Monday, 8 April 2019

The Art of Adaptability

By: Ellie Tolbert

When thinking about my Harlaxton experience so far, one word specifically pops into my head. That word is adaptability. Now, I could be cliché and tell you the definition of adaptability from the Oxford English Dictionary, or I can tell you what it means to me. I am going to do the latter.
Adaptability means adjusting your views and ways of being to new environments, situations, and people. When you travel throughout Europe every weekend like many of us do here at Harlaxton, that can be very useful. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to adapt to the places I’ve been.

As I mentioned earlier, adapting to new environments is an important thing to learn. Everyone one of us have had to do this a few times. Just coming to England alone was an adjustment we had to make. One small example of this is having to bring reusable shopping bags to the store or paying for plastic bags. While this may have been a nuisance at first, we now instinctively grab our Morrison bags before hopping on the 1:10 shuttle. Another is the subway system in London. I can’t speak for others, but I was terrified to use the Tube at first. With so many people and so many stops, I was sure I would lose my friends and wind up alone in London. Now, I can’t imagine trying to travel around London without it. My ability to “mind the gap” has dramatically increased in the past 3 months.

Adapting to new environments can be especially tricky when that country speaks a different language. So far, I have been to Budapest and Barcelona, and communicating with locals isn’t the easiest task. But as I’ve learned, you make it work. Although our taxi driver did not speak English and I don’t speak Spanish, we showed him the location we needed to get to on our phone and he was able to understand. When in a desperate situation, you can always find a way.

Acknowledging and understanding that need to adapt, I now feel better prepared for many situations. One BIG example of this for me was packing. As someone who loves clothes, I tend to pack approximately 20 times as many clothes as I need. During this study abroad experience, I learned real quick that you can’t fit a lot of clothes in a small, Ryanair-acceptable sized backpack. I now have the ability to make everything I bring on weekend travel count; if I won’t wear or use it, I won’t bring it.

Another situation I feel less worried about is pick pocketing. Maybe its just me, but I’ve never had to worry about pick pocketing before. Now, I am aware of my belongings when I travel. At home, I feel less aware of my surroundings because I am in familiar areas. Here, however, I need to keep a certain level of vigilance. Thankfully, I’ve only learned this from witnessing others getting pick pocketed, not from myself, but it is important all the same.

The final thing I’ve had to learn to adapt to is people. This includes both the locals in other countries and the people at Harlaxton. When 130 students are thrown in a manor together and see each other every day, you quickly have to adapt to different types of people. You live with this group for 4 months, so you don’t want to burn any bridges. Learning to live with people who are different than me has been a vital skill throughout this experience. It has allowed me to not let others ruin my fun, as well as my temper ruining that for others. Sometimes you may travel with someone you think you are going to love, and it turns out you just aren’t that compatible. Sometimes you may travel with someone you were worried you’d hate, but you end up having a great time. THAT’S OKAY!

Travelling is such a unique experience, and you aren’t going to want to do it the same as everyone. Adapting your views to others and, hopefully, others adapting theirs to yours is the best way to not let strong opinions ruin a weekend in Ireland, or Greece, or wherever you may be going.
And although I am writing this like I am some adaptability genius, I still struggle with a lot of cultural difference every day. Some are small things like tipping (which I still haven’t figured out when or when not to do it), avoiding eye contact (because not all countries are as upfront and friendly as Americans), crossing the street (because when the cars drive on the other side of the road, it is easy to accidentally step into traffic), and even doing the peace sign (because apparently the peace sign in

Europe is equivalent to the middle finger). That last one I have a lot of trouble with.
Overall, it is important to learn how to adapt to your surroundings. That skill will take you far in life, in school, jobs, with family, etc. Being at Harlaxton and travelling throughout Europe has allowed me to see my own abilities and has made me a more confident person. It has made me recognise my own habits and beliefs while still respecting the lives of those very different from my own.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019


By: Mara Lowhorn

No matter how much you plan, something will go wrong.  That’s if you’re lucky.  Usually, many things go wrong. 

From getting lost, to being pickpocketed, to delayed flights and missing more trains than I ever thought possible, I have not had a single weekend of travel where everything ran smoothly.  It’s been stressful for sure—not to mention exhausting and expensive—to solve all the problems that have been thrown my way.  At times, it’s discouraging.  It has made planning my travels feel like a daunting and useless task. 

But as I sit here writing this, recovering from yet another weekend where nothing went according to plan, I’m reflecting on the moments of good fortune I’ve had this semester that have stemmed from these mishaps.

My friends and I got lost trying to find Abbey Road in London.  We ended up spending hours on the Tube trying to find our destination, and we almost gave up out of frustration.  However, we finally made it after a kind Underground worker pointed us in the right direction.  When we made it to Abbey Road, we met a fellow American man there who was traveling the world and making a documentary promoting world peace.  If things had gone right and we hadn’t gotten lost, we never would have experienced the kindness of that Tube worker or met that friendly American man.

 My phone got stolen in Barcelona.  After recovering from the initial shock of it, I texted my parents from my friend’s phone to tell them what happened, and I decided I would deal with the rest later.  I lost all my photos from the trip, and of course, the incident kept me and my friends on edge during the rest of our stay in Spain, but it could have been much worse.  I chose to simply be grateful that it wasn’t my wallet or passport and move on.  As bad of a situation as it was, I got to experience the rest of that trip without a phone in front of my face and without the pressure to capture every single moment on camera just for the sake of my Instagram feed.  I got to experience Barcelona as it truly was—a city with pickpockets, gorgeous architecture, and beautiful beaches.

My sister and I were kicked off our overnight train from Prague to Krakow.  After the Czech train conductor got mad at us for having the wrong papers, we were not allowed to board our train.  As we slunk back to the train station in the pouring rain and bitter wind, it sunk in just how terrible our fortune was.  Not only was it an overnight train, meaning that our inability to board meant that we didn’t have a place to sleep that night, but our flights back to London were from Poland.  If we wanted to get back to London without wasting hundreds more dollars, we had to get to Krakow somehow.  Reality setting in, we sucked it up, went to the ticket office, and bought train tickets for first thing the next morning.  After just a few hours’ sleep in a hotel my sister had miraculously booked on her phone, we boarded a train at six in the morning and eventually got to our hotel in Krakow by four in the afternoon.  We were too late to visit Auschwitz as we had originally planned, and we were too exhausted to do anything else.  It was a stressful, frightening, and discouraging trip to say the least.  It’s still a little difficult for me to find the silver lining from this trip after so many things had gone wrong, but I know my sister and I learned the skill of adaptability through it all.  We learned that even if it feels like the end of the world, we could handle what was thrown at us.

The same goes for all of my misadventure-filled trips.  Even if things don’t go as planned, they work out as they’re supposed to, whether that means meeting cool new people, gaining a new perspective, or simply lying on your hotel bed being thankful that things hadn’t gone worse. 

No matter how poorly each weekend goes, I have always ended up back at Harlaxton Manor safe and with an interesting story to tell.  Things might go wrong, but they always end up being okay.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Why Should You Study Abroad?

By: Nicole Carr

When I sat down to write this blog post, I had to decide how I wanted to format it.  Did I want to do a post about my decision-making process, did I want to make it funny, or did I want to go into a long essay? Really, there were a million thoughts about how to approach this. Then, I sat back and thought, what kind of post would I most like to read? Well, the answer to that is one that is short and to the point, but also informative. So, with that in mind, that is exactly what I am going to try and do! There are literally a MILLION reasons that you should study abroad, but to keep it short and sweet, I am simply going to list the top 4 of them for you…

1. You get to travel the world!!!!! I mean, seriously, what else do you need? When you choose to do a study abroad program, you are giving yourself the opportunity to go to countries that you normally might not have ever gotten to go to. Taking weekends to go to other countries and experience all new cultures. You are giving yourself an opportunity to learn so much about other places and to just grow and experience. 

2. You get to meet a TON of new and cool people. One of the best parts of a Study Abroad program is all the new friends that you will get to make. 

3. It looks AMAZING on a resume. Studying abroad while in college allows you to put on your resumne that you are adaptable, have experienced cultures, and know how to interact with all different kinds of people! It can give you an edge over people when you are trying to get a job.

4. And last but not least, it is a life-changing experience. Study Abroad programs force you out of your comfort zone and make you get out there and do things that you normally might not do. They allow you to grow as a person and to learn more about yourself and everyone else around you. It is a time for personal growth and learning. 
Participating in Study Abroad is a chance to expand your knowledge of other cultures and to learn more about yourself at the same time. If you ask me, I think that everyone should be able to participate in this program. 

And not that I’m biased or anything, but I think if you’re going to do one, it needs to be Harlaxton, but I’m just saying…

Well, to keep this short and sweet as I promised, I’m going to wrap this post up by saying one last thing: GO ON A STUDY ABROAD!!! I can personally promise you that you will never regret it!

Monday, 18 March 2019

Anxiety Abroad

Image result for anxiety abroad

By Drew Chittick

Even when it goes right, travelling can be stressful. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 5 March 2019


By: Paul Bone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Bone
Harlaxton Visiting Faculty Spring 2019
Associate Professor University of Evansville

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Must Have Travel Apps

By: Lauren Ward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Having a Home at Harlaxton

By: Krysta Wininger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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