Student Spotlight: Brooke Collins – Sherlock Aficionado

People often study abroad in a place where they can explore their interests in ways that wouldn’t be possible back at home in the States. For UCLA student Brooke Collins, who aspires to be a detective in the future, coming to London, home of the infamous Sherlock Holmes, was a no brainer! Read about Brooke’s adventures exploring the stomping grounds of Sherlock and his trusty partner Watson…

  1. Could you introduce yourself to us quickly?brooke-1-sherlock

My name is Brooke Collins and I am a proud Bruin! I study Political Science at UCLA, with an emphasis on Political Theory. Although I am passionate about politics, as I do want the world to change for the better, my real goal is to work for the government as an FBI agent. If I can become an agent I can not only utilize this knowledge of the political system which I would serve, but I can work as an investigator (essentially a detective) which is my real goal in life.

  1. What are some of the bigger differences between England and California? Did you expect these differences before coming abroad?

Apart from the cooler weather climate, I think the biggest difference in this culture is the silence expected on most public transportation. I remember flying on a British airline wondering why everyone was so quiet and then I learned during orientation that was the norm. I definitely appreciate it!

Another notable difference is some of the slang used here. I came prepared for that, but some words took a bit of time for me to get accustomed to. For example, they refer to the stove as the “hob” and “sound” translates to “cool”. They often say “cheers!” as opposed to “thank you”, which I really like and try to use myself. While Californians refer to their friends or to others casually as “dude”, people here say “mate”.

One of the best features of London especially is its extensive public transport system, colloquially called “The Tube” or the “The Underground”. While certain parts of California do have a greater amount of public transport, the Tube effectively gets you anywhere you want to be in city. It is a pretty easy system to understand and is well-organized and reliable. The tube is your ‘oyster’ and London is your pearl!

  1. Why did you choose to come and study abroad in England? What made you choose London of all places?

I have long been enamored with the London aesthetic and culture; I find the city absolutely gorgeous and have been told by many who have visited that I would fit in well there. In addition, I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and admittedly found the prospect of studying in the same place that he would have lived in and conducted his investigations if he actually existed highly enticing.

  1. And like Sherlock Holmes, I know you’re very interested in becoming a detective one day. What made you want to become a detective?

I have a strong passion for justice, possess an analytical mind and really enjoy solving puzzles. Detective work combines these three very prominent aspects of my personality into a career.

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  1. Tell me a little more about your love for Sherlock – the books, the series, the museum?

It is difficult to condense my passion for the legendary sleuth into a few sentences, but I will do my best to complete the task! Sherlock Holmes is a figure I greatly admire—not only for his genius—but for his compassion. Most do not regard him as a man of such a quality, but you find a surprising amount of it when you read the stories. He does care about upholding the law, but he knows when justice and the law deviate and he accounts for that in how he handles his cases. This is a trait that resonates strongly with me alongside the obvious intellectual prowess. I seek to emulate his approach to investigative work where he makes sure not to let his emotions or the opinions of others get in the way of his work.

This is why the Sherlock Holmes museum was the most important site I wanted to visit when I arrived in London and it certainly did not disappoint! It recreates the literary detective’s residence at 221B Bakerstreet. When you enter the museum you are immediately transported to his world—you feel as though you are part of the age in which he lived and really are convinced you are inside his home. There are really great wax figures that bring famous stories, such as my personal favorite, “A Scandal in Bohemia” to life. I was even greeted with enthusiasm by the staff when I came because of my Sherlock costume! I honestly never wanted to leave!

As for the BBC show, I think it’s incredible! I have watched the entire series multiple times and look forward to its return. It is a well-cast and well-crafted show. It cleverly inserts references to Doyle’s original text, but makes Sherlock its own. It is no easy task to deposit a Victorian era character in a modern age, but I believe this series does it perfectly. I really am impressed with the chemistry between the two leads and appreciate the fast-paced and witty dialogue. Am I “Sherlocked”? You bet I am!

  1. I understand you had the awesome luck to meet Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who actually plays Sherlock in the TV series. How did that come about and how was it?

That was honestly a stroke of luck. I just so happened to be able to attend the last day of the official Sherlocked Convention when he was scheduled to attend. I decided to treat myself as I had saved a lot of money for my trip and paid for a special picture with him on a recreation of the 221B Victorian set from the recent movie. It is surreal even to think of it; I often joked with my friends about being able to possibly just see him when I came to London, but I was actually able to meet him and take a picture with him! I dressed as I did when I first visited the official Sherlock Holmes museum in my classic Sherlock costume and he really liked that. He even gestured at me when the picture was taken! While the convention was fun, that was definitely the highlight. A literal dream come true!

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Brooke meeting Benedict Cumberbatch

  1. I know you’ve applied to be part of the Criminal Justice Society at Queen Mary once your application to extend to a full year of studying abroad goes through. Do you have any advice for students who are studying abroad and want to get involved with their host university or want to explore their interests in the city they’ve chosen to study abroad in?

My biggest piece of advice I can offer is this: do not be afraid to, as the song from Zootopia chants, “Try Everything”! This is a whole new country with a different culture and a lot of wonderful things to do. Do not be afraid to step outside your comfort zone—join any societies that peak your interest and even join some that aren’t normally, as they say here, ‘your cup of tea’. Connect with other study abroad students and organize group trips to famous tourist sites so you can both make new friends and be safe when traveling about the city. You never know how you will grow from pushing yourself to be active and involved. Even my own parents have commented on how much I have changed and how much happier I seem as a result of my time here. Expand your world!