Tuesday, 6 September 2011

“It’s just so… English!”

Even though I was running on approximately two hours of terrible plane-sleep, when my plane landed at Heathrow in a steady drizzle of rain I was bouncing out of my seat with excitement. I was finally here. I didn’t encounter any problems making my way through security and customs on this side of the border and before I knew it, I was sitting on a coach for the three hour ride to the manor that will be my home for the next three and a half months.

As we rolled through the English countryside, I was struck by how picturesque everything was. The rolling countryside could have been plucked right off a calendar and stuck on the hills that now surrounded me. I remember, in my sleep-deprived state, turning to someone and whispering “It’s just so… English!”. And while that phrase was born of sleep deprivation, it kept coming to mind as I experienced my first few days at the manor.

The bus, or coach as they call them over here, ride seemed to last forever after an eight hour plane flight, but the view as we drove up to the manor was worth every moment of traveling. You begin to glimpse the manor when you are about five minutes away, but nothing can compare to driving through the front gates for the first time and taking the mile drive up to the manor. Let me tell you, there is not a picture of Harlaxton in existence that does the manor justice. None of the pictures can convey the exact scale of this building and the history that seems to be resting in every nook and cranny (and there seem to be an infinite number of nooks and crannies!). We departed the coach on the front circle and made our way into the manor. The principal of the college greeted us at the door, welcoming us to Harlaxton as we made our way into the beautiful front entryway and up the first of many staircases we would soon discover around the manor. Once again I was struck by how the building seemed to radiate Englishness.

There was a brief welcome ceremony before we experienced our first meal in the refrectory and headed off to find our rooms and begin a weekend full of orientation activities, including beginning to explore the manor. The manor seems impossibly complex upon first inspection. The multitude of staircases lead everywhere but where you want to go and there are rooms tucked into every possible space. If you are a future Harlaxton student, make sure you take the opportunity to explore as soon as you can; you will be glad you did. A few friends and I decided to try and hunt down as many hidden doors as possible. Though we quickly lost count, it was a great way to get to know the manor a little better. And once again, I felt how very English the whole place felt- from the hidden passages to the rooms so ornate that you can hardly even imagine what they must have looked like upon completion to the formal gardens to the side of the manor. And that’s not even beginning to include Grantham, the town about three miles from Harlaxton.

As of now, I have finished my first week of classes and spent a weekend in London. And the feeling of being awestruck at every corner is yet to wear off. But through all the pure ‘Englishness’ of this place, I also feel very at home. The manor has quickly become a place where I feel at home. I am constantly discovering new places in the manor, but it feels comfortable and homely. And I can’t wait to spend the rest of the semester here in my English home.

3 comments:

  1. Glad you are enjoying Harlaxton! Trust me, the feeling will not wear off. I have been back a couple times and it still completely overtakes me. Even the thought, 6 time zones away, brings me back to that wonderfully magic, incredibly epic place.

    Enjoy your time there!

    Joey K, Class of Spring 2007

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  2. Thanks for reminding me of all of the fun we had exploring Harlaxton College on rainy afternoons.
    Have a terrific semester!

    Karen G, Class of fall 1990

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  3. Allie, enjoy exploring your home-away-from-home. There is no place like the Manor; it's magic. Your description brought me back to my first view up the long drive towards Harlaxton and the amazing stairwells, terraces, and cubbyholes.

    Hope you and your fellow students are having the time of your lives!

    Cheers,
    Maria D, Class of 1987-1988

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