Friday, 30 November 2012

There's More to England Than London

It’s so hard to believe that my semester at Harlaxton is coming to an end. In just 5 days I will leave the manor for the last time to go home. As I look back on my time here I have all of the wonderful memories of the trips that I took and the friends that I made. Before I came to Harlaxton I kept getting asked when I was going to London. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, people at church, friends, and anyone else who happened to know that I was coming would ask me that question. I would smile and politely respond that I was going to GRANTHAM on August 24th. As I went through this I began to realize that many Americans don’t really know anything about England other than London. I would like to use my last blog post in England to share what England means to me and how my semester has shaped that.
                To start with, I should probably share my perceptions of England prior to my time here. For me England has always been simply the country that America ran away from. England was the place of pomp and circumstance and afternoon tea. After living in a beautiful manor house in the English countryside for 3 months, it’s fair to say that that has all changed. Now I see England as a place of history. It is a place where everything I see has more history than my entire country. The things I’ve seen here absolutely blow my mind. I’ve seen castles built by the Normans, forts built by the Romans, and legal documents that predate the United States by several centuries. Living here and seeing the history up close and personal has given me a great sense of what England really is. Still though, there is a difference between what England is and what it means to me.
                First and foremost, England will always mean the community that I’ve lived in here. Taking all of the trips that I’ve taken to see all of the things I’ve seen has been awesome. To be honest though, none of those trips would mean anything without the people I’ve gotten to share them with here. The community at Harlaxton College is the most unique and special group of people I’ve ever gotten to meet. I feel so blessed to have been a part of such an amazing group. When I got here, most of these people were strangers. Now that I’m leaving, they are my family. I love each and every one of them and I will miss them after we’ve gone home. The other thing that England means to me is personal change. While I’ve been here I have gotten involved with so many things that I never would have imagined. At the variety show, I performed on the piano. The thing that most of the crowd didn’t know is that I had never played any musical instrument for an audience before. I also got involved with the Harlaxton players. I ended up acting as Mr. Jackson in our murder mystery. Again I was doing something new as I had not been in any theatrical production since I was in elementary school. Just this week even, I performed with the Harlaxton Players improvisational comedy group. I had never considered myself to be a comedian and had never done comedy for others before. Being at Harlaxton has gotten me out of my shell. Looking back, I think that opening up and sharing my talents (or lack thereof) with my peers has been the best thing that’s happened to me at Harlaxton.
                That’s what England means to me. To all those reading this who have been to Harlaxton: I challenge you to really take a look at what it means to you. It is my deepest hope that England means as much to you as it does to me. To those who’ve never travelled here before: I challenge you to find something that means as much to you as England means to me and cherish that thing or the memory of that thing the way I will cherish my time in England. After living here for 3 months I can definitively state that Harlaxton is and forever will be my English home. To all of the students and staff of Harlaxton fall 2012: you have made my time here worthwhile and for that I thank you. Goodbye Harlaxton, you will always be in my heart.

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