Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A Weekend in Wales

Hello Readers!

It's Erika again, and this time I'm talking about North Wales!

Everyone said Wales was a beautiful and relaxing weekend, and believe me when I say that is the best summary of Wales ever. Every view of Wales was beautiful, from the quaint coastal towns to the mines we visited.  The entire visit was filled with wonderful side trips that kept everyone engaged and entertained.

Our first stop Friday morning was Chester, a really cool, little town that had way more than I was expecting. It's technically still in England, right on the border of Wales. The city looks so perfectly old fashioned yet modern and the blend makes you stop to stare at buildings. Plenty of the shops were located in buildings that had iron gargoyles surrounding the door frames or little touches that proved its true age. It was so cool to see Chester take advantage of their history and incorporate it into the modern world. Chester has the second most photographed clock in England, the Eastgate Clock. You can even walk right up to the top and get a great view of the city.

The clock was impressive, but there was just too much to see in a short period of time to pick one particular thing. Chester is one of those touristy towns that inspire street performers to entertain passersby. My group of friends was particularly entertained by a bird tamer who had massive owls that people could pet. I'm not afraid of owls or anything but the wing span of these birds had me keeping a wide perimeter. It was a totally random experience that just added to the charm of the trip. After the quick visit in Chester, we continued on to Llandudno (pronounced Lan-Did-No) and really got to see what Wales truly looks like.

That image above is the view from out hotel. Beachfront view 24/7, and it was even more beautiful in person. It was a really nice hotel, even if the carpet was ridiculously outdated. It had a grandparent's spare bedroom feeling and that was pretty cute to be honest. Llandudno was such a relaxed town. You could walk up and down the main city center pretty quickly and everyone was very easygoing and friendly. Something we weren't expecting was how quickly everything shut down. Most shops closed at 5:30 PM, which for Americans was crazy early for a Friday and Saturday night. It was pretty humorous to see everyone scramble to find dinner that first Friday night because everything closed as we realized we needed to eat. My roommate and I had an early night and watched bad reality TV shows before going to bed. This was a good choice since the next day was all about exploring a castle and the extra rest was well needed.

Saturday morning had us travelling to Caernarfon Castle. The castle was a cool visit because so much of it was up to individual exploration. We got to walk up the interior walls, and you could reach the top of the castle to see the town. The interior walls were not clearly marked so it was easy to walk right into one without realizing it. There was also an amazing little museum on the history of the Welsh military. I hadn't really thought about how the United Kingdom's military is separated, and it was a nice lesson in the sacrifices and accomplishments the Welsh military have made throughout history.

The castle is an important part of modern history because it is the castle that Prince Charles' investiture was held at. I suppose it was only fitting for the Prince of Wales to have the ceremony in Wales - I actually assumed it was held at Buckingham Palace. The town was also very lovely, and there were plenty of small little stores with engaging shop owners. I ended up wandering through a tiny basement bookstore that only sold books on hiking but the top level of the store sold antique jewelry. This combination made no sense to me but it was fun to explore it!

After our castle visit we continued on to Llanberis.  This town was most known for being a slate mine before it closed in the 1930s. Now the area is a big tourist destination. The mountains look perfect for hiking, just filled with so much potential for adventure in them. I spent a great deal of time in the National Slate Museum. At first, it sounded like one of the worst museums I'd ever have to suffer through, but it turned out to be really interesting. The museum starts with a short film on the history of mining so you understand why it was so important, and from there you can look through various exhibitions and demonstrations.  One of the most entertaining aspects of the visit was a live demonstration on splitting slate. Apparently no machine ever perfectly split slabs of slate as well as a human could, so humans were never outsourced in this aspect of mining. The professional that demonstrated how to split the slate was such an entertainer - he had everyone laughing while also being really impressed with his skill.

After we left Llanberis we returned to Llandudno. The ocean was just as beautiful the second night, and this night everyone was prepared to hunt down food before closing hours. I managed to get a little bit of shopping in (books of course, I can’t help myself!) before having dinner on the beach with friends. It was such a great time, even if those sea gulls were more intense than I was expecting. Plenty of people were very nearly attacked by those massive birds, but we didn't let them kill the fun. And lucky for us, people brought some dogs to the beach later and the birds suddenly had better places to be.

The next day we went to Swallow Falls, which is a massive waterfall that took my breath away. It's amazing how truly gorgeous nature can be sometimes. Everyone took a million pictures and tried to get every view possible. I spent an unreasonable amount of time taking the same pictures over and over again but changing the settings on my camera so it would be in black and white or sepia. I needed this magic in different styles apparently, but I don't even regret it. We then went into the town that is right next to Swallow Falls, Betws-y-Coed. That was a fun little venture mainly because all my group did was find food, and then ice cream (even though it was chilly outside!) and then went to the park. There was a guy with this contraption blowing huge amounts of bubbles all over the park. Mainly for some little kids but he gladly let us college students run around and pop them too. It was just a silly but cute way to end the trip. We all boarded the bus happy and relaxed but glad to get back to Harlaxton. North Wales was just amazing. It was nothing but beautiful sights and wonderful people. I can't wait to go back!

Until next time,

Erika Johnson

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Ireland: My Number 1 Bucket List Country

Hey, Hey, Hey- I'm back keeping you in the loop about Harlaxton Happenings!

After all of us Harlaxton kids endured the Great Unpleasantness of the first British Studies exam, we called upon King Charles II's power of party and celebrated by jet setting across Europe.  From Portugal to Greece to Germany, Harlaxton was everywhere this past weekend. However, I, like many of my other fellow students, hopped on some form of transportation and headed to England's neighbor- Ireland.

Spending the weekend in Ireland was a dream come true for me. Since I was a tiny tot in the second grade, Ireland has been my '#1 Bucket List Country' to visit, so it was crazy surreal to finally be experiencing this beautiful country. My friends (Shelby & Savannah) and I arrived in Dublin on Thursday afternoon, since we chose to travel independently. We made it to our hostel, Abraham's House (totally recommend!) and after a great lunch and a quick nap, we took off exploring the city of Dublin.

The city of Dublin was absolutely gorgeous. I'm not exactly sure how, but Dublin gives off the big city vibe, without the hustle and bustle of a typical big city. I felt like I could actually breathe, which was really nice after a long day of travel, and everybody was so kind. All of the landmarks and historical sites were incredibly close to one another, which allowed you to see a ton of the city in one short night. My friends and I followed the walking tour provided to us by Dr. Green and we had a blast. We saw the Bank of Ireland, the Famine Memorial, the governmental buildings, as well as several cathedrals. But our favorite site was Trinity College. We basically wanted to drop out of school and attend this college because it was so incredibly beautiful.  The architecture was gorgeous and there was green space everywhere. My words can't do Trinity justice, so here are some pictures:

After becoming #OBSESSED with Trinity College, we met up with some of our friends on the school trip for a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was a very good meal, despite the fact the waiter had no idea what alfredo sauce was. All of us spent the night completing the walking tour and ended the night at the Ha'Penny Bridge. This particular bridge was stunning- it was my second favorite site after Trinity College, which is weird because I am terrified of walking bridges at night. The light from the bridge was reflecting perfectly off the water, which meant for really great photo opportunities. 

On Friday morning, Shelby, Savannah, and I hopped on our bright green, free Wi-Fi equipped PaddyWagon to begin our 3-day tour of the Irish countryside. I cannot emphasize how amazing this particular tour was- it was worth every single pound, euro, and dollar spent. We saw so much of Ireland that we normally would not have been able to see on our own due to transportation limitations. Plus, our driver Tony (or as TripAdvisor reviews say, 'Jesus') was the cherry-on-top of our experience. He knew Ireland's history like the back of his hand, sang and played for us traditional Irish music, and stopped in the most random, beautiful places that truly showcased Ireland's beauty.

Our first stop was the village of Cong, which was where the John Wayne film, The Quiet Man, was filmed. I had no idea that we were stopping here, so it was a pleasant surprise when I hopped off the PW and saw an incredibly beautiful, quaint village. There was a peaceful stream running through the village, as well as gorgeous monastery ruins. Plus, we had an incredible day for exploring, as there was nothing but bright blue skies. 

A short distance from the village of Cong, Tony stopped to show us an incredible view of Clew Bay, which is home to 365 islands. I legitimately lost my breath when Tony stopped the PW. The view was so awe-inspiring. The area that we stopped at is also home to a farmer that owns several Connemara ponies, and one of them just trotted right up to us, which was incredibly awesome. After the Clew Bay and Connemara ponies, we stopped at the base of the Twelve Bens, a small mountain chain in western Ireland. Once again, I was just amazed at the diversity of the Irish Countryside. As our last stop of the day, we visited the Quiet Man Bridge, which was a bridge used in the movie I mentioned earlier. There wasn't much to it, but once again, a very pretty view of the Irish countryside. After everyone got their pictures, we all hopped on to the PW and headed into Galway City for the night.

Our night in Galway was filled with a lot of night beach exploring, which was great. We went the long way around to the beach and a kind cop pointed us in the right direction on how to get back because he saw us standing on a street corner and staring at a map. But either way, we made it back and had a wonderful night! We woke up the next morning and made our way to the Cliffs of Moher, which was the highlight of the day. But along the way, we stopped at Dunguaire Castle, which overlooked a gorgeous bay area. So much wow. Tony then took us to some remnants of a church (again, so pretty against at bright blue sky) and we stopped at the "Baby Cliffs of Moher." The Baby Cliffs were just incredible. I was actually able to climb down into a ledge that overlooked the waves, and although I thought I was going to fall to my death any second, I am so glad that I did it because the view of the waves crashing against the rocks was amazing.

I guess that Tony heard our stomachs growling, and we stopped to have lunch about ten minutes away from the Cliffs of Moher. Being cheap, I only had a (delicious) sandwich and some amazing Roast Beef and Irish Stout chips. (Who would have thought that combination would have been good? I’m not sure but I am glad that they did.) Anyway, we headed along to the Cliffs of Moher and I was basically jumping up and down in my seat from excitement. I have been looking forward to seeing the Cliffs of Moher for so long and it was finally happening.

It's so so so hard to describe the Cliffs of Moher because their beauty is basically indescribable. I certainly didn't have any words besides "Wow" when I was there. Just incredible. Shelby, Savannah, and I hiked the right side of the Cliffs because Tony said that is where we would get the best view and he wasn’t lying. The water was a gorgeous blue and the way it was crashing against the gray and green rocks was unbelievable. I walked away incredibly impressed with the Cliffs. Again, I was sure that I was going to fall to my death, but I managed to take a quick peek over the edge and it was well worth the fright. Like before, words will never be able to give the Cliffs of Moher justice so here are some of the pictures I managed to snag:

As with all good things, the Cliffs of Moher had to come to an end, even though I could have spent an entire day there. We jumped onto our PW and headed to Killarney, our resting stop for the night. But before we reached our destination, Tony stopped at a random village along the way to show us some sights. Even though we had to trek through a small field of donkey poo, we got a great view of the town and it was so worth it. Plus, it was a nice spot to get some fresh air and move our legs because we still had quite a ride to Killarney.

Sunday was mainly a travel day to get us back to Dublin, but along the way we made two castle stops. The first was Blarney Castle, so of course the three of us climbed to the top of the castle to kiss the stone. The weather while we were there was less than delightful, so we got soaked waiting to kiss the stone, but had a great time nonetheless. After the stone, we wandered around the grounds and then stopped for lunch where an Indiana woman next to us recognized our Kentucky accents. Although I didn't know this woman personally, it was nice to have a little piece of home with us for a few minutes.

It was an incredibly long drive, but we eventually made it back to Dublin to catch our flight and we said our goodbyes to Tony, Jason from Shangai, and Ebony and Sallie from Australia, all of whom were excellent travelling companions.  Our flight ended up getting delayed, so we were stuck in the airport for about six hours. We didn't make it back to the manor until 2:30 am and I didn't get into bed until after 3 am, so British Studies at 8:30 am was basically awful, but the exhaustion I felt was totally worth the weekend. I had one of the best weekends of my life and made amazing memories with even more amazing people. I am so incredibly and continually blessed by my experience here at Harlaxton!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Day in York

Hello awesome readers!

I'm Erika Johnson, a senior at the University of Evansville. I'm studying political science, and I'll graduate this December, a week after I get home from Harlaxton! I'm an Evansville native and have always thought it was amazing that the University of Evansville had an entire campus in England. England seemed like such a cool place, the home of the Spice Girls and Harry Potter. Actually being here and truly learning what England is like has been such an eye-opening experience. It's not girls running around in Union Jack dresses and secret entrances into magical worlds tucked away between stores. Well, that second might still be true - I’m just too Muggle to notice. But what England really is seems to be a place where history and the modern world coexist completely, leaving a cultural experience like no other.

I say that history and the modern world coexist because historical monuments that date back hundreds of years are still used right next to modern developments. York has walls that encircle a great portion of the city and they date back to about the 12th- 14th centuries. You can still walk on these walls and get a great view of the city. It is amazing to stand on these old walls and see cars speeding by and know that the original architects could never have imagined motor vehicles.

There's so much history crammed into York. York Minster and Clifford's Tower are just amazing to look at. The great thing about visiting these locations after taking British Studies at Harlaxton is that we have the historical background to truly appreciate these locations. I would not have been able to appreciate Clifford's Tower as the military feat it is without that class. The tower is built on a steep mound of land that would tire out armies trying to take it before they even had to tackle the tower itself. The United States of America really does not have such casual history sprinkled throughout, because we really are a young country in comparison. We never had a need for castles and fortresses all over North America so seeing these glimpses of history is amazing.

The view of York Minster from high on the wall was one of my favorites. You can really get a sense of its vastness and splendor from so far away. The city as a whole was just beautifully old fashioned, yet it didn't feel like I was thrown into the past. The streets were busy with people that lived there and blatant tourists, too. The city smelled like something was cooking for the most part, like every store was secretly baking in the back. And then there would be occasional streets that smelled like sewage, and it was randomly awful. Everyone I talked to said the same thing about the smells! But beyond that, it was a pleasant experience.

That view of part of "The Shambles", a busy and exciting stretch of stores in York was another of my favorites. It just had such energy, people leaving York Minster and going to find a coffee bumped into people just leaving work nearby that were grabbing lunch. During my day in York, I also visited the Jorvik Viking Museum, which is a must visit if you have any interest in Viking history at all. It was such a fun and immersive look at a huge part of European history. To be completely honest, my favorite finds were actually bits of home found in new places. I found a fantastic hair store, so I stocked up on some favorite products from home and that was a lifesaver. And then I found the Disney store which made me feel like a kid again, and believe me when I say I wasn’t the only one! Plenty of us that found the store ended up goofing off in there, especially when it got a little cold and rainy outside. 

York was simply a really beautiful place. It was filled with history yet life and I went home completely happy with the experience. England has yet to let me down on providing amazingly beautiful experiences while traveling!

All my best,

Erika Johnson

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 travelers 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