Monday, 23 April 2018


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.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Beast From the East

By: Bryson Keltner, current Harlaxton College Media Intern

“People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time.” -The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe 

Last week, a rare snowstorm from Russia jetted southwest. “The Beast from the East,” as it was called, left countries in Western Europe in an unfamiliar state: frozen.

The canals in Amsterdam became mazes for ice skaters. Rome was a different planet—its ancient ruins creeping out from a white slush. London stood still, yet somehow, it was also chaos.
And then there was the much smaller scale—a manor house full of Americans that stood just outside a town in Lincolnshire.

For locals who know nothing of snow, The Beast was a foreigner who crept up on them and did its worst. Driving cars—for them—was like driving for the first time.

For the students at Harlaxton, The Beast was a parent telling them they couldn’t go out. I watched as every mode of transportation slowly lost its breath, taking the students’ weekend travel plans down with them. Some students managed to get out before every plane, train, and car to London halted, but for most Harlaxton students, the money, time, and energy they put into their trips disintegrated. They were “stuck” in our castle for the weekend.

But for me, The Beast brought me to a place where beauty is an injustice. I was on duty for the weekend, so I didn’t plan on leaving the manor even before the snow. I let myself feel the magic around me. The manor became some sort of a movie set or a poem’s title. The place I get to call home for a while somehow became even more breathtaking. I was in Narnia.

You’ve seen The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. You recall the world that stood frozen in the most aesthetically-pleasing way imaginable. That was Harlaxton Manor for an entire week. Every day, the snow would start to melt, but every night, new powder would fall, leaving my home pristine every morning.



I stood speechless marveling at the building’s presence draped in white. It was art.

But I had a job to do in Narnia. After all, I was on duty. I was in charge if things went wrong, and for most Harlaxton students, their weekends started off very wrong. So I sprang into action.

I went to my computer and made a quick graphic—an itinerary. In it, I planned a weekend full of fun—the kind of fun you’d have if you were a kid at home from school on a snow day. I planned movie-viewing parties. Board game events. A hide-and-seek tournament. Coloring page meet-ups. And a necessary old-fashioned snowball fight.

I built it, and they came. They loved it, and I loved it. I watched as they became children again, and as they played their games and watched their movies, they began to appreciate the chilly beauty outside too. For a weekend, we were not world-traveling adults with responsibilities and cancelled plans. We were kids playing in the snow. We just happened to be in a castle.

Everything was perfect… well except one girl tried to test the frozen pond on the manor grounds and fell through. And one guy spilled hot cocoa all over someone’s homework. And a student slipped and fell on me during the snowball fight and sprained my ankle which caused me to hobble around for the whole weekend.

But alas, it was perfect.

What started out as the worst weekend at Harlaxton became one of the best. And as the snow melted and the next week began, we watched our wonderland fade, but we were thankful for wiggling through the wardrobe to Narnia.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

What I Wish I Knew Before Coming to Harlaxton

By: Dallas Carter

Studying abroad at Harlaxton can be an intimidating experience for everyone involved. Parents are worried about their student’s safety and students are worried about navigating a foreign country on their own. Luckily, universities back home provide helpful study abroad resources. The University of Evansville even makes Harlaxton students take mandatory bi-weekly information sessions the semester before they attend. Even with these resources, not all your questions will get answered. Many students face unexpected realities or challenges when arriving and traveling abroad. To help, here are the top 10 things I wish I had known before coming to Harlaxton.

1.  British studies is not a typical college class


British Studies is worth six credits and is broken up into two parts: a lecture and a small-group seminar. The lectures are not what you’re used to (they’re traditional British lectures). Professors don’t ask questions or expect student interaction or even wait to make sure everyone has written down what’s on each slide. Instead, the speaking Professor will spend the hour giving a well-prepared lecture, with a small amount of accompanying slides, no pauses, no breaks, or extra time for you to catch up.

            While this sounds intimidating, it can be easy to manage as long as you apply yourself, pay attention, and focus on writing notes on the key points. The best way to do well in British studies is to keep up with your readings so you can understand and participate in the discussions during the seminar portion. Also, pay attention to the handbook—consider it to be a British studies version of the Bible.


2. Flights aren’t free


            The study abroad class at UE emphasizes the easiness of traveling once you arrive in England. Trains are quick and cheap and flights are easy to book. The UE rumor mill even produces stories about 5 pound flights to countries in continental Europe. However, prices have typically been higher than any of us expected.

 I took a walk around the Manor one Sunday after we had first arrived and came across several students on the phone with their parents. The topic of conversation: flights were expensive. Granted they are much cheaper than flying inside the United States, and fairly-good prices can be found by checking multiple sites, departure times, and airlines. I suggest using an incognito tab when booking trips so that you will see the best prices each time you search.


3. Balancing travel and coursework is a delicate situation


            While travel is a well-discussed topic before leaving for Harlaxton, classes and homework are often forgotten. When I arrived at the manor and we had our first British Studies lecture, I had almost forgotten I was here to study. It is easy to get swept up in the magic and excitement that comes with this experience. However, British studies alone assigns readings, presentations, and a term paper throughout the semester. Add on at least two other classes with homework and sometimes even field trips and you can get overwhelmed. Luckily, it isn’t hard to find a balance between weekend travel and homework.

            I recommend blocking out set times during the week to study or do class work. Also taking a weekend off from travel to catch up on work isn’t a bad idea. Not only will you get homework done, but you’ll also have time to organize plans for other trips, save some money, and, of course, catch-up on Netflix. If you are worried about tipping the scale too far towards your studies, take a break on a weekend with a scheduled local culture trip. You will still have a day to travel without the stress of planning a trip and you can even do your homework on the bus.

4. Take a combination of school-sponsored and independent trips


            Another trapeze balancing act at Harlaxton is independent travel and school-sponsored trips. Some people have had their favorite trips organized by the school, while others never took the sponsored-travel option. While a lot of it is personal preference, both options have strengths and weaknesses.

            School trips relieve students of the hassle of planning and booking their own travel and accommodation, but independent travel allows for more freedom and a wider variety of destinations. If you are extremely anxious about organizing your own trips, then take advantage of the sponsored travel. However, if you are unsure or indifferent, book two or three school trips and leave the rest of your schedule open. This gives you the opportunity for planning trips to unexpected countries and with new people you meet at the Manor. For the school trips, I recommend the London trip at the beginning of the semester, which gives you time to explore and settle in to life abroad, and the Italy trip at the end because it is nine days long and the travel between three Italian cities is taken care of for you.

5. England is cold, but not just outside


            Winter in America is cold, but nothing feels better than coming indoors, taking off your ten layers and being warm. At Harlaxton however, you will always want layers. Although the information session mentions the importance of layers and warm clothes, they were always referencing trips and outdoor excursions. I was unprepared for the cold temperature of the manor, in common rooms, classrooms, and the refractory alike. Luckily, most of the dorm rooms aren’t freezing, but still pack for warmth and comfort over fashion to survive in the Manor.

            I suggest bringing thicker socks than you would normally wear and warm lounge shoes like slippers with non-slip soles or Ugg boots. Sweaters or long-sleeve shirts are another essential that will keep you warm, but can also be dressed up for classes or travel. An item that I wish I had packed to keep warm would be a soft travel blanket. It’s easy to buy one in town, but if you can pack it ahead of time and you can use it on trips, in airports, the common rooms, and at night.     


6. Be spontaneous


            With all the planning, scheduling and booking ahead that takes place at Harlaxton, you can begin to feel like you are running from one thing to the next. It is important to leave open places in your schedule for simply hanging out or something unexpected. Opening yourself up to unplanned activities can lead to some of your best memories at Harlaxton.

            One of the most important things I’ve learned since being abroad is that you should be spontaneous every once in a while. Yes, the study abroad pamphlet in your university's office says to be prepared, but taking part in unexpected events gives you a nice break from the clockwork of the rest of the semester.

            I had planned a free weekend to catch up on homework and sleep, but I was invited to Nottingham for a day trip and I got to visit underground caves and a cat cafe I wouldn’t have seen before. When I was in Edinburgh we had nothing to do one night and were going to stay at our hostel for a few hours, but instead bought tickets to see a Queen Tribute band at Edinburgh Playhouse. It is one of my favorite things I’ve done so far!

If you want to start being spontaneous on a smaller scale, I encourage you to go to the Bistro on a Wednesday, even if you have class the next morning and had planned on going to bed early. Or even take part in a surprise house competition or play in a Harlaxton Lion’s basketball game on a night they request extra players. Don’t be afraid to say yes to things, as they could lead to some of your favorite experiences at Harlaxton.

7. Harlaxton isn’t always picture perfect


            Smiling faces and candid laughter with Harlaxton Manor as a backdrop. This image greeted me on the front of the orientation folder for my Harlaxton session and it painted a picture of perfection. Pair that with countless happy Facebook posts from my peers who traveled before me and you get a dangerous concoction of unrealistic expectations. Don’t get me wrong, Harlaxton is a whirlwind of excitement and enjoyment, but you aren’t in a protective bubble.

            Whether it’s homesickness, a bad grade, or issues while traveling, you are still going to face everyday struggles and life hardships while at Harlaxton. Many of my friends got colds soon after arriving and had to attend their first trips with fevers and runny noses. But just like at home, they got better and still managed to see the silver lining—they are in England! As long as you can take the good with the bad and remember life goes on, you will still get your picture perfect moments.


8. Expect unexpected costs

            Your flight is booked, train tickets printed and hostel paid for. You have scheduled and reserved tickets to museums, castles, and pub crawls, but then you get to your destination a disaster strikes—you need a taxi from the airport to your hostel and when you get there it costs 50 Euros. Life is full of the unexpected, and traveling while at Harlaxton is full of unexpected expenses.

            The story of the overpriced taxi is a true event that happened to me and a friend when arriving in Paris. On another trip we ended up spending 20 pounds on a metro pass for the weekend. While it was well worth the cost, we had not anticipated spending the extra money. Don’t worry too much when you have to spend a little more than you wanted because you won’t remember those few dollars when you reflect back, you’ll remember the amazing memories they led to. However, do be prepared and always bring a small emergency fund for every trip.

9. Manage your free time


            By now you are probably thinking you will have zero free time in Harlaxton. That’s what I was expecting as well. But during the week, there will be moments in between classes, free evenings and, if you’re lucky, days were your schedule ends at 11 am with British Studies. This abundance of free time is a blessing, but it can also be a curse.

            Managing your free time is an important part of planning at Harlaxton. If you aren’t careful you will spend your open hours scrolling through Facebook or playing chess in the junior common room. While these are both acceptable ways to unwind, doing them too often can lead to problems. Make sure you use some of your free time to organize yourself, do homework, and maybe even clean your room! Doing this can take a lot of energy at the time, but you’ll be thankful for it when Monday comes and you aren’t as stressed about upcoming due dates.

10. Form your own opinions


            No matter what I or anyone else tells you, take it with a grain of salt. In the end, you know yourself the best. You have your own time management tips and tricks, wardrobe preferences, planning strategies, budget and opinion on travel options. I can give you a play-by-play of my every moment at Harlaxton, but it won’t matter because you will still have your own different and unique experience.

            While listening to other people’s advice and experiences can help to prepare you for the semester and ease your worries, you have to eventually take the reins. Using your own past experiences, expectations, and preferences, you should form your own opinion about each aspect of Harlaxton. Because of this opinion you will sometimes have to go at it alone. Maybe break away from the group to climb Arthur's Seat in Scotland or go all out and plan a solo trip if no one else wants to visit your dream destination.


No matter what else happens, this is your study abroad experience and you have to take control of it for yourself. You and your own attitude will make or break your semester. So take my advice, listen in the info session, pack well, and then come to Harlaxton and experience it for yourself. Only then will you be truly prepared for this life-changing semester.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Life’s Playgrounds: Finding Small Moments in Larger-Than-Life Experiences

By: Dallas Carter
Harlaxton Manor, even though a thick fog, is grand and beautiful. If you ever take a quick glance at it from the top of the back gardens, it will almost appear fake — as if someone is holding a postcard against the landscape.

            Living and studying at Harlaxton can be a surreal experience and is undoubtedly one of life’s bigger moments. Our lives are full of these moments. From graduations to birthdays, we all experience events and opportunities that seem bigger than ourselves. There is a certain magic to these moments, but sometimes we can go too far trying to make these experiences perfect.

            In the case of Harlaxton, a busy schedule in the manor and trips every weekend can begin to feel overwhelming. When we put too much pressure on events to be perfect, we can fail to enjoy our experience.

            When I was in middle school, my mother and I took a trip to Chicago to see One Direction in concert. At the time, the trip was a huge moment in my life and I wanted everything to go exactly as planned. Of course life isn’t perfect, so neither was the trip. We could have focused on the fact that I forgot to pack my outfit for the concert or complained about the bad weather, which had ruined our beach day. Instead, we looked past the inconveniences and focused on the small unexpected moments of joy.

            On the four and a half hour drive home from Chicago, we stopped at every rest stop and played on the accompanying playground. We discovered jumbo seesaws and wooden-bench swings. We didn’t take any pictures or make any Facebook posts about our stops, but when I think back to this trip, the playgrounds are what I remember the most.

            Upon arriving at Harlaxton, I had plans and ideas of how my semester was going to go. I wanted everything to be perfect and had high expectations for my every moment abroad. But I now have to remind myself to find the playgrounds alongside my study abroad experience.

            Whether it’s exploring Harlaxton village on a rare sunny day, eating cheese and grapes in a small village square, or listening to “The Clash” while drinking hot chocolate at a local cafĂ©, small moments influence our larger experiences.

            My first weekend trip to London is a perfect example of little pieces making up the bigger picture. We got lost trying to find Kerb Market, but stumbled upon a local college campus and got a peek into student life in London. The pub we planned to spend a few hours in after our walking tour was full, but we ended up eating at a pub that locals said has the best bangers and mash in London.

            Each plan that falls through or situation that becomes stressful is simply another opportunity for a new moment. We didn’t find the market, but I now have amazing pictures of the streets of London that I wouldn’t have gotten before.

When we look back on our time at Harlaxton we aren’t going to remember the missed opportunities, but the times we laughed and the happy memories we made. We will remember the little moments of joy hidden throughout every day. So even if your classes are hard or you’re homesick or you miss a train, take the time to find one of life’s many playgrounds and swing for a while.

Friday, 27 October 2017

You’re Not Alone

By: Molly Goodwin

Living​ ​in​ ​the​ ​same​ ​town​ your​ ​whole​ ​life,​ ​you​ ​might​ ​think:​ ​I​ ​know​ ​this​ ​city​ ​inside​ ​and out,​ ​like​ ​the​ ​back​ ​of​ ​my​ ​hand,​ ​there’s​ ​no​ ​point​ ​in​ ​going​ ​somewhere​ ​completely​ ​new,​ ​learn​ ​a whole​ ​new​ ​lifestyle,​ ​get​ ​used​ ​to​ ​a​ ​new​ ​town.​ ​Or,​ ​like​ ​me,​ ​you​ ​may​ ​think:​ ​I​ ​gotta​ ​get​ ​the​ ​heck​ ​out of​ ​here!​ ​Other​ ​places​ ​have​ ​always​ ​interested​ ​me, knowing​ ​that​ ​there​ ​are​ ​several thousand different​ ​cities​ ​within​ the 50​​ ​states​ ​that​ ​are​ ​awaiting​ ​new​ ​tourists​ ​and​ ​citizens.​ ​There​ ​are almost​ ​endless​ ​possibilities​ ​within​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States.  I​ ​was​ ​19​ ​years​ ​old​ ​when​ ​I​ ​applied​ ​to​ ​study​ ​abroad.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​step​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​love being​ ​close​ ​to​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​family,​ ​and​ ​Europe​ ​was​​ ​5,000​ ​or​ ​so​ ​miles​ ​away​ ​from​ ​something I’ve​ ​been​ ​used​ ​to​ ​my​ ​entire​ ​life.​ ​I​ ​wasn’t​ ​100%​ ​okay​ ​with​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​being​ ​that​ ​far​ ​away​ ​for almost​ ​half​ ​a​ ​year;​ ​it​ ​seemed​ ​scary.​ ​I’ve​ ​never​ ​moved​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​my​ ​hometown.​ ​I’ve​ ​never stayed​ ​in​ ​another​ ​city​ ​or​ ​state​ ​for​ ​more​ ​than​ ​two​ ​weeks.​ ​This​ ​was​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​step​ ​I’d​ ​ever​ ​taken in​ ​my​ ​life.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​always​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​live​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​Evansville,​ ​and​ ​even​ ​out​ ​of​ ​Indiana.​ ​But​ ​out​ ​of my​ ​own​ ​country?​ ​That​ ​was​ ​almost​ ​insane​ ​to​ ​me.​ ​Was​ ​I​ ​doing​ ​the​ ​right​ ​thing?​ ​Will​ ​I​ ​even​ ​enjoy myself​ ​there?​ ​What​ ​if​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​belong?​ ​These​ ​three​ ​questions,​ ​including​ ​several​ ​others,​ ​raced through​ ​my​ ​head​ ​daily,​ ​just​ ​waiting​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​if​ ​I​ ​was​ ​accepted​ ​or​ ​not​ ​into​ ​Harlaxton. A​ ​few​ ​months​ ​after​ ​applying,​ ​in​ ​mid-October​ ​I​ ​received​ ​an​ ​email​ ​from​ ​an​ ​adviser​ ​at Harlaxton.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​hesitant​ ​to​ ​open.​ ​If​ ​I​ ​was​ ​accepted,​ ​I​ ​would​ ​be​ ​living​ ​in​ ​Europe.​ ​If​ ​not,​ ​I’d continue​ ​my​ ​life​ ​in​ ​Evansville.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​an​ ​acceptance​ ​letter.​ ​My​ ​heart​ ​was​ ​racing,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​both ecstatic​ ​and​ ​nervous.​ ​I​ ​immediately​ ​went​ ​to​ ​Facebook​ ​and​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​share​ ​this​ ​life-changing event,​ ​I​ ​received​ ​so​ ​many​ ​positive​ ​comments​ ​and​ ​encouragements.​ ​One​ ​important​ ​factor​ ​that helped​ ​me​ ​believe​ ​Harlaxton​ ​was​ ​the​ ​perfect​ ​choice​ ​for​ ​me​ ​was​ ​that​ ​my​ ​mother,​ ​when​ ​she​ ​was in​ ​college,​ ​attended​ ​Harlaxton​ ​and​ ​loved​ ​it.​ ​If​ ​there​ ​was​ ​one​ ​school​ ​my​ ​parents​ ​wanted me​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​Harlaxton.​ ​I​ ​knew​ ​I​ ​would​ ​be​ ​in​ ​good​ ​hands.​ ​My​ ​fellow​ ​classmates​ ​would​ ​be from​ ​the​ ​states,​ ​so​ ​we’d​ ​all​ ​be​ ​going​ ​through​ ​the​ ​same​ ​thing:​ ​culture​ ​shock​ ​and​ ​homesickness.  For​ ​some​ ​people,​ ​homesickness​ ​hit​ ​them​ ​right​ ​away,​ ​practically​ ​the​ ​moment​ ​they​ ​walked into​ ​the​ ​school,​ ​or​ ​got​ ​off​ ​the​ ​plane​ ​in​ ​London.​ ​For​ ​some​ ​people,​ ​it​ ​still​ ​hasn’t​ ​hit​ ​yet.​ ​For​ ​me,​ ​it​ ​is just​ ​now​ ​hitting.​ ​I​ ​know​ ​getting​ ​culture​ ​shock​ ​two​ ​months​ ​into​ ​the​ ​semester​ ​can​ ​be​ ​a​ ​little​ ​late.​ ​I’m​ ​just​ ​now​ ​realizing​ ​how​ ​far​ ​away​ ​I​ ​am​ ​from​ ​family,​ ​because​ ​I’ve​ ​been​ ​gone​ ​for​ ​this​ ​long.​ ​I realize​ ​that​ ​it​ ​can​ ​be​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​communicate​ ​with​ ​them​ ​every​ ​day​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​extensive​ ​6​ ​hour time​ ​difference.​ ​That​ ​hits​ ​me​ ​pretty​ ​hard.​ ​It’s​ ​also​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​my​ ​boyfriend.

Though​ ​he​ ​is​ ​only​ ​5​ ​hours​ ​ahead,​ ​versus​ ​6​ ​from​ ​my​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​family,​ ​it’s​ ​still​ ​difficult.​ ​I’ll​ ​be waking​ ​up​ ​for​ ​the​ ​day,​ ​and​ ​they’ll​ ​be​ ​going​ ​to​ ​bed​ ​or​ ​already​ ​asleep.​ ​I’ll​ ​be​ ​going​ ​to​ ​bed​ ​and​ ​they will​ ​be​ ​sitting​ ​down​ ​and​ ​eating​ ​dinner.​ ​It’s​ ​hard. If​ ​I​ ​could​ ​give​ ​any​ ​advice,​ ​always​ ​take​ ​the​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​study​ ​abroad.​ ​Even​ ​if​ ​it’s​ ​for​ ​a few​ ​weeks,​ ​a​ ​summer,​ ​or​ ​a​ ​month​ ​or​ ​two.​ ​Getting​ ​to​ ​live​ ​in​ ​another​ ​country​ ​has​ ​been​ ​extremely beneficial​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​no​ ​idea​ ​what​ ​England​ ​was​ ​like​ ​before​ ​I​ ​came​ ​here.​ ​Now,​ ​I​ ​am​ ​learning​ ​a whole​ ​different​ ​culture​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​an​ ​amazing​ ​experience.​ ​I​ ​am​ ​doing​ ​what​ ​I’ve​ ​always​ ​wanted​ ​to do,​ ​travel​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​Once​ ​you’re​ ​in​ ​Europe,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​travel​ ​to​ ​other​ ​countries​ ​for​ ​as​ ​low​ ​as​ ​£10. That’s​ ​an​ ​incredible​ ​price.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​even​ ​learn​ ​cultures​ ​of​ ​non-English​ ​speaking​ ​countries.​ ​For example,​ ​I​ ​traveled​ ​to​ ​Denmark,​ ​where​ ​most​ ​of​ ​their​ ​language​ ​is​ ​Danish.​ ​Sure,​ ​we​ ​had​ ​to​ ​use Google​ ​translate,​ ​but​ ​it​ ​was​ ​incredible​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​about​ ​a​ ​whole​ ​other​ ​culture​ ​and​ ​environment. Though​ ​you​ ​might​ ​be​ ​far​ ​from​ ​the​ ​ones​ ​you​ ​love,​ ​technology​ ​is​ ​advancing​ ​so​ ​much:​ ​you​ ​have Facebook,​ ​WhatsApp,​ ​Skype​ ​and​ ​endless​ ​other​ ​apps​ ​that​ ​will​ ​let​ ​you​ ​video​ ​chat​ ​or​ ​text​ ​family and​ ​friends.​ ​Take​ ​this​ ​opportunity,​ ​because​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​chance​ ​you​ ​won’t​ ​get​ ​to​ ​do something​ ​as​ ​incredible​ ​as​ ​this​ ​again.  

Monday, 18 September 2017

How To Play Your Hand

By: McKenna Lewis

A week before I left for Harlaxton my grandpa passed away.

Now, before you go so far as to close out of this blog and run as far away as possible, hear me out.

I think my initial statement would be better served if I backtracked a bit:

When I came into college at the University of Evansville, I knew that I needed to study abroad. No questions asked. I wanted SO badly to classify myself as a world traveler. As the months between me and Harlaxton started turningbl to weeks and then to days, it began to hit me just how REAL this opportunity was.

Of course, I had my list of places I absolutely had to see and, as early as I could justify for myself, I began to mark where I was going each weekend of the semester. Nothing else mattered aside from the fact that I was going to see as much of the world as I could while I was here.

Then it happened. I had gone back to UE a few weeks before leaving for Harlaxton to help with Welcome Week when my mom called to tell me that my grandfather’s time here on earth had been taken sooner than we anticipated and I needed to come back home.

A bittersweet experience because, while I was sad and dealing with so many different emotions, I was also happy that I could be with my family to sort through the initial grief and feel their love and support in person rather than 4,000 miles away.

When I boarded my plane for Europe the day after my grandfather’s funeral, I was overwhelmed with uncertainty. Uncertainty for friendships both at home and abroad, uncertainty for my mental health as I dealt with my grief, and uncertainty as to whether I would still be able to see as much of the world as I had originally planned.

 Now, I must say that I’ve never been a big believer in coincidence. I will tell anyone that crosses my path that everything happens for a reason, regardless of whether you know that reason now or not.

I flew across the world with the question sitting idle in the back of my mind: what is the bigger picture behind the heartache I experienced right before this life changing experience?

And, much to my surprise, the answer started to come to me the minute I stepped foot off my plane. It was blurry as I walked through the airport, it was blurry as I sat on the bus to the manor, and it was blurry as I went through orientation.

But on the first night that I sat in the Bistro talking with new people like they were old friends and laughing until my stomach hurt, it finally started to become clear to me:

You don’t get a say in the cards you’re dealt. You don’t get a say in when you’re dealt them. And you don’t get a say in how other people’s hands will play in correspondence with yours. However, what you do get a say in is the way you handle each situation. You get to decide on the actions you take and the attitude you have while taking them.

You get to choose how to play your hand.

Through the people I had just met, I learned that I had the choice as to how this semester would go. I could be bitter about things I couldn’t change or joyful towards the opportunities I had moving forward. I could choose the fast track each weekend, rushing from city to city to see as many places as I could, or I could step back and take in the things I was able to and save the rest for next time. Because there will be a next time.

More important than anything, I learned that 10 times out of 10 the people you surround yourself with will impact your journey. Sometimes it’s the people you’ve known forever, sometimes it’s the people you met a few short years ago, and sometimes it’s the people you met a few short weeks ago.

Don’t let the potential for amazing moments in life pass you by because you’re too focused on getting off on the next stop on the tourist train. Embrace the moments you get with the people you get them with and believe that this moment in your life is good because of them.

I’d look around a new city in awe of the people I have the privilege to share it with before I stand in awe of the buildings any day.

So, how could I sum up all my learnings from this experience thus far? It’s easy. Traveling is about the destination, but the destination wouldn’t mean anything without the people standing beside you when you get there.

As for my grandfather? The sadness lingers, and it will for a long time. But for the next few months I will choose joy because I know that, at each stop on my journey, he is standing there with me, too.