Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Life Changing isn't a Strong Enough Description

Anyone you ask that has studied abroad will tell you the same thing. "Studying abroad changed my life." Anyone who hasn't studied abroad will say they wish they did.

"There is nothing I would not do for those who
are really my friends. I have no notion of loving
people by halves, it is not my nature." -Jane Austen

Being away in another country can be rough. But Harlaxton prepares you, they prepare you to travel alone, to immerse yourself into another culture, and how to make a new life in England.

But what they don't prepare you for is leaving. You're excited to go home and see your family, friends, and pets. Sadly, by going back to the states you end up leaving the new Harlaxton family you've made while being here, the new family of students from all across the United States, professors from different colleges, and the staff at Harlaxton Manor.

My biggest fear leaving Texas was not if I'd be able to do my school work or if I would be able to travel. It was if I'd be able to make friends. I was so incredibly scared I would get to England and find no one to be friends with. I was scared for no reason at all. I did make friends. And the friends I made I hope to keep for the rest of my life. They are the girls I stayed up late watching movies with, went out and painted the town red with, had amazing and silly adventures with, crammed for the British Studies with, and the girls who are now my family.
I owe a lot to Harlaxton for giving my this wonderful experience. But I think I owe them the most for giving me a new family. One that I hope to always be a part of.
"Friendship...is born at the moment when one man
says to another 'What! You too! I thought that
no one but myself...'" - C.S. Lewis

Written by: Skylar Plummer

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Tips for Future Fliers

Guys, do you know what's a super-awesome part of studying abroad? Flying! Airplanes! Adventures!
Do you know what's a really crappy part of studying abroad? FLYING!
Okay, okay - flying isn't always crappy. At least, it doesn't have to be. Sometimes, it can even be fun! However, it won't be fun if you're a dingus. An unprepared, ignorant, poorly-packed dingus.
Good news: you don't have to be a dingus like that! I've compiled a list of helpful flying tips for all the future Harlaxton students out there. If you follow the tips on this list and use a lil common sense, your chances of being a dingus will be greatly decreased, and the many flights of your Harlaxton semester may be blessed.

It's rule #1 for a reason, guys. PRINT YO BOARDING PASS BEFORE YOU GET TO THE AIRPORT. Budget airlines hand out some dirt-cheap flights, but they will charge you left and RIGHT for the little things -  like printing off your boarding pass for you. Do you know how much money airlines make off of charging people for printing boarding passes? No?? ME NEITHER BECAUSE I NEVER DID IT. AND NEITHER WILL YOU.

2. If it says one bag, BRING ONE BAG.

Look, y'all. We may be gallivanting around Europe for a semester, but we're still a bunch of broke college students. Even though we'll drop an absurd amount of money on those Birkenstocks in Germany or that Longchamp in France, we're still gonna go for the cheapest fare possible on our flights. That's okay! However, with the cheapest fare, a lot of budget airlines only allow ONE carry-on bag. Like, we ain't talking one carry-on and one personal item, - you get ONE BAG. I mean, you can definitely upgrade to "economy plus" or whatever and get that extra bag, but such a luxury does come at a price, my friends. And if it says one bag on your confirmation email or your boarding pass - girl, you BETTER only bring one bag. EasyJet is particularly adamant about this. (RyanAir allows a personal item even with the cheapest fare. Luv u RyanAir.) For my flight to Paris, the EasyJet personnel were insanely strict about this - if your personal item wouldn't fit into your carry-on, you had to get rid of it or pay for it.
Now, guys proooobably won't have too much of an issue with this bit. For my ladies, though, this is irritating as actual h*ck. For me and my pals, we would bring our purses and carry-on bags (tryna see if we could sneak two bags onto the plane, of course) and wait until a worker told us to get rid of the purse, and we would proceed to cram our purses into our larger bags. And then we would board the plane and immediately take our purses out of the bags. Because the flight attendants give 0 cares how many bags you have.
It makes little to no sense, an you know why??? They just tryna con you outta your money, those budget airlines. They're simultaneously a Godsend and a horrible trap where your money dies. Moral  of the story: bring one bag, or make sure that you leave enough room in your carry-on for your purse to be sadly crammed into.

3. Early Friday morning flights? NO.

Early morning flights are almost always the cheapest flights you can get. And by early morning, I'm talkin' 6am departure. Do you know what 6am departure means?? You need to be at the airport by, like, 4:30am - which means that you either need to sleep in the airport the night beforehand (let's be real - you ain't tryna spend money on a hotel near the airport for that night), or arrange a taxi to take you to the airport absurdly early.
Do. Not. Do. This. Fly out Thursday night. THIS is where you spend that extra money, guys. Our weekends are precious; we only get two full days to explore these exciting new cities and countries we're visiting. Going through security at 5am and boarding a plane at 6am will KILL the rest of your day. My friends and I did this to save some money because the Friday morning flights were cheaper than the Thursday evening flights, and it ruined our entire Friday in Munich. We were tired, unenthusiastic, and super lame.
Now, if you want to fly out at 6am on Sunday morning to get back to the manor, be my guest. That's not too bad. But starting out your travel weekend with a 6am flight on Friday morning? No. Bad move. 0/10. Would not recommend.

4. Get to the airport earlier that you think you need to.

Y'ALL. Is it REALLY the end of the world if you have extra time to kill in the airport??? HELLO, NO, IT IS NOT. You should always give yourself AT LEAST an hour and a half in the airport before your flight boards. AT LEAST. My friends and I usually strived to get to the airport two hours early. Security and passport controls lines can be INSANE, and they have definitely been known to cause flight dilemmas. Just get there early, guys. I don't care if it's the end of the semester and you've successfully navigated ten different airports at this point. You aren't Raven Baxter, and you don't know what you will run into in that airport. Get over yourself, and get there early.

5. Security: prepare yo'self.

Security doesn't have to suck! Okay, that was a lie. Security always sucks, and there's nothing you can do about that. BUT, you can get through there as efficiently as possible! If you have liquids or a laptop or tablet in your bag, you will have to get that out, so make sure those things are easily accessible. Speaking of your liquids, PLEASE just put them in the quart-sized plastic bag. Don't try to cheat the system and leave a few out, because they will search all your things and make you throw away the extra. I know how much you love your Bean Boots, but please, untie that excessive amount of laces while you're waiting in line. Beware of late passengers frantically passing you and dashing through the line - just let them go. Also, don't freak out if they swab you for drugs - it's nothing personal.

6. Don't you DARE pay extra money just to sit by you friends.


7. Check to see if you need to get a visa stamp before leaving the country!

Sometimes, you will have to get your boarding pass stamped before you fly out of the country. Do that. Usually, it will specify on your boarding pass whether or not you need one, but if you're unsure, ask a knowledgeable human because you don't want to get the gate and be told that you can't board because you don't have your visa stamp.


Wow, okay, this is the pot of gold, guys. You can buy really nifty travel space bags that don’t require a vacuum, and they are LIFE SAVERS. Packing for an entire weekend, especially a long weekend, in one carry-on bag can be a real-life struggle, but these guys will save the day! Mine are Ziploc brand, and I bought them in the States before coming to Harlaxton. Because packing for an entire semester is also a real-life struggle, and space bags give you room to pack fun things like Chacos.

9. Sleeping in an airport? Maybe not.

According to a poorly executed poll of Harlaxton students, sleeping in an airport sucks. Some airports are better to sleep in than others, but ya know, you just probably shouldn’t do it at all. However, if you feel that your Harlaxton semester will not be complete without an airport slumber party, the majority of students recommend Heathrow (#1) or Gatwick (#2) as the best places to do so. The worst? Luton. Don’t you dare try to sleep in Luton. Because you won’t. Your night will end in sadness.

10. Go to the right airport.

I mean, it should go without saying, but it has happened before…. If you tryna do multiple cities/countries in one weekend, you may actually fly into one airport and leave from a different one. Go to the right airport. Make smart decisions.

11. Don’t crack under pressure. (No pressure, though.)

Look, y’all. Something is going to go wrong during your travels this semester. Maybe you’ll miss your flight after you had already checked your bag. Maybe you’ll go to the wrong airport. Maybe you’ll get stranded in France or Greece because your flight got cancelled because the air traffic controllers are literally always on strike. Whatever happens, don’t freak out, guys. You’ll get your luggage back eventually, you’ll get to where you need to be, you’ll get out of France or Greece somehow. Employers love study abroad kiddos for a reason – because we can solve problems. We learn while we’re traveling abroad how to deal with missed flights and overcome obstacles and fix the problems we run into. Don’t crack under the pressure of these problems that you will run into, because it’s overcoming these problems that makes studying abroad such a rewarding and transformative experience.
Wow, sharing all of my travel knowledge + tips has been pretty exhausting, guys; I think I’ll have to leave it there for now. I hope that all of the future Harlaxton travelers reading this feel SO PREPARED to get out there and tackle the beasts that are airports and budget airlines. Sorry, though – you’re on your own for the trains and buses.

Written by: Lindsey Moore

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Signs You've Reached #travelsquadgoals

No matter where you go or how detailed your itinerary is, traveling is stressful. When you travel with friends over a long weekend, you see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the jet-lagged. Tensions can be high at times. After traveling with the same people for three months, I've realized that they key to finding good travel pals is being able to look past the sassy remarks, and power through the jet-lag. Here are some signs that maybe you've found your ideal travel crew too.

1. They don't judge you for the amount of money you spend.

Everyone spends money differently on different things. Some people throw caution (and a budget) to the wind when they go to Harry Potter World. Others have no problems buying an £8 mocha, and some still are perfectly content to opt for the £2 tea. Those with more "consumer tendencies" can rest assured that they won't be judged (at least out loud) for buying a £50 pair of shoes.

2. They come in clutch with extra room in their bags.

When you went just a little mug-crazy and overestimated the amount of room you have in your 'small carry on item,' they are always willing to give your Starbucks Dublin mug a safe place.

3. They know when to let you have your introvert time.

Being around people 24/7 is exhausting, especially when you're in a different country. There comes to be, though, an unspoken rule where at the end of the day the headphones go in, and everyone gets to recharge.

4. They love you even though they've seen you sleep with your mouth open.

Enough said.

Written by: Lydia Anvar

Monday, 28 March 2016

Dear Last Semester Me

As I am sitting here, typing on my laptop, I have just realized that I have less than a month left at Harlaxton. Even though I miss my friends and family back home, I know that I will also miss my time here in England. From becoming an experienced traveler to creating lasting friendships, I know that I will cherish every memory. It is hard to think that about four months ago I was leaving to study abroad. If I could say anything to prepare myself for this journey of a lifetime, here is what I would say:

Dear Last Semester Me,

You have absolutely no idea just how wonderful this experience will be for you. I understand that you are very nervous to be leaving everything safe and to be studying abroad in an unfamiliar country, but this program is definitely as magical as everyone has stated. You will finally travel to many of the countries that you have dreamt about, and every day will be an adventure. From the very first day, you will make so many new friends, and this beautiful, yet slightly daunting, manor will always welcome you home. This semester is about you, so do everything you have ever desired to accomplish, from trying exotic foods to zip lining. Every single second of every single minute in every single day you will be growing and becoming more independent, so enjoy every moment while you are here. Be confident. Be creative. Be adventurous. Be you.

Much love,

The Person You Have Always Aspired To Be

Here are some more practical pieces of advice from other Harlaxton students:

"On the flight over, make sure you bring two suitcases! You will need all the space, and do not forget your ear plugs and eye mask. You really should start saving, like, two years in advance." - Caroline D.

"SLEEP on the plane ride over, or you'll be dead for the first few days." - Abby B.

"Pay attention to your data, otherwise you'll have a huge unexpected fine. Also, alone time is good, because drama." - Kyle S.

"School will NOT be as easy as everyone says, so be prepared. Oh yeah, stick deodorant is good, too" - Sarah S.


Written by: Jessica Vaughan


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

British Studies Exams - A Timeline

2 weeks before exam: Professors will constantly drop not-so-subtle hints that you should probably start studying for the exam. Crack open North and South, perhaps. (Nah. Sorry, Lizzy Gaskell.)
1 week before exam: Your roommate will inform you that, in exactly one week, you will all be taking your exam. You remind her that she should stop talking because you know where she sleeps.
5 days before exam: You are canoeing in Lake District in blissful denial.
4 days before exam: You are on a charter bus for four hours. You reach into your backpack for your British Studies notes, but accidentally pull out your phone and headphones instead. Oops.
2 days before exam: You make a conscious effort to begin studying. You begin to stress eat – cheese puffs, popcorn, and an entire package of Kinder bars. You copy the notes you took at Southwell workhouse into a word document and reward all ten minutes of your hard work with a nap.
Day before exam, 8:00am: You awaken with a deep sense of melancholy. You groggily arise from the safe confines of your bed and shuffle your way to class. The pit of your stomach is filled with dread. (And all that food you stress ate last night.)
Day before exam, 12:00pm: You and your friends sit around the lunch table, discussing your impending doom. You calculate the lowest grade you can get on this without being deported.

Day before exam, 6:00pm: You half study/half refresh every single social media app you own eighty times.
Day before exam, 7:00pm: You and your roommates decide to get serious about studying. You migrate to the best source available for memorizing facts. YouTube. You Google songs about the Industrial Revolution, finding some professionally produced gems (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwPXisYXTVc), stellar class projects (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFVK1kN1v4Y), and the classic: the monarch song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqHwMloqHY4).
Day before exam, 7:15pm: As everyone knows, YouTube is a virtual black hole. The site recommends you watch the top ten SpongeBob songs, and you feel obligated to comply. You jam to the Campfire Song and make up an interpretive dance to the Goofy Goober Rock.
Day before exam, 7:30pm: All the dancing made you mighty hungry. You go online and order Chinese food.
Day before exam, 7:40pm: While waiting for your food to be delivered, you and your friends decide to practice analyzing pictures: Queen Victoria and her frighteningly pale family, some crazy dude doing an experiment on a bird, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews chilling in a field, Coalbrookdale by Night, Coalbrookdale by Morning, Iron Bridge by Coalbrookdale, Coalbrookdale the Sequel, and Coalbrookdale 3: More Coals, Brooks, and Dales than Ever Before.
Day before exam, 8:00pm: You prepare by discussing the architecture and layout of Harlaxton. The master of the house created backstairs and secret hallways so the servants couldn't be seen. (Rude.) The carriage house was created as a place to store people's horses. You realize you live in the carriage house and below even the servants. (Ruder.)
Day before exam, 8:30pm: Your glorious Chinese food arrives. You stuff your face with cashew chicken and those little circular rice patties they always give you here. You write down notes about why the 19th century was revolutionary from social and economics standpoints and left some people in the working class even poorer than you after booking your Italy trip.
Day before exam, 10:00pm: You finally have all your notes typed up, which you will use as your study guide. You type some practice essays and complain about how these exams would be so much easier if you were allowed to type your answers instead of writing everything by hand and getting that STUPID INK MARK ON THE SIDE OF YOUR PINKY.
Exam day, 1:00am: You fall into a restless sleep, having nightmares about The Great Fire of London (1666), getting a finger cut off working in the first factory at Cromford Mill (1771), and the worst: forgetting a date on your exam.
Exam day, 7:30am: You wake up to the sounds of birds chirping. Looking out your window, it looks like the weather is nice, but you can't be completely sure, as the tears of fear are clouding your vision.
Exam day, 8:30am: You attend the British Studies recap lecture and seminar. It helps a little. You try to pay attention, but you're thinking alternative life plans such as being a barista at Starbucks, working at a gas station, or finding a rich spouse. (Hey, it worked pretty well for Henry VIII's wives...for a while).
Exam day, 12:00pm: Even though you're getting pretty nauseous at this point, you try to eat some lunch. It's spicy chicken patty day, and spicy chicken patties are the bomb.
Exam day, 1:55pm: You take your seats and get your answer booklet. Your friends ask you what today's date is, and you scream that you don't know because you're trying to remember fifty other dates for the test. (What year even is it? It doesn't matter: just know that Corn Laws were repealed in 1846).
Exam day, 2:00-4:00pm: It's all a blur.
Exam day, 4:02pm: You turn in your exam with sweat on your brow and a throbbing wrist. Did you ace it? Did you fail it? Who knows, and who cares. IT'S OVER.
Written by: Taylor Gates

Monday, 21 March 2016

Lake District: 10/10

A couple of weekends ago, I had the distinct pleasure of going on the Lake District trip with the school, and let me tell ya, it was a breath of fresh air, guys.

I'm talkin' actual, wonderful, mountainous, fresh air.

Travelling to big cities every weekend can wear a human out. (Specifically, this human.) Even though every city is completely different, a lot of city travel is the same wherever you go: subways, busy city centers, museums, castles, cathedrals, etc. Don't get me wrong – I absolutely love it, but Lake District was exactly the spice my travel diet needed.

Lake District is a gorgeous little bit of England, complete with lakes (of course) and mountains and ghylls and gingerbread and villages. All the outdoorsy things you wanna do – you name it, and they've got it.

Now, I know what you may be thinking- "I can do outdoorsy stuff in the States!" Well, yeah, you can go canoeing and mountain biking in Kentucky or Indiana or wherever you're from, but you can visit museums and get lost on public transportation systems in the States, too. Besides, Lake District has so much more, people!

Can you go ghyll scrambling in the States? (NO.) A ghyll is basically a stream on steroids. It flows downhill down a mountainside, and lots of waterfalls and rocks are involved. Ghyll scrambling is pretty much just climbing up a waterfall, and it's exhilarating. The water is lowkey freezing as h*ck, but it's actually okay because you'll definitely lose feeling in your feet after about five minutes in the water and the rest of your body will be burning up because of the intense workout you're getting in. Also, you may find yourself wondering if it's actually safe for you to be doing this, which just adds to the thrill of it all (don't worry – I'm pretty sure the guides are trained and stuff). Ghyll scrambling is a hardcore must-do for most Lake District-goers, and I would highly recommend it. Climbing up a waterfall is probably one of the most accomplishing things a human can do – next to completing British Studies exam (except you don't walk away from the waterfall in despair).

Okay, so how about Grasmere gingerbread? Since Grasmere is actually a place in England, no, you can't get this stuff in America. It's sold at a teeny tiny little gingerbread shop right next to a lil graveyard, and it will shatter all of your current conceptions of gingerbread. Little gingerbread men? LOL, no. People RAVE about this stuff, and if ginger is your thing, then you better buy yourself a 12-pack because you'll love it. (As for myself, let's just say it was an experience.)

Now, what about those English villages??? I'm pretty sure these only exist in England. I could be wrong, TBD. The villages in the Lake District are THE picturesque English village you were imagining before you came to England. They're similar to Harlaxton village, but they actually have stuff to do! (!!!!) Ambleside is where our hostel was located, and it was adorable. There are so many cute, locally-owned shops to check out! Windermere is another great village in the Lake District; it's located about halfway down Lake Windermere so it has a lot going on. Let me tell ya, I betcha didn't think that Lake District could be a place to drop a lot of money in the shops, but some serious shopping was done here.

Of course, we can't forget about the spectacular views that the Lake District as to offer. I'd show you the pictures I took, but the fog was really intense during my visit so my pictures are actually horrible. Google Lake District and check out those images – WHOA BABY. THIS IS A REAL PLACE, AND YOU CAN GO WITH HARLAXTON COLLEGE.

Seriously, guys, 10/10, highly recommend. There's a reason why Lake District is the biggest college-led weekend trip (besides London, of course_ – BECAUSE IT"S AWESOME.


Written by: Lindsey Moore

Monday, 14 March 2016

This is What Dreams are Made of


As I will be returning straight home after this semester at Harlaxton ends, I have less than 6 weeks left in Europe! (I know! I can't believe it's so soon!) For a large chunk of you Harlaxtonians, you have about 7 weeks left because you are visiting the magical country of Italy for a week!! As I am unable to attend this trip, I visited Italy during the first long weekend and am here to offer you a list of tips and tricks that I picked up.

(Note: My group visited Venice for one day and Rome for two.)


By far, the gelato was my favorite part of the trip! It really is as amazing as everyone makes it sound! Over the course of 3 days, we ate gelato 5 times, and it was not nearly enough. Do some research for good gelato places in the area where you'll be staying and visit those. You can also find food blogs that will tell you how to identify a good gelato place from a bad one. The places we went to included Ciamphini, Fatamorgana, and Gelateria del Teatro (this last one was definitely my favorite!).

The most amazing gelato you will ever eat.

2.) Do your research to find good places to eat!

The food in Italy is AH-MAZING!! Because we had a foodie in our group (Megan O'Hearn) we ate at fantastic restaurants basically every day!! One night we had nothing but meat, cheese, and bread, and the taste was indescribable! How they packed so much flavor into the food is beyond me! Another night we ate at a local place that was unknown to many tourists and had the most amazing pasta I've ever tasted! If you take your time to look up and plan good places to eat at, Italy's food will easily by one of your favorite parts of the trip. And even if you don't have time to look up places to eat, take comfort in this: bad Italian pizza is basically the equivalent of good American pizza.

3.) Buy tickets ahead of time.

When we visited the Sistine Chapel, we bought tickets that day online before we left our Airbnb. I cannot say how grateful I am that we did this because when we arrived at the Chapel, the line was unbelievably long! I'm quite certain it would have taken us 3 hours to stand in the line. Instead, we skipped the line entirely and got immediate entrance. No fast pass or anything of the sort was required, just buying our tickets beforehand.

4.) Visit the Trevi Fountain early.

The Trevi is normally PACKED with tourists and this will be especially so when you visit because summer will be starting. To avoid the crowds, wake up early to visit the Trevi! We arrived at the fountain around 7:30/8ish and there were only 3-4 other people there! 

I am sad that I did not meet an attractive
Italian pop star after making my wish.

5.) Research the general customs.

Like most countries, Italy does things differently than others. One thing we noticed while in Italy is that when you arrive at the counter in restaurants, you're expected to know right then and there what you want, even if you haven't been able to see the menu or such. No Italians were rude about it, but it was a general expectation. The worst experience came when we went out for coffee. (Italy is well-known for their coffee and this specific café that we visited did not disappoint!) We didn't realize many glares and expressions of frustrations while we were there. Long story short, try to do research about the places you're going ahead of time.

6.) Don't worry about the language barrier!

Almost all signs are in Italian and English, and everyone we met spoke English, so we didn't have any trouble.

7.) Walking is possible!

Most touristy places in Rome are within walking distance. We did a lot of walking, but it was manageable. If you aren't comfortable with talking that much, Rome does have a subway and bus system. You can buy tickets for an hour or a day, etc. at ticket machines before boarding the bus/subway.

Walking helps burn off all that gelato!

And that about completes the list! Overall, just remember to have an amazing time! This is your last opportunity to travel with friends before you head home to America! And when are you going to get to visit Italy again? Relax and enjoy this time while you can!

Written by: Remington Grenier