Monday, 18 March 2019

Anxiety Abroad

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By Drew Chittick

Even when it goes right, travelling can be stressful. 

So many moving pieces and interlocking plans that, even if you’ve gone through and organised it well in advance, it can be difficult to keep track of.

But it tends to go wrong at least once a trip. Of course, they’re measures you can take, giving yourself plenty of time between legs of the journey, having back-up plans, not going alone, and carrying more cash than you think you need are all helpful. But some problems are out of your control. Flight or train delays are the most common. But losing touch with your group (if you have one) or getting lost (especially if you don’t speak the language) can be incredibly stressful, especially if you haven’t planned. So how to handle them?

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Generally, a good first step is to panic. Not for long, but it’s good to be angry and let some of the stress off. Better to spend a few minutes stomping around than be trying to solve your problems angry.

Next, priorities. I find it helpful to break the stress into actionable chunks, rather than just the general overwhelming feeling. And crucially, the fewer chunks, the better. For example, if you’re worried that you’ll miss a flight or train, a taxi is usually better than a bus. It’s more expensive, but it’s also easier, and you’re less likely to make a mistake in the rush.

And while it depends somewhat on the problem, finding help, especially for directions, can be crucial. I get lost constantly, and when I don’t have access to wifi or if my map is kind of confusing, asking for help from random store clerks is about the only reason I make it to my hostel at night or to the concert I bought tickets for. If you don’t speak the language, it can be a pain, but I’ve gotten far on patience and Google translate alone.

There’s a lot to be anxious over when you’re abroad, even completely aside from things that cause anxiety back at the manor. Preparation is far better than improvisation, but you can make it through a lot of disasters by focusing on what you can do, and how simply you can do it.



Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Chester


By: Paul Bone

We were on our way to ruins, 
more sunken stones,
with an hour or less before
the bus would take us

into Wales, where sometimes
we would not know the words,
or search the harder for them,
such as hastening to relics.

So down the narrow sidewalk
we strode long-legged.
Too busy in the head naming
this feeling, I did not see

the man until he’d passed,
his falling no more a sound
a coat upon a stick 
might make, a hand-sized mailer

flung out in front and what 
he gathered to him before
he tried to rise. Stay here,
on your knees, I said.

Let’s see if you’re all right
(with dignity, if you can,
I wanted to add, just one more
feeling impossible to tell).

The blood from his hooked nose
poured in a bright runnel,
such garish display given 
his grey overcoat, 

almost suedish skin, the downy note
of his “Oh dear.” The nurse
who happened on us
brushed his white hair back.

We let our tissues darken
and drop like sickly fruits
as the bleeding slowed,
then led him to the bench

where, in that busy square,
a Welsh busker sang Dylan
and this man, Alan, waited 
among strangers, more strangers

coming with the ambulance
which, rushing properly,
arrived and parted the crowd
with whoops and lime-green authority.

We let him go, our charge,
and he allowed himself
again to be ushered,
black uniform to each arm.

How could it be, I thought,
the envelope just fitting
his coat pocket, manila stripe
just showing, the splatter concealed?

Surely he held the word
for that day, whether to read
or pass it on elsewhere
none of us could really say


----------------------------------------------------------
Paul Bone
Harlaxton Visiting Faculty Spring 2019
Associate Professor University of Evansville
pb28@evansville.edu



Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Must Have Travel Apps


By: Lauren Ward



Although technology can have its drawbacks it has made traveling a smoother experience in many aspects. From electronic boarding passes to live weather updates from around the world no one can deny technology has its benefits for trotting around the globe. I have compiled a list of a few applications (aside from your run of the mill flight and weather apps) to help any Harlaxton student or traveler make their time away from home faster, cheaper, and easier.

Skyscanner:
This is a mobile application as well as an online website that searches for the cheapest tickets for your desired destination. You enter in the dates that you want to fly out and return. You also input what airport you wish to use. Luckily for us Harlaxton students you can tell it to search every airport in the London area! It also conveniently gives the option for multi city travel. An example of this would be flying from London into Rome but flying back to London from Florence. It takes in all your desired specifications and generates a list of flights for you to choose from. Often it will tell you to book from two different airlines to save even more money for your travels. However, my personal favorite setting on this app is the ‘Everywhere option’ which means it will tell you the cheapest place to fly to on the days you want to go. This can be helpful when you’re stumped on where to travel to next or if you’re torn between a few locations!

Google Translate:
This application can be a extremely useful tool to use when traveling to foreign countries. They have a mobile application that can be downloaded onto your phone that has many useful functions. For example you can save a language to use offline so when you are suck in a city with no wifi or data you can still communicate with the locals. By far the most impressive feature is the camera function. You can open up your camera, align any text in a foreign language, and it automatically translates it on the spot. This can save lots of time when looking at menus, train time tables, or signs around a city.

Currency exchange app: 
When studying abroad and booking trips with different people, to different countries, with different currencies every weekend it can get pretty stressful. Money definitely gets moved around quite a bit. And with fluctuating currency exchange rates you want to make sure that you are always paying and getting paid the correct amount. I would highly recommend downloading a currency exchange app, although google can work perfectly well too. It can be really convenient to be able to open the app and search for your destination quickly.

HappyCow:
If you are vegan or vegetarian this app will make traveling so much easier for you! You put in your location and it lists nearby restaurant options with reviews by fellow vegans or vegetarians. You can then filter your search for strictly vegan restaurants, bakeries, farmers markets, or grocery stores. No longer will you be worrying about doing extra research or settling for a restaurant that doesn’t work for you.

Hostel World:
This website is great for finding the perfect hostel. This website compiles reviews from past guests and ranks hostels based overall value. You can select your location, a price range, and what amenities you want. It then generates a list and you can pick the hostel that best fits what you are looking for. This is definitely a helpful and reliable website when you are traveling and trying to save some money.

Tube Map: 
If you are attending Harlaxton College chances are that you will be spending quite a bit of time in London. And the fastest, cheapest, and (sometimes) easiest way to get around is by taking the infamous London Underground. If you download the Tube Map app you can GPS yourself from you current location to wherever in the city you want to go. Tube Map then will give you the cheapest and most efficient way to get there with step-by-step instructions of what lines to get on. This can save you valuable time on a short weekend when you want to see a lot of different places around the city. (Apple/Android)

I hope these apps will help in all of your future travels while at Harlaxton or wherever else you may travel to!

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Having a Home at Harlaxton

By: Krysta Wininger


You’ve just finished your first long weekend at Harlaxton. You’ve probably gotten back from a special place that you saved specifically for the long weekend – that extra day does, after all, make a large difference. But still, it seems as though you’ve returned all too soon, and the place you visited that was so near and dear to your heart feels left in the dust. It certainly doesn’t help that you’ve had to come back to where the weather is almost certainly colder and wetter.

But nonetheless, here you are, roaming the halls of Harlaxton once more, and you may be feeling as though Harlaxton is just an in-between place that you stay at while you visit all the places you’ve dreamt about since you were little.

Or maybe you’re on the other end of things. Maybe you don’t have extravagant travel plans or don’t have certain places tugging on the strings of your heart beckoning you.

Whatever the case is, we all might be getting to a point in the semester where the walls of Harlaxton feel like a belt you might be starting to outgrow… just a little too tight.

Until the end of the semester, Harlaxton is your home - even if that home feels a little too small at times - and it’s important that we all take the time to appreciate exactly what that means. Living at Harlaxton means scheduled meals, scheduled activities, scheduled times to leave, and scheduled times to return, but having a home at Harlaxton… well, that’s all about what you choose to do with time that isn’t booked.

Sometimes a new home isn’t about the things you take with you; it’s about the things you leave behind that make the place a part of you. Take a walk on the grounds of the manor and watch how your shoes leave molds on the hills – can you feel yourself leaving your mark? Walk up the stairs that thousands of students before you have also walked up, and revel in the fact that while their time has passed, your time is still right here, right now. This manor belongs to you.

When you leave here, a piece of you is inevitably going to stay here with Harlaxton – make sure it’s a piece of you that you want Harlaxton to keep. Hold on to this time here at the manor for as long as you can because before you know it, your time will be up like all those before you, and you’ll be asking yourself, “Did I do everything that I could to have the best experience I could? Did I make an impact? Did Harlaxton impact me? Did I use my time to make it all that it could be?”


Ask yourself those questions now with everything that you do at Harlaxton. Don’t reflect on how you made this your home after you’ve left – reflect on it every single day that you’re here. The semester may be a third of the way done, but you’ve still got over half of your time here. Make sure you’re making it a home you’ll keep with you forever. You’ll keep Harlaxton with you forever – make sure it keeps a piece of you, too.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Writing About Your Travel

By: Drew Chittick

Travel writing probably doesn’t strike everyone as relevant to their semester abroad.


Some people don’t keep blogs, and the ones that do probably feel like they have a good handle on it, and they may.

But you’ll write about your trips more often than you think. Some of you might keep a journal, most will probably post pictures on Instagram or Facebook, and almost everyone will have a family or friend from home text them and ask how and where they’ve been. So, think of this less as advice on maintaining a long-form travel blog, or how to attract readers, than just as advice on how to show people what you’ve been doing abroad, and give them answers that might actually satisfy their curiosity.

The most fundamental habit you can have is just a slight shift in thinking: write about how you felt, not what you saw. Not just something vague like how you were “blown away” or “just can’t believe it,” really think about how what you saw affected you. If somebody is asking what’s been going on in your life, then they care just as much about you as the goings-on.

With that comes a little shift in how you travel: think about how you’re feeling. Even if you never write a word about your trip, just stopping to notice how this has all impacted you will make your trips feel so much more fulfilling. Your memories of what this village looked like or how that baguette tasted will never last as long as the joy of something adorable but ancient, or the satisfaction of a peek into someone else’s craft.

This last one has a little less to do with you and a little more to do with the person reading what you wrote, but it’s no less helpful: consider how the trip changed you. How were you different from when you left the manor on Thursday to when you got back on Sunday (or Monday)? The change doesn’t have to be drastic, but it shows the person reading what they really want to know: why does this matter to you? Maybe you were just having a down week and Paris cheered you up, or you were pumped on the shuttle to Grantham, but just barely staggered into your room Sunday night. Because if you didn’t allow the trip to make any impression on you, what was the point in going?

I hope this is helpful. Not even just for writing, but just for your travels in general as the semester chugs along. We’re almost a third of the way through. That may sound depressing, but remember: whatever you’ve done so far, you’ve still got time to double it. So, go out, and feel as much as you can as you travel the world.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Home

By: Dallas Carter 
 
“Aren’t you excited to go home?” 
“One more day until we head home!”  
“I can wait to go home.” 
Home. The word has been ringing in my ears for the entire semester, but like a buzzing fly that won’t go away it seems to have gotten louder and more annoying in recent days. I’ve swatted at it, lunged for it and attempted to smash it under my foot. I’ve scooped its struggling body off the floor with a tissue and carried it towards the trash can like a pallbearer at a stranger’s funeral.  
People attach the word home to towns and familiar foods and happy memories, but to me home has always been wherever I am at a certain moment. Home was my hand-painted bedroom in the basement of my parent’s house and then my crowded dorm room on the third floor of Moore Residence Hall. Home was my white Chevrolet Trailblazer full of field hockey gear and old CDs. Home was a quiet motel right off of the sandy beaches in Englewood, Florida.  
At the beginning of the semester, I was asked how I felt about leaving home and I honestly didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay in my mom’s house with my little brother and my cats and my record player and my two pillows. Now I am told I have to go back home, but home has moved. Home is Harlaxton Manor, Refectory food, complaining about the rain, overflowing shuttles, pizza calls in the telephone booth, and so much more.  
Home is my friends’ faces when we meet in the customs line, fresh off the plane. Home is the maze of ruin pubs in Budapest and somewhat sketchy hostels on the outskirts of Paris. Home is taking a train across the UK, trying Gelato in five different countries and making a British family your own.  
While I have found a home in all of these places and little moments, the most important home I found was inside myself. Throughout my time at Harlaxton, I didn’t feel any huge changes, but upon reflection, I’ve noticed the many ways I’ve grown and developed. I have more confidence in myself and in my abilities to lead and to survive in the world. I no longer wallow in bad moments or feelings, but instead pick myself up and move on.
I feel better about who I am as a person and I feel as if I’m finally gaining some direction in my life. I am now at home in my own skin. I’ve embraced my tears as well as my smiles, my bad hair days with my good, and my sweatpants with my formal skirts.  
I am at home in myself for the first time in my life. While being abroad for the semester cemented this feeling together, it was the pieces from all my previous homes that made up the person I am now and the home I have created for myself.  
I’ve changed directions and now carry the word “home” to the window. It writhes momentarily, but manages to flutter off the tissue and towards the manicured hedges of Harlaxton’s back garden. Tomorrow I will leave the manor for the last time. As its looming grandeur fades into the distant English countryside, I will think of home, how I will continue to build it up inside myself everywhere I go, and how Harlaxton helped make me, me.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Just Do It


By: Dallas Carter
 
Just. Do. It. Three simple words which on their own don’t mean much, but together can be inspirational or meme-worthy. From Nike’s famous logo to Shia LaBeouf's hilarious and viral inspirational speaking video, the phrase “just do it,” is quite well-known. But what does it mean exactly?

In Harlaxton I find myself using the phrase often. Sometimes out loud to my friends when I say “Let’s just do it,” in regards to booking a trip or exploring something interesting in a new city. Other times I repeat it to myself. When I’m feeling anxious or stressful about a situation or maybe lazy about doing homework. “Just do it” can act as a strong motivator.

I often get stuck in my head–especially at Harlaxton–because I’ve had to partake in more thinking and planning logistics than ever before. It can quickly become overwhelming and hard to pull the trigger on plans, bookings, or even studying instead of going down to The Bistro (most often vice versa).

What I’ve discovered is you have to take a deep breath and just do it! I’ve said “yes” to attending a spontaneous concert in Nottingham on a Tuesday evening, entering a slightly off-putting alleyway in Budapest for shopping and even ending up covered in snow from head to toe while attempting to sled down the gardens with my winter jacket. None of these events are record-breaking or necessarily “wild,” but they are small experiences that are defining my time here at Harlaxton. Had I not just done it, just said yes and opened myself up to something new, I would not have had the same experiences abroad and I would not end up learning the lessons about myself and the world.
 
So while you should be cautious and follow your budget, you should also just do it! Step out of your comfort zone! Don’t be afraid of straying off the beaten path! Say yes to an unplanned event and in doing so you will make unforgettable memories that lead to a completely unique Harlaxton experience.