Thursday, 11 September 2014

A Weekend in London

Hello, all!

My name is Sydney Rae Davis, and I’m a sophomore from Western Kentucky University studying here at Harlaxton. As a theatre major from a relatively small town, I absolutely adored London. (New York’s got my heart, but London’s a pretty close second). If you’re wondering what the connection between theatre and London is, the answer is the West End, which is the equivalent of Broadway in New York City. They’re both massive and lovely theatre districts in two equally beautiful cities. Since it was my first ever time in London, I decided to see the two shows the West End is best known for: The Phantom of the Opera and The Mousetrap. They also happen to be two of the most iconic shows of all time. And they did not disappoint. Other notable things I did included the Warner Brothers Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Buckingham Palace. Because I like lists, here is everything I did in list format.

What I did:

·         Clubbing in Soho (Definite no-go if you like good music and breathing freely)

·         Warner Brothers Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter (So worth the price)
·         Dinner at CafĂ© Rouge
·         The Phantom of the Opera
·         Piccadilly Circus

·         Leicester Square
·         Green Park & Hyde Park
·         Buckingham Palace
·         The Moustrap (Absolutely wonderful)

I would recommend everything I did, minus clubbing in Soho. However, I would advise that Piccadilly Circus is not as big of a deal as I thought it would be. I was imagining something equivalent to Times Square. Not so much the case, but still cool. I do hope to get the chance to go back and check off another travel to do list.

What London taught me:

The importance of
·         Staying at a hotel/hostel with free wifi- Communicating with your fellow travellers and navigating the city becomes a bit of a challenge with no wifi or cellular data. When you book your next stay, make sure the place offers free wifi.
·         Maps- As a child of the iPhone generation, I use my phone for everything. I especially rely on it for navigation, which as I said before, was inaccessible. Thankfully, maps are posted pretty much everywhere around the city. Look for them. Use them! Don’t ask five different strangers for directions to one place. Also, it helps to take a picture of the map after you’ve figured out your route, just in case you forget.
·         The tube- It is so much cheaper than taking a taxi. And there is usually a worker near the entrance to the station who is at least willing if not happy to give you assistance if you don’t know how to get where you want to go. Note: if you call it the subway, you will be corrected.

Well, I hope this post provided you with some idea of what you want to do if you go back or some insight into travel in general. Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

-Sydney Rae Davis

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

First Impressions

Hey y'all!

My name is McKenzie Perdew, and I will be your first blogger of the semester for The Lion's Roar, Harlaxton’s student-run blog. I am a junior at Western Kentucky University (located in Bowling Green, KY) where I study Psychology and Communications. That’s probably enough about little ole me, because this blog is about my journey to this marvelous manor and all of the first impressions that came along with it!

So, my very first impression of England came when I landed in London Heathrow. Based on stereotypes, I was expecting very rude and unhelpful English workers meandering around the airport. (I know, I know, shame on me.) However, everyone I talked to (which was really only two) was very kind and helpful, even though they could take one whiff and tell that I reeked of American tourist. My airport experience was very simple and pretty easy, although it took me five minutes to figure out how to flush the Heathrow’s toilets. But that’s a whole other story.

I like to imagine that I could give you another first impression of the roadways and landscape between London and Grantham, but alas, I was sound asleep on my coach bus. However, a few tidbits of interesting things I learned between my falls into unconsciousness:

#1: You are required to wear seatbelts on coach buses, something that is not even offered in the States. I was pretty impressed at how seriously they take road safety.

#2: There are literally roundabouts everywhere and they are so efficient. Bowling Green (where my school is) recently got a roundabout on the edge of campus and it was a huge disaster because apparently no one knows how to drive in a circle and read traffic signs properly. Yet, everyone over on this side of the pond drives them flawlessly and effortlessly. For that, I commend the British.

I finally woke up to Owen Sheridan’s voice on the microphone telling us that if we looked over to our left, we could see the glorious manor where we would be staying. In that moment, I absolutely fell in love with this place and I couldn’t believe that I was staying here for four whole months. I’m not exactly sure how Gregory Gregory managed to do it, but this manor was even more beautiful than all of the pictures WKU gave me and I Google-d combined. Like, I’m talking so gorgeous that a smile creeps across your face, and you don’t even know it because you’re so awestruck in that moment. It happened to me, and it was hands-down one of the top 5 best moments of my life. I won’t even bother to try to describe the architecture because the nicest words I can find will not come close to doing it justice.

As if the exterior of Harlaxton was not enough, staff members led us inside of the building, and I was left dumbfounded once again. We were led in through the front door and up one of the many grand staircases and into the Great Hall. The first thing you notice is this absolutely massively stunning chandelier that hangs from the ceiling. The way it shimmered in the sunlight left me speechless. Once again, I cannot find any words to do this light fixture justice. If you want to come close, think of the most beautiful chandelier you’ve ever seen and then multiply it by 1,000. Or you can just look at this picture below.

Basically, the interior and exterior of the manor is absolutely stunning. I was completely and totally blown away at the amount of sheer beautiful detail in every single room of the manor house. Harlaxton most definitely made a phenomenal and lasting first impression. Even after being here for a week, I am still finding myself being impressed by the architecture of the manor every time I walk from the Carriage House. Gregory Gregory deserves “Man of the Year” every year for his design of this building.

Although it is hard to move on from talking on end about Harlaxton Manor, the town of Grantham also deserves to get some recognition. On Saturday, the school gave us a lift into town so we could do a little shopping and exploring of our new hometown. After my airport experience with happy, kind, and helpful airport workers, I was hesitant to expect that out of everyone else. (Again, shame on me.) Once again, I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely all of the workers were. A worker from Wilko’s (the English equivalent of Walgreen’s) took me all over the store to find washcloths, towels, toothpaste, and hair products because I was so insanely clueless about everything there. Another worker helped us with the currency at checkout and congratulated us American students on being able to drink here.

It’s only been a week, but it has been one of the best in my life. Thank you England, Grantham, and Harlaxton for beautiful first impressions.

Stay Lovely,

McKenzie Perdew

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Semester to Remember

With less than a week until all students depart Harlaxton I would like to take a little time to talk about what studying abroad at Harlaxton has meant to me.

I was always told that this journey to Harlaxton and my semester abroad was going to be "life changing," yeah, I knew I was going to learn a lot of new things and have a great time but it was not until I was here that I fully understood exactly what everyone meant. However, it is so difficult to explain how life changing it truly is, there are not words to express what this semester has meant to me and only my fellow Haralxton students can understand this sentiment.

When I told family and friends that I was studying abroad for a semester in England but would be attending a school with only American students they seemed rather puzzled and often questioned why I wouldn't just go to a school with English students? This too was a fear I had, but thanks to Harlaxton I have been exposed to the British way of life and will be leaving with a much better understand of the world. Since I am living with only American students I was able to experience all these new things with people who were in the same situation, and because of this I was able to form the strongest of friendships. Let me tell you, it is really difficult to live in one big old house with all your fellow students and professors and not form strong relationships, they see you at your best and they, more than likely, saw you at your not so best. You see these people every single day, you eat with them, you travel with them, you have class with them, you enjoy a pint together, and you become a family. I came into this situation barely knowing anyone, having only met the girls coming over from my school twice before, and was so scared that I would not find a place to fit in at Harlaxton. I have become extremely close to the five other girls that came to Harlaxton with me from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and I am proud to call them my friends and thankful that we get to skip a sorrowful goodbye and, instead, head back to our home campus where we can keep the good times rolling. I have also been blessed with many friends from schools all over the United States, and now I know that I am leaving but will forever and always have my Harlaxton family. Even though we may not be under the same roof or even in the same country, we have had this semester together and that is all we really needed.

I would like to take a moment to extend a few thanks, first off to all those that work at Harlaxton Manor for making this house a home and making living here a pure delight. Next, thank you to all the members of the Student Development Office for putting so much time and effort into ensuring we had competitions, resources, and endless fun this semester.  All the professors and other staff members deserve a great round of applause for all that they did and for being a part of our experience as well. With that being said, I would like to bring attention to the British Studies professors who had to put up with all of these crazy American students this semester. I can honestly say that if it weren't for Dr. Baker, Dr. Bujak, Dr. Green, and Dr. Magennis, this semester would not have been as special and we are leaving brighter and better because of all of you. (Side note: best of luck to Dr. Magennis who will be finishing up her last semester here, Harlaxton was made better because of you and will not be the same without you!) Lastly, I would like to take a moment to thank Dr. Gordon Kingsley for being the best Principal Harlaxton could have ever asked for. On behalf of all the students to ever grace your presence, we thank you for all that you have done, all that you do, and all that you will continue to do! Congratulations on your retirement, Harlaxton will miss you greatly.

I think it has yet to hit me that I only have finals left and less than a week until I am forced to bid adieu to the place that has so comfortably become my home. I am so thankful for everything that I had the opportunity to do and experience during this semester. I am sure that tears will be shed as we drive away from the Manor for the last time, but those tears come because of all the great times that were had here and, although, we will all be sad our time here has finished, we leave knowing that we are better because of Harlaxton and our lives have forever been changed. Thank you, Harlaxton, you have been brilliant.

Lorissa Vanden Hoogen

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

An Adventure in Awe

by: Joy Grace Chen

My stay here in England could, I think, be summed up in one word: awe. The past three and a half months have been a dream that’s almost too good to be true, and every now and then I still pinch myself to make sure it’s real.

Am I really studying abroad in Europe, living in a 19th century English country mansion? Heck, yeah.

Harlaxton itself has held me in a perpetual state of awe. From the moment I first glimpsed it through jetlagged eyes on the way in from Heathrow, from the day I was out for a run and saw its turrets rising from the morning mist like some fairy tale castle. I fell head over heels in love the first time I explored the rooms, painted ceilings, and labyrinths of staircases. Halfway through the semester, when we had to study the manor for our second British Studies exam, I fell in love all over again.
Pan out to England. It’s pretty unbelievably amazing. One of my classes was taught by a professor determined to immerse us in the heart of England’s nature. On our first field trip for that class, we trekked a total of seven miles over the wild, breathtaking moors that inspired the setting for Wuthering Heights. On our second field trip, our walk from Bakewell to Chatsworth brought us up close and personal with an emerald green field populated by baby lambs. Yeah, my feet hated me after both trips, but I wouldn’t trade either experience of quintessential English countryside for anything in the world.
The awe continues for Europe as a whole. I’ve watched the sunrise from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. I’ve taken a cruise on Loch Ness and petted a stag and a highland cow. I’ve wandered the sunlit canals of Amsterdam. I’ve seen Paris in springtime spread out like a tapestry. I’ve visited a Roman fort that has existed for 2,000 years and the Eiffel Tower—an iron lattice relic from the late 19th century.
What is this? Am I dreaming? Why is Europe so beautiful, so awe-inspiring, so perfectly picturesque? I’ve been asking myself these questions since the beginning of the semester, and, while I don’t have the answers yet, I will be eternally thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given just to ask them.
And … in the eloquent words of a guy I've never heard of before: It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.

~Joy Grace


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Long Weekend, Language Barrier, etc.

Of course, we had to start our first long weekend trip with a travel all-nighter. Our brains were already bleeding out our ears from that British Studies exam, and we figured we didn’t have that much more to lose. One weather-delayed train ride, one London night bus, and a whole lot of airport security hassle later, my friends and I were sprawled out on the cold Stansted airport floor, attempting to sleep in shifts before our plane took off at 8. We arrived in Aachen, Germany around 11 the next morning.
Understandably, our first day in Germany is a bit fuzzy in my memory. The one thing I do remember quite clearly, however, was the language barrier. Whether butchering an order of Apfeltasche in a bakery or half-heartedly flipping through paperbacks in a bookstore or even trying to read the plaques in an otherwise-awesome cathedral, we were continually and blatantly reminded that we were tourists who didn’t speak a lick of German.

The German couple we stayed with was kind enough to translate pretty much everything for us; however, their two boys didn’t speak English. Playing games with them got pretty awkwardly creative when communication was reduced to sign language, guesswork, and our mutual appreciation of the Pixar movie Cars.

We spent our final day in Amsterdam. Having left our helpful host family in Germany, we congratulated ourselves on successfully surviving the train ride to Amsterdam, only to run into a reality check when we found that all the signs in the station were in Dutch. Okay, now, breathe. We were college students; we were smart, resourceful, and mature; but—argh—let’s face it, we were hungry and starting to panic a little bit.

Actually, after the initial shock and bewilderment, we came to our senses, got some food, and found Amsterdam beautifully easy to navigate. We experimented with the transportation system, visited the Van Gogh museum, developed a love affair with the classic fries with mayonnaise, and one of my friends ended up falling head over heels for the Dutch language. So, it worked out.

And we learned some great lessons that weekend. The thrill of leaving the U.K. for the first time. The value and personal quality of staying with a local family. The perspective and cultural appreciation one gains from not being able to speak a language. Oh, and the importance of stringently sticking to airline liquid and baggage restrictions! (Trust me on this.)

Auf Wiedersehen!

~Joy Grace

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Southwell Workhouse Field Trip

Here are just a couple of photos from the British Studies field trip to Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire. 

Southwell Workhouse

Dani Schroeder and Dani Nohelty are put to work