Thursday, 27 October 2011

Saving and Spending at Harlaxton

Money is a pretty big concern for college students, doubly so for the ones who travel abroad. At Harlaxton things get even weirder as students cross currency lines throughout the semester. Right now I’m going to give a few tips on how to save money while you’re here, when you should spend money, and basically what to expect from a student’s point of view.

Thinking ahead is the single biggest way to save money here. Research your destinations. Pick a hotel near an airport, or near the attractions you want to see. Order a packed lunch ahead of time (you’ve already paid for them anyways). Many places have free attractions—find some that interest you. Travel in groups to split some costs, along with staying safe. Get a youth railcard—it will pay for itself if you take one trip by train while you’re here. If you want to go to an airport, ever, you will take that trip.

Saving money is alluring, but there are times when it is not the best option. My experience with Ryanair is pretty much the prime example of this. Ryanair and Easy Jet are the two cheap, inter-Europe airlines that college students frequent. However, I and others have discovered that one reason they are so cheap is that sometimes they fly to an airport an hour or two outside of your actual destination, then charge you for the bus fare to get to civilization. I bought into one of the ten-pound sales for Ryanair, going to Frankfurt this weekend, and ended up paying eighty or ninety in transportation costs.

Another time one should be willing to spend extra cash is when buying a hotel room or hostel bed. This is another place where research comes in. I’ve had friends who paid for their stay in a hostel, and couldn’t last through the night there because of the conditions. Staying safe is worth the money, and being comfortable is sometimes worth it too.

One final time when students should be willing to spend money is on the school trips. It is true that it’s often possible to travel to the same destinations at a better rate than the Harlaxton-sponsored trips. However, the school offers stress-free travel and stops at places you could not otherwise see, such as Hadrian’s Wall on the Scotland trip or Hampton Court on the way back from London. Independent travel is worth it by all means, but it may be worth the peace of mind and lack of stress to let the school occasionally book your hotels and travel.

Scottish-English border, which we stopped at on the Edinburgh trip.
The pound-to-dollar rate is something else Harlaxton students must take into account. Currently, it isn’t in our favor. However, it fluctuates, and the best time to buy is when the pound is at lowest possible value. Students who pay attention to this might go far.

Euros are also frequently encountered in Harlaxton travels. Despite the current unrest concerning the Euro, its value is still relatively high. Also, it is not unheard of for Harlaxton students to travel outside of the Eurozone to countries on other currencies. For example, Morocco uses the Dirham, Russia the Ruble, Poland the Zloty and Sweden the Swedish Franc. The easiest way to acquire these currencies is to pull cash out at the airport. Most people get bank fees for every overseas transaction; getting a lump sum (and storing it in small increments in different places for safety) helps to avoid these fees.

The Business Office at Harlaxton can exchange American dollars for pounds, but keeps no other currencies. Bureaus de Change are readily available, but they will keep a large portion of whatever you give them, and should only be used if you’ve already withdrawn a lot of cash and don’t want to deplete your bank account even more.

One last thing to be aware of is that, in Europe, swipe cards are going out of style. They are being replaced by chip-and-PIN cards for added security. This is usually not an issue but some students have had a hard time paying with their US swipe-style debit or credit card. This is another reason to keep cash on-hand. This is especially easy to do since Harlaxton has a no-fee ATM on campus.

Overall, try not to panic about money. Budget for travel, plan, and research. Know what you're getting into. Decide when being comfortable is worth the money and when it isn't. All of these will go a long way into making your travel more afforable and more pleasant.

-Katelan King

Monday, 24 October 2011

Experiencing Wales in Cardiff

This past weekend, my friends Margie and Miranda (also a fellow blogger) headed off to Cardiff, the capitol city of Wales. The school was headed to Northern Wales, but we decided that we would rather see the city where one of our favorite TV shows, Doctor Who, is filmed, in addition to experiencing the Welsh culture. So, we booked our train for 10 am on Friday morning and, with a quick train switch in Nottingham, settled in for a 3 and a half hour train ride.

We arrived in Wales with a plan- find our hostel, see Cardiff Castle, find some food, and then hike down to the Bay that night, and then hit up a few museums the next day. But, while asking for a food recommendation for the evening, we discovered that the Welsh rugby team was scheduled to play France the next morning at 9 am. We were assured that it was not to be missed. The hostel worker who was helping us even called a local pub that he enjoyed to make sure they would be open for the game in the morning and gave us directions. We were hesitant, mostly because we knew nothing about rugby and had a limited time in the city, but the hostel worker reminded us of something very important- “Don’t spend all your time in museums. You can watch history being made tomorrow.”

We promised to watch the game and headed out. Cardiff Castle was absolutely worth the 9.50 student ticket price. It was the perfect culmination of everything we had studied so far in British Studies. From the Romans to the Normans to Tudors to the Republic- this castle had it all. It was even used as an air raid shelter in World War II! After the castle, we grabbed a bit to eat at a modern pub called Zerodegrees. I had some of the best pizza there that I’ve had the entire trip, in addition to my first taste of beer (if you go to this place, the mango beer is their specialty. That’s what I tried). Finally we were off to the Bay. Not only is the Bay beautiful, but it is also a main filming location for a spin-off show of Doctor Who called Torchwood, so we were excited to see the Tower that is prominently featured in the show. It was a long walk, and, when we arrived, we discovered that the tower and most of the bay were roped off for event prep. Slightly disappointed, we made the most of the pictures that we could get and walked around the chilly bay for a while before heading back to the hostel.

The next morning, we woke up at 8 am to a mass of red outside our window. Our hostel was positioned right next to Millennium Stadium and, even though the game was being played in New Zealand, thousands of fans were gathering in the stadium to watch it on the big screen. We carefully tried to pick out clothes that would at least make us not seem like supporters of France (we had sadly all left our red at home), and grabbed some breakfast before making our way to the pub recommended by our favorite hostel worker. It was only when we arrived that we realized how local this pub was. The name was in Welsh and the TVs were all giving commentary in Welsh, but at least most of the people were speaking English. So we grabbed a spot at the back of the pub and settled in to watch the game.

The atmosphere was electric. Not only was everyone in the place (and probably in the entire city) wearing red, but they were all extremely passionate about their team. And it was infectious. Not even halfway through the game, we found ourselves cheering and booing right along with the locals, even though we often had to guess at what was going on. At one point my friend Margie shouted something about a touchdown, which led to a few strange looks, but no one said anything else about it. Sadly, Wales ended up losing the game 8-9. We carefully snuck out the back of the pub, not wanting to intrude on the national mourning. And mourning it was. We made our way back towards the stadium and everyone that left looked a little down-hearted.

But we decided to continue with our day with some shopping, a visit to the Cardiff Market (well worth the visit), and a stop at the Cardiff National Museum. In the evening, we acquired some food from a local sandwich place and ate at our hostel. The evening was spent experiencing a British cinema for the first time as we saw Tinker, Taylor, Solider, Spy.

The next morning we spent in the park, getting a little homework and some last minute shopping done before another lunch of sandwiches (this time eaten in the park) and catching our train home. Overall, my favorite part about the trip to Cardiff was the rugby game. I’m so glad that we listen to the locals and watched.

Travel Tip: Talk to the people who work at the hostels. They often know what they’re talking about.

Do I recommend Cardiff?: Yes. Whole-heartedly. The Welsh people were very friendly and, even though they are not an independent country, have so much national pride. It’s so interesting to just immerse yourself in. Plus, it’s pretty easy to find your way off the beaten tourist path and into the places that the locals actually go to.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

An Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman Walk Into a Bar

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When asked about travel to Wales, Harlaxton faculty and staff have been in two camps: Don’t mention the rugby and Do mention the rugby. On Saturday, October 15, all I knew about rugby was what I had been told by Ziggy, the shuttle driver: it’s sort of like American football, but without padding, and they don’t stop the clock every twenty seconds. In other words, I knew almost nothing. Nevertheless, I decided I would mention the rugby. In fact, I watched it.

It all started last Wednesday, at about 3:10 pm, when I ventured into town to buy milk. I hadn’t been outside since Sunday night (it can happen when you live in the Manor) and was desperate for a break from my studies, even if it was just to the local Morrisons. Ziggy and I exchanged the usual greetings (me struggling to open the shuttle door, him getting out to help), and he asked if I had any plans for the weekend. “I’m leaving for Cardiff on Friday,” I said. “Do you have any tips?”

“When you get there,” he said, “find a pub to watch the rugby on Saturday. Wales are playing France, and it’s going to be huge.”

So we did. At our hostel, we asked the friendly American at reception to recommend a pub. Pubs weren’t really her area, she said, so she called over “the expert,” a young man wearing a t-shirt with “The Ten Welsh Commandments.” (“1. Worship Sheep.”) He was absently singing along with an Adele song on the radio. “Do you always sing harmony to popular songs?” asked my friend Margie, ever the vocalist.

“It’s a Welsh thing,” he explained. “When we win, there’s gonna be loads of singing.

“This may be an ‘I’m a dumb American’ question,” Margie said, “but do you guys have a separate national anthem?”

They do, which hadn’t even occurred to me, so I guess I’m the dumb American. It’s called “Hen Wlad fy Nhadau” (“The Land of My Fathers”), and he played it for us. ( — sung at Millennium Stadium.) It’s not a march like so many national anthems, and I had a feeling they must be singing about something peaceful. I was partly right. “Basically,” he said, “it means ‘you’ll never get rid of our language, so sod off.’ ”

He told us that tomorrow (Saturday) we should go to a pub called Y Mochyn Du (The Black Pig). “Everyone’ll be talking and singing in Welsh, but they’ll speak English to you,” he assured us. We knew we would be the outsiders, but we decided to go anyway. “You can go to a castle anytime,” he said. “History will be made tomorrow.”

Saturday morning at eight o’clock, we looked out the window at a sea of red. Everyone we could see was heading toward the futuristic Millennium Stadium, which was practically on top of our hostel. But the match wasn’t actually happening there; it was happening in New Zealand, which was why, as our hostel friend said, it was being played “at stupid o’clock.” So that crowd was headed to watch the match on a gigantic TV screen, to cheer and boo and sing in harmony in the company of thousands.

There were people with painted faces and daffodil hats, carrying signs and wearing flags as capes. Walking the opposite direction in our everyday (non-red) clothes, we stuck out more than a little.

At the pub, Y Mochyn Du, we stood in a corner and did our best to cheer when everyone else did. I’m not going to try too hard to explain the match; I really didn’t know what was going on, and anyone who actually cares already knows the whole story, play by play. I was interested in the people. They started out drinking coffee and tea but had switched to beer by the second half. By this time Wales had scored three points (“It’s a field goal!” my friend said), the angry-looking player (captain Sam Warburton) had been taken off the field and looked even angrier, and France had scored six points. All the commentary was in Welsh. Interestingly, most of the people spoke English, and occasionally a guy not far from us would translate the commentary for an Englishwoman who seemed to be his girlfriend. She may not have understood the Welsh, but she watched the game like her life depended on it, clutching her neck when France got close to the goal line and jumping up and down when Wales scored what looked like a touchdown (a try?). It was now 8-9. Wales were only one point behind.

I don’t think it’s possible to understand the electricity of the last twenty-something minutes of that match without standing in a pub in Wales watching it. Quiet was an impossibility. Various people shouted at the screen, and no one seemed to mind, even though they knew it wouldn’t change anything. Every couple of minutes, a man with big ears yelled “Come on, Wales!” in a voice that could have carried across the street.

With a few minutes left, Wales got to make a penalty kick that could win them the game. “I can’t look,” one of my friends said. Many people were shielding their eyes. The English girl was digging her fingernails into her cheek. When the ball soared toward the posts I could tell it was going to go in. We all cheered. We jumped up and down. People hugged each other.

Then came the replay. The ball had gone just under the bar. It was still 8-9. We sighed. We thought we had won.

Wales held on, fighting to score until the very end of the eighty minutes. The man with big ears yelled “Come on, Wales!” several more times. When the clock finally stopped, the pub went silent. The English girl sighed deeply, and her boyfriend put his arms around her shoulders. Suddenly, I could hear every breath, the Welsh from the TV running over it all. Everyone was trying to comprehend that they had lost.

We sneaked out the back door—as my friend Allie said, “trying to avoid all the sadness.” I realized I had a stupid grin on my face. I was at once both thrilled and terribly sorry. History could have been made here, today, and instead it was being made somewhere else. Why was it that I cared so much? I had cheered with these people, jumped up and down with these people, watched with them with bated breath. But I wasn’t one of them. What was it that made me want so much to be a part of this country I had never seen before yesterday?

Part of it, I think, is the Welsh attitude. Rugby was everything in Cardiff that Saturday, but I had a feeling no one was going to go beat up French people. A couple of hours later, the die-hard fans (after, I presume, drowning their sorrows) were back partying in the streets, many of them still wrapped in their Welsh flags. They had lost, but they were celebrating a nobly played game. This picture is one of my favorites from the afternoon. The sign reads “An Englishman, Irishman & Scotsman walk into a bar. The Welshman…still in New Zealand.”

Many went home to mourn, I’m sure. But one of the side effects of identifying a people so closely with a team (“We lost” as opposed to “They lost”) is that what’s important is being a part of it. Being in New Zealand, being at Millennium Stadium, being at the pub—that’s how those supporters made history. Being there was something they would celebrate, and we could celebrate it, too.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Culture in the Manor

One of the biggest points of study abroad is to immerse oneself in local culture. Something I wasn’t expecting was for Harlaxton to make it so easy. I was afraid being in an isolated manor with a bunch of other Americans would create a kind of barrier between us and “Britishness,” but I’ve discovered that only happens if you let it happen.

It seems like at least once a week we have some kind of cultural event. Many are run by locals. So far I’ve learned traditional dances at the Ceilidh, watched a London theatre troupe (including Kevin Spacey) perform Romeo and Juliet in the Great Hall, and participated in a group discussion of politics with Grantham-area MP Nick Boles. Other events have included poetry readings and movie nights, and tonight some clog-dancers are supposed to perform as well.

Supplemental lectures are available some evenings on special British Studies topics. Tours of Grantham and the manor were available in our first weeks. Some weeks highlight the culture of areas we might visit, such as Germany or Spain. During those weeks, the hallways will be decorated with words of the native language, and the refectory will make cultural foods. British Studies takes field trips to several relevant areas of the country throughout the term.

In mentioning culture I can’t forget the Meet-a-Family program. This year it was so popular that we ran out of families to pair people with. This is a fantastic way to connect with real people in Grantham. I’m learning a lot more just by being in their home, eating their food, and talking to them than anything else.

Basically, Harlaxton throws a lot at you. School. Culture. New people and professors. Living in a castle. Driving on the other side of the road. If you allow, they will throw even more at you—and every second will be worth it. Principal Kingsley is living up to his claim that this would be the most intense educational experience of our life to date. I’m just trying to absorb every second.

-Katelan King

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Sveden Ya?

There I was, on a limb, in Sweden. I thought I’d jump out of the norm and take a flight to Stockholm. Why? Dunno really, maybe it was because I read those Dragon Tattoo books. But anyways, here was I, in Stockholm, without a plan or a clue.

The point I’d like to make in this blog is that it’s possible to go somewhere random and out there without an itinerary except your boarding passes. As in my previous blogs, I’d wager it’s the best way to learn and to experience foreign cultures, but also a really easy way to drop a lot of cash and wander around like an idiot in the middle of Stockholm for three days — probably a product of planning the trip late in August.

Things to know: Sweden is on the Kronor — easy, 10 kronor is almost a British Pound. Easy enough to translate. The language, though, was a bit tougher. They mostly speak Swedish, reserving English for schools or learning just enough to take money from tourists. It didn’t pose too many obstacles except when it came to ordering food or asking for directions, but it was manageable. But the thing to really know before you go somewhere is what you’re going to do and where you’re stayin.

I flew in late, just in time to see the sun setting beyond the North Sea, but by the time the shuttle took me from Stansted Airport to Stockholm it was already 8:00pm, not to mention I lost an hour on the flight. Easy, I said, I’ll find a hostel…sounds simple, but the ones I found in walking distance were closed to walk-ins without prior booking. So note, current and future study abroaders, that it is important to book your rooms early! It’ll save you money. So what I ended up doing was asking a cab driver to find me a cheap hotel, which was not too cheap, but a bed’s a bed after 12 hours of shuttles, trains, and planes.

Day two I had one goal — see the Viking museum. Check. Was a nice place, well located and easy to get to…even when its 5c and raining outside. But what then? I wasn’t sure…the tourist place I found wasn’t helpful for day-to-day activities in Stockholm, so I figured I’d go about the town and find my way to a hostel which, while cheap, reminded me of a Motel 6 without any walls.

The next day I did what I did the first full day and walked around, going into the many souvenir shops and seeing what there was to see. Oddly enough, my trip coincided with the New York Rangers playing some pre-season thingy and the Red Hot Chili Peppers — too bad tickets were sold out (for the concert…not hockey). Beyond that there wasn’t much to do for an American in the city.

My flight was to leave Sunday morning at 9am, which seemed like a good idea, until I realized I had to take the 8pm shuttle to the airport to take advantage of my 100 Kronor return ticket. Saved me another hostel/hotel bill, but a night in a small airport isn’t the most comfortable, especially when they shut off the heat and it starts frosting in the Scandinavian tundra. The night was uneventful, but filled with laps around the airport, 8 cups of free coffee, and a two hour nod-off on three fold-up chairs I found.

Enough ranting. I had a good time, saw cool things, and survived. That’s about all you can ask for on an on-the-whim trip. But, next time, I will remember the following…1) check the weather, 2) brainstorm a few viable touristy places to visit, 3) book hostels in advance, 4) bring plenty of cash in case the ATMs don’t take American cards, and 5) bring a friend. No matter how painful it is to plan and compromise trips with other people, it’s hard to call it a trip unless you have more than a few pictures and carved Vikings to show for it. for the picture at the top -- in order to get pictures of not just buildings, but you, it takes skill and craft. You need to find an older couple, preferably with a camera themselves, to take your picture. Don't ask some random kid.

-Brennan Girdler

Monday, 10 October 2011

Ireland: The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Seen

The weekend that I went to Ireland was the weekend that I fell in love…with Ireland, that is. It is seriously the most gorgeous place I have ever been privileged to visit thus far in my travels. Although the school took a trip this same weekend, a few of us decided to go independently-scary thought! Everything turned out perfectly though!

Three girls and I booked a three day Ring of Kerry Paddywagon tour and it turned out seven boys from Harlaxton had also booked the same tour for the same weekend. So altogether there were ten of us from the college. Taking a Paddywagon tour was the best decision we could have possibly made! We barely had to do any planning which took a lot of the stress off of our shoulders. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone. Their advertising says they are the number one tour in the world and I would have to agree.

The first night we got to Dublin and the Paddywagon bus picked us up from the airport and took us to our hostel for free. After getting all settled in, we decided to go check out Dublin. We ended up at a traditional Irish pub that had live music. All we did was sit there, drink a pint, and listen to the music but it was an amazing experience! The music was also traditionally Irish and almost everyone in the pub was very familiar with the songs and were singing along. It was just so great to get to experience some of their culture. Not to mention, I was a huge fan of the music! We went back to the hostel early that night because the paddywagon bus was picking us up bright and early the next morning.

Day 1: The bus picked us up right outside our hostel and we were ready to see the amazing country of Ireland. There were people on our bus from everywhere: Canada, Russia, Australia, China, America (of course), and some English people as well. Our first stop was at Dunquaire Castle where we finally got to get outside and experience the countryside for ourselves. After spending some time there, we loaded back up, and made our way to the Mini Cliffs of Moher, which we thought were the most amazing things we had ever seen until our next stop. The Cliffs of Moher. I have never experienced something so breathtaking in my life. I could not believe that nature made something like this. I took a ton of pictures, but pictures cannot do it justice. One must experience this with their own eyes. That night, our whole tour group stayed at the same hostel that had a pub attached to it. We all ended up hanging out together in the pub that night singing karaoke which was a ton of fun!

Day 2: We spent most of this day along the Atlantic coast. We visited a beach where the water was ice cold. However, all the boys from Harlaxton decided it was a good idea to swim in it. They were brave. I just put my feet in and they were instantly numb. I can’t imagine going fully in the water. Once again, the site was beautiful. We then drove a little more and visited an extremely old church that was made entirely of stone and was smaller than the size of my dorm room. Once again, the countryside out there was gorgeous. That night, we made it to Killarney where we went on a carriage ride through the National Park. It was unbelievable. Even though it was a bit cold and wet, it was totally worth it! There was wildlife everywhere. It amazed me how calm the deer were around people. After the carriage ride, we went back to the hostel, warmed up, and got ready for the night. Our bus driver, Barry, and most of the other people on the tour went out to eat together. It was nice to get to talk to the people from other parts of the world and hear their stories. After dinner, all of us Harlaxton kids met up with some of our friends that were on the school trip and decided to go to some pubs. We ended up at a pub that had the most amazing cover band any of us had ever heard and we decided to stay there for the night. They played music from RHCP to Oasis. We all had a great time.

Day 3: We made the drive to Blarney Castle, climbed all those narrow steps, and kissed the Blarney Stone. According to the legend, I now have the gift of gab. After kissing the stone, we made our way around the gardens and the wishing steps, where we all took turns walking up and down the steps with our eyes closed, making a wish. After the Blarney Castle, we hopped on the bus and made our way back to Dublin. We then got to tour the Guinness Storage House. Although we didn’t get to actually see the brewery, it was still very interesting. We got to learn how Guinness is brewed and how to correctly pour it. Our admission also included a free pint. Although, I’m not a huge fan of Guinness to begin with, I have to admit that it does taste better in Ireland than in America. Unfortunately after that, our Paddywagon tour was over. Our friends from school were also in Dublin that night so we met up with a few of them and found a pub that was putting on quite a show (for free!). We got to see Irish river dancing and some more live music which was amazing. We then made it an early night and caught a cab to the airport where we stayed the night because we had an early flight the next morning.

This was one of the best weekends of my entire life. I would do it again in a heartbeat! However, after a long four day weekend of airports, buses, and hostels it was great to finally be back at the manor!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Getting from Here to There

If, like most students from Harlaxton, you are from the Midwest, you have probably had very little experience with public transportation as a means of travel. I know for me, the only public transportation available in my hometown is a bus system that is often unreliable and a rather scary. My town even has an Amtrak station, a rarity these days, but it is only practical for traveling to Chicago. But coming to Europe introduced me to the realm of public transportation by force.

Having been in England a little more than a month (how time flies!), I’ve experienced just about every form of public transportation. So I’m going to use this blog to give you a quick rundown of what you need to know. We start, of course, with the Harlaxton shuttle.

Some people may not consider the shuttle when they think of public transportation, but I think it deserves a mention. The shuttle runs several times a day Monday-Friday and several times a day on Saturday, though with an altered schedule. On Sunday the shuttle only runs back and forth to church. The biggest resource of the shuttle comes from talking to the drivers. Locals themselves, they know everything from how to find the movie theater to where to find the best food in town to finding that one item on your shopping list that seems to be not in stores anywhere (such as index cards…).

Next we have public buses. This is the one form of transportationn I haven’t really used yet. The shuttle drops you off at the Grantham bus station, so I know there are plenty of buses to take that run around Grantham and to a variety of close cities, such as Lincoln and Nottingham. There are also bus systems that run around most of the tourist cities, but I am content to walk most places. If you have any tips about using buses, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Trains. To me, trains are the quintessential form of transportation around England. They travel quickly (significantly faster than cars) and, in the United Kingdom, can get you to almost any destination. If you invest in a Young Persons Railcard, it will quickly pay for itself. Armed with, you can get almost anywhere in Great Britain. The Grantham train station is small, but you can get connecting trains to many of the bigger stations. If you’ve never traveled by train before, my one tip is that the departure board is your friend. As soon as you get to a station, locate the departure board. Your train will be listed by the time it is set to depart the station and the final destination of the line. This destination will likely not be where you are headed, but that’s ok. When you get to your platform, there will be a list of stations that the train is calling at and your destination should be listed there. The trains are almost always exactly on time (a big change from the American Amtrak…), so be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to be on time. I’ve already traveled to Edinburgh and London by train, and I’m still in love with train travel.

Along the same line as the train, we have the Underground in London. Because London is such a popular destination for Harlaxton students, I feel it deserves its own mention. The Underground is wonderful- you can get from one side of London to the other in around half an hour, depending on how far out you are going. Once you understand the concept of the different lines and how to change lines, the Underground quickly becomes your best friend. One thing you should make sure to be aware of is line closures. As Miranda noted in her most recent London blog, we recently found ourselves facing closures that almost made us miss our train. Luckily, the tubes stops are close enough that we could make it to another one without too much hassle, but it was still annoying. So, before you head into London, make sure to check line closures, especially on weekends. Also, if you are coming this coming spring, be especially on the lookout- the Underground is being upgraded in preparation for the Olympics, resulting in more closures than normal. Even in September, more than half the lines were completely or partially closed for construction work. Other than that, invest in an Oyster card (a huge savings on individual tickets) and make use of the Underground. Though it may be a little bit crowded, it does get you from point A to point B quickly. And you don’t have to navigate the confusing city streets of London.

Finally we come to taxis. I would venture to guess that everyone coming to Harlaxton will take a taxi at least once during their stay. And for many students, this is a new experience. I have taken a taxi twice home from the train station and once to the train station. One tip- if you can call ahead, even a full day ahead, so schedule the taxi, do so. Otherwise, it can take a while for your taxi to get to you and often takes much longer than they tell you it will take. Harlaxton has a deal with a local taxi company that offers a trip to the manor for either 6 or 9 pounds, depending on the time of day. This deal is worth planning ahead to make sure you can get a cab with this company.

I hope this was somewhat informative and gave you an insight into public transport. If you have any more tips or questions, feel free to leave them below!