Wednesday, 10 February 2016

10 Dumb Things You’ll Probably Do in England

For many people, Harlaxton was a big factor in deciding what college to go to. And why shouldnt it have been? This study abroad program not only allows you to live in a literal castle for four months, but going from living in the states to living in England sounds like a much tamer, less daunting transition than moving to other places on the map. And for the most part, it is. The food is similar, the weather is comparable, and practically everybody speaks the same basic language.

However, there are more differences than you might initially realize. You may occasionally come across a British phrase or two that will trip you up, and the UK way of doing certain things might blindside you at first. Coming to England presents some challenges, and is an adjustment for sure. Its normal to feel a little lost and silly as a foreigner at firstyoure definitely not alone! Heres a list of ten stupid things youll likely do within your first month here. (Not that Im speaking from experience or anything.)

1.      No matter how many times you learn about pub etiquette, youre going to forget to note your table number before you go up to the counter to order.

2.      Youre going to call biscuits cookies to a cashiers face.

3.      Someone will greet you with, alright? and itll catch you off guard, so youll just awkwardly say hi and give them a little wave.

4.      Youll be slightly surprised when you order fish and chips and french fries come out of the kitchen instead of Lays.

5.      Youll cringe when someone calls it the toilet instead of the restroom or bathroom. (It just feels wrong somehow.)

6.      Youll feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of monarchs you have to know for your first British Studies quiz. This will lead you to go on YouTube to look up songs that will help you remember said kings. You will find one written for children, and you and your roommates will jam to it until you know that song forwards and backwards. (Then King Stephen/its true, check it/Im Henry II/killed Thomas Beckett!)

7.      No matter how many tube maps you look at, youll still
      get off at the wrong stop. (Who knew Abbey Road station
      is different than the Beatles Abbey Road?)
8.      For a millisecond, youll forget that they drive on the left side of the road and be utterly convinced youre going to die in a head-on collision.

9.      Youll say something is fifteen
      dollars first, quickly correct yourself and change
      it to euros, and only then will you remember
      that they actually use pounds in England.

10.  Forgetting that some places in England use military time, youll accidentally book a train ticket for 8 in the morning instead of 8 in the evening. (20:00=8:00.)

And all of these things are okay!

Youre not here to feel smart: youre here to learn. Whats the point of traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of pounds (which is basically millions of dollars with the sad, sad conversion rate) to get the exact same experience you could be having at home?

Even though you might feel a little lost and dumb in a new place, just remember why youre here. You came to Harlaxton College to broaden your horizons and experience new things, and theres nothing stupid about that.
Written by: Taylor Gates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Travel Bug Fever

When I first discovered that I was coming to the United Kingdom and staying here for four months, I knew I was going to travel. I just knew I was. I kept telling myself (and others) that I was going to go here and there and around that corner and around this corner. No matter how much I would spend, no matter where I stayed or how I got there, I was going to quite literally see the world.
Let’s just say, I had the travel bug fever. You know, that fever you get after that nasty little green bug flies on your shoulders and bites you whenever you travel?
Well, this idea was still going through my head once I jumped off the bus at the manor and was still going through my non-travelling American brain once I was on the train to London during that first weekend in the UK. After the first weekend, I began to notice that maybe travelling the world can be a little tiresome, but hey, I’m still going to do it!
This is how that idea began to change over the next couple of trips:
Trip #2, Day Trip to Cambridge: OK, that was fun, but I’m ready to lie down for a bit.
Trip #3, Day Trip to Lincoln: this is for class, but I’m ready to go home… and I just got here.
Trip #4, Day Trip to York: I’m starting to think this wasn’t a good plan.
Trip #5, Day Trip to Nottingham: I wish I didn’t sign up for this.
Trip #6, Day Trip to Stamford: You know what? Forget this. I’m not going.
This past weekend was literally my first weekend since I came to the UK in which the only trips I made were to the restrooms—I’m sorry, toilets—and to the refectory before collapsing in my bed and binging on Clifford the Big Red Dog—that’s right, Clifford. The. Big. Red. Dog—in my Mickey Mouse pajamas with ease.
Oh, don’t worry. That thought of travelling the world is still swishing around in my brain, but now, it’ll have to wait until after I find out about all the fun adventures Clifford and Emily Elizabeth go on with their friends. So, take this lesson into consideration, kids: if you want to go travel, then go travel. Let your little wings soar you into the clouds and hopefully not into an upcoming airplane! But sometimes, the best trip you can take is the one to your bed.

Written by: Titianna Folson

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Stars Hollow of England

Maybe it’s the fact that everyone seems to walk everywhere, such as the Saturday morning markets and the abundance of locally owned shops and cafes, or maybe it’s just the general ‘small but not too small’ vibe about the town. Whatever the reason, I’ve come to this conclusion: Grantham IS the ‘Stars Hollow of England’ (and all the Gilmore Girls fans said "Amen’). While I now love the town that I get to call home for the next four months, I had my reservations before I came. Let’s back up.

When I first decided to come to Harlaxton I was beyond excited. But I will admit it, I was a little bummed that I wasn’t ACTUALLY going to live in London. Living in Grantham sounded kind of lame. I was thinking “Man, I’m just going to spend four months in the English countryside surrounded by sheep and some random village completely isolated from society. Lame.” 

Oh, naïve American Lydia.

Seriously, living in Grantham is such an unexpected perk of the entire Harlaxton experience. So if you’re a possible future Harlaxton student, an alumni reminiscing on your time here, or someone just curious about what everyday life is like, read on. This, my friends, is your go-to guide for making Grantham your new BFF.

1. Take the tours. ALL THE TOURS

If Harlaxton College offers it, go on a historical walking tour of Grantham. A history tour? ‘But Lydia, walking tours are only for super nerdy history people.’ Oh please.

Take a leap of faith and get to know the history of the town. I know it’s the cliché of all clichés, but there literally is history everywhere you look. There are beautiful cathedrals to be photographed and cobblestone streets just begging to be skipped down. Go see Isaac Newton’s old school, the 800 year old books in St. Wulfram’s church, and the mayor’s office. If you’re lucky, you might even have the chance to meet her! 

The oldest buildings in America are, what, maybe 400 years old? The history tour puts into perspective how insignificant American really is in the grand scheme of history. Yeah, it’s a bit of an odd feeling, but incredible nonetheless

2. Buy Random Things You (Don’t) Need


Make sure to try ALL of the Cadbury chocolate
The Isaac Newton Shopping Center has a bunch of super-cheap convenience stores. A neat way to experience British culture in a smaller, but still very important way, is brand testing. I’m serious. Give yourself a small budget and try a new type of makeup, chips, or (my fave) chocolate. Buy a pack of pastries whose name you can’t pronounce and just try it. Poundland, Azda, Superdrug, and Morrison’s are some of my go-to's. Also, the escalator in Azda is like a giant moving sidewalk that's slanted. Get excited.

3. Go Out to Eat!

Just like Star’s Hollow has the beloved Luke’s Diner, Grantham has a slew of cozy places to eat. Friends, you can eat salad in America. Soak up this experience and try new things. Granted, I’ve been in Grantham for less than a month, so my knowledge is a bit limited at this point. However, these are the few gems that I’ve managed to discover over the past few weeks.
When you’re in the midst of an intense travel planning session, or doing some late-night review for British Studies, who you gonna call? No, not Ghost Busters, but good guess. I was thinking more along the lines of Pizza King. BUY ONE GET ONE FREE PIZZAS.  Yes, my friend you read that right. AND they deliver! 10/10 I’d recommend the garlic bread.

Apple Tap. A great cozy atmosphere, cheap prices, and DELICIOUS CIDER. My friends and I discovered this place by accident, and we were very pleasantly surprised. Try the strawberry cider, you’ll thank me later.
The Picture Café. This is THE Luke’s Diner. If eating brunch while surrounded by aesthetically pleasing walls is your cup of tea (pun definitely intended), then I’m sure Café. The Picture will quickly become part of your weekly routine.

(Looks like all the pictures of food that my brother makes fun of me for taking have finally found a use)
Also, the bathrooms have only one faucet! #it’sthelittlethings
So there you have it, my guide to getting to know the sights, smells, and tastes of England’s very own Star’s Hollow—Grantham.
Written by: Lydia Anvar


Monday, 1 February 2016

Take Time

Living in the Manor these past few weeks has been almost as wonderful as all the British chocolate I have thus far consumed. Traipsing through the Gold Room, pretending to be a member of the aristocracy whilst gliding down the cedar staircase, learning how to play a billiards game called “snooker”, and walking through secret doors into rooms just as grand as the one you just left are all activities I have experienced thus far. These activities have given us students no shortage of memories or potential instagram posts. From formal ceremonies set to bagpipe music to buy one get one free Pizza King at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday, every minute here is as much a part of the Harlaxton experience as the next. While it’s been lovely to be able to practically live out my dream of joining the cast of Downton Abbey, there are certain challenges that come with living in this humble abode as well. For starters, bacon here is basically ham. So what do the British call what we think of as good old-fashioned bacon? They call it nothing. Because it doesn’t exist. Now before everyone starts crying, I’m going to move on. 

The Cedar Staircase in Harlaxton Manor

One of the biggest challenges that I have faced and that I’ve heard others mention as well has been the lack of alone time that’s available. We students can sometimes go days where alone time only comes in the form of sleep and other minute daily activities. As a self proclaimed extroverted introvert, I have to have a little while to myself each day to recharge. In addition to leisurely reading for this alone time, I’ve recently taken to running because 1) I’m on a study abroad program in England and there’s much to be explored and 2) all that British chocolate I eat has to go somewhere. I do admit, I’ve never been much of a runner. I’ve always preferred instead to watch The Office on my phone whilst cycling furiously in the comfort of the fitness center at my home university. 

A cat I found on a different Grantham excursion
that I just think is pretty cute and is exemplary of the
host of interesting things to be found in town.


However, I found myself pulling on my
running shoes one crisp afternoon and jogging down the mile long drive that leads from Harlaxton Manor to the front gates. Passing through the guardhouse and over the small river that interrupts the drive, I want to encourage all to take a look back at the manor in the distance. It truly is breathtaking (or maybe that’s just the jogging). Now, you may want to reach the front gates, turn around, run back up the drive, and call it a day with a 2 mile run. Please, don’t do that. Venture down into the village that’s right next to this grand estate and keep on joggin’. What you’ll see is a place so English looking and adorable that it could star in a Jane Austen novel. There’s brick walls lined with ivy, locals out walking their dogs, picturesque schools and children returning home from them (if you’re out at the right time), and a rich history that is waiting to be discovered by YOU. Since it seems to get dark here by about 1pm, I encourage all to make sure that you are out with plenty of light to spare and that you always know which direction the manor is so as to stay safe (and remember to always tell someone that you’re going out on a run or to take a buddy with you!). So, to get you all started I’m going to issue a little to-do list: 1) Lace up those tennis shoes 2) Remember your room keys! 3) Count your blessings that Spotify Premium exists 4) Start your adventure, you can thank me later.

Written by: Sarah Spalding

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Jane Austen's Home

"Everyone likes to go their own
way- to choose their own times and
manner of devotion." - Jane Austen
I arrived in Chawton in a way only Elizabeth Bennett would have approved of. While it wasn’t my petticoat six inches deep in mud, my jeans and boots were covered with dirt, grass and burnt out cigarettes that were discarded along the highway. I was visiting Chawton to see an old friend and by old friend I mean an author born in 1775 whom I’ve read all her novels at least twice over. Currently, I am taking a Jane Austen Seminar at Harlaxton College and this trip was part of a project for the class. Although I would have went to visit Miss Austen’s home even if it was not required.

"We have all a better guide in
ourselves, if we would attend to it, than
any other person can be." - Jane Austen
To get to Chawton, I had to take the London Underground  to Waterloo Train Station and find my way to town which was a three mile walk from Alton Train Station. I did all of this alone. While this may seem like a very scary situation, it wasn't and at parts it was. Like when there was a fight between two men on my train or when my phone died and I had to make it through the London Underground without any contact with my friends. But that's why you come to study abroad; to take trips to new places and to realize you are much more capable than the rest of the world would like you to believe.
"She had a lively, playful
disposition and delighted in everything
ridiculous." - Jane Austen
The point of being abroad is to do something that you aren't use to, to be uncomfortable and even make yourself frightened, but this also brings a different kind of joy. Joy that cannot be expressed by mere words. If we all stayed in our dorm rooms and did nothing you may as well have stayed in America. Don't be weary to travel alone or break away from the friends who have come abroad with you because you'll find you ARE able to survive the London streets, learn how to use a compass and find a new part of yourself that you hadn't the slightest idea existed.

Written by: Skylar Plummer

Monday, 25 January 2016

Livin' it Up in London

Big Ben and Parliament
London is a phenomenal city for many reasons, including the fact that it offers something for everyone. East End has attractions that will appeal to your fun, artsy side. For people interested in history and architecture, the city is crawling with buildings that are as old as and even older than our very own U.S. of A itself. And if you’re a crazy, fan-girl with an obsession for BBC’s Sherlock, London is home to many of the TV show’s frequent film locations, giving you hopeful opportunities to glimpse the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch in action. (No such luck yet.) Visiting the city gives confident credibility to Samuel Johnson’s statement, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

With such a variety of options, it’s easy then to understand traveling alone in London. When first arriving Thursday night for the school trip, I had no intentions of traveling by myself. I did, however, have a list of places I wanted to go, and it didn’t take me long to realize that school excursions and different priorities would prevent me from completing my list if I tried to stay with friends all day. So, I set off Friday morning by myself in what I hoped was the right direction to the Euston tube station. And…everything worked out great! After hearing horror stories of trips gone wrong and receiving countless warnings from my parents not to go off by myself (sorry Mom and Dad) I expected AT LEAST one traumatic event to befall me. During my solo travels, nothing went wrong with the exception of a couple of minor, easily fixable situations on Saturday afternoon/night (Lumiere London, beautiful as it was, inconvenienced more than a few people). I had a wonderful time and got to experience areas of London that I’d only dreamed of going to. Nevertheless, traveling alone anywhere in Europe can be a dangerous and sticky situation.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum
Overall, I’d advise to mix it up. Traveling in groups is fantastic! Despite the fact that I toured the Sherlock Holmes Museum (and got to take a selfie in the great Sherlock’s bedroom) the second day spent traveling by myself in London got a little lonely. From a more practical view, when you’re lost in a large, foreign-speaking city for the first time it’s not quite as nerve racking being clueless when you’ve got three other people to help you solve the problem  (Two heads are better than one!) Be independent and travel by yourself too, but do it safely. Make sure you prepare and don’t jump so far out of your comfort zone that you’re too scared to leave your hostel.

Lastly, I’d like to advise EVERYONE at Harlaxton of this one thing: buy a selfie-stick. Prior to Harlaxton, I thought they were tacky and tasteless, but then I realized just how hard it was to get all of Big Ben and myself into the frame without any help.

Written by: Remington Grenier

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Perceptions of the United Kingdom vs. Reality

Before coming to Harlaxton, there were a lot of things that I thought I knew about the UK. After living here for over 3 months, I’ve learned which of these perceptions were true and which were false.

1. It does NOT rain all of the time.

Although the weather has been dreary recently, it does not rain most days. Sure, it has been cloudy for at least half of the semester, but it is only occasionally accompanied with rain. I had heard that it rains or at least mists in England most days. I’m glad that was a misconception.

2. Potatoes ARE an essential part of every meal.

From chips to hash browns, almost every plate I get from the refectory has included potatoes in some form. I’d been warned about this ahead of time, so it didn’t surprise me that I’d had potatoes for dinner most nights the first week at Harlaxton.

3. Mexican food DOES exist in United Kingdom.

The UK and Ireland do offer Mexican food. The food may not be as authentic as local restaurants in the US, but at least they try. Before arriving in England, I thought Mexican food was the type of ethnic food that I would miss most. Fortunately, I can say that I’ve had a burrito in England. Also, if you were wondering, there are a few Taco Bells in England, but none close to Grantham.

4. England IS diverse.

I thought it would be uncommon to hear American accents on the streets in the UK, but I was mistaken. In London, language and accents vary. Although the city is large, it’s not too difficult to feel at home amongst the multicultural crowd.

5. The United Kingdom is made up of distinct groups of people.

Before British Studies, I didn’t fully understand the connections between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom is not as happily joined as I had thought. Some residents argue for breaking away from the European Union to enhance their national identity. Even Scotland may one day break apart the United Kingdom. Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom isn’t committed to staying together.