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

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