Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Living the (British) Life

I feel like I've done it all.

I've mixed myself into the British culture, and it's no longer weird that I'm in England. I can go into Grantham on my own and find the grocery. I can even navigate the grocery itself! It's not strange when I see cars on the left side of the road. I've finally figured out which coins are worth 50p and which are worth 10. I've decided on the fastest ways to class with the least amount of stairs. I've taken a train (successfully, I might add) from London back to Harlaxton all by myself.

And now I've seen a Shakespeare play.

I can go home happy.

As a literature major, I was ecstatic that our Shakespeare class was "required" to go to Stratford. I use the term "required" loosely because I'm almost certain that everyone in the class would gladly go even if it weren't mandatory.

Though I was disappointed with the commercialized look of Stratford-Upon-Avon, I still was overjoyed by the fact that I got to go and walk on the same floors Shakespeare himself did (as well as some really other awesome folks like Tennyson, Emerson, and Twain, to name a few).

(To the right is Shakespeare's Birthplace, or his family home. I was there! I was at Shakespeare's house! I don't care how cheesy it was, it was still really amazing that I was in the same building the Bard himself was!)

 I was a super-tourist and am now the proud owner of not one, but two Shakespeare T-shirts. It's a good thing my friends dragged me out of the store when they did, otherwise I would also own a big mug covered in Shakespearian insults and a few other oddities that I really fell in love with.

(To the left is me with the King Lear statue in the gardens of Nash's House, who was Shakespeare's last descendant - his granddaughter I think. King Lear is my absolute favorite Shakespeare play!)

That night, we saw Measure for Measure, one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays because of its controversial subject matter, in which premarital sex is outlawed, and you can be punishable by death for breaking this law. I absolutely loved it. From the actors to the costumes to the weird S&M-style production, I loved every minute of it. The costumes were modernized, but added so much to the play itself, exhibiting who had power, who was evil, and who the audience should fall in love with. I found myself literally almost falling out of my seat (we were on the second-floor gallery around on stage left, so it was a bit hard to see at times) to see what was going on and how certain characters would react.

After my wonderful experience in Stratford, I truly feel like I've done it all. I've conquered England. I can go home.

Of course, I'm not entirely ready, as I still have Germany and Italy ahead of me that are waiting to be explored. It just feels strange at this point, 5 weeks to the end of the semester, because I am starting to think about America again. How weird it will be for cars to be back on the right side. How I'll have to drive if I want to go anywhere. How (thank goodness) I won't have to calculate currency differences when buying something. It just seems weird that when things will supposedly be going "back to normal," I won't think they're normal at all anymore.

My friends at home wanted me to come home with a British accent. While I don't think that would ever happen (courtesy of my oh-so-stereotypically southern family), maybe I am really starting to assimilate into the culture here. It's very strange and exciting at the same time.

Harlaxton really is becoming home, and it's a place I can come to and collapse in my bed after a long weekend of traveling and feel completely relaxed. It's really wonderful knowing that I have this comfort and this ease in a place that's so far away from southern Indiana.

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