about my if’s and began doing the things I always dreamed of doing.
In the following month, I went to everything and anything that that caught my attention. From the red carpet premiere of A Simple Favor (Blake Lively is a gem!) to catching a glimpse of London Fashion Week, meeting Stan Smith at the Shoreditch Adidas store to basking atop the Milan Duomo, and spending hours in the ethereal Blue Lagoon of Iceland to attending the incredible BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, I did it all. Looking back, what a waste that first week was, of sitting in my flat, watching episode after episode of Suits (great show, by the way!). There’s simply so many other productive once-in-a-lifetime things to do!
By pondering in the past, I had closed so many doors in that first week I was abroad – I didn’t even try to find things that I actually liked in London or go to things I know I would have wanted to do. I love the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, and the experience of it all. I’m not going to lie, those what if’s do come back, but I doubt you could get me to change mind even if I had the choice.
Hopefully, I don’t forget this lesson when I return to the States. Once I’m back at Cal, I want to be able to make the most out of my opportunities and continue to move towards the things that matter most to me. But for now, I’ll take this adventure for what it is and we’ll see how far we go.
Cheers to you, Haas!