Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Semester to Remember

With less than a week until all students depart Harlaxton I would like to take a little time to talk about what studying abroad at Harlaxton has meant to me.

I was always told that this journey to Harlaxton and my semester abroad was going to be "life changing," yeah, I knew I was going to learn a lot of new things and have a great time but it was not until I was here that I fully understood exactly what everyone meant. However, it is so difficult to explain how life changing it truly is, there are not words to express what this semester has meant to me and only my fellow Haralxton students can understand this sentiment.

When I told family and friends that I was studying abroad for a semester in England but would be attending a school with only American students they seemed rather puzzled and often questioned why I wouldn't just go to a school with English students? This too was a fear I had, but thanks to Harlaxton I have been exposed to the British way of life and will be leaving with a much better understand of the world. Since I am living with only American students I was able to experience all these new things with people who were in the same situation, and because of this I was able to form the strongest of friendships. Let me tell you, it is really difficult to live in one big old house with all your fellow students and professors and not form strong relationships, they see you at your best and they, more than likely, saw you at your not so best. You see these people every single day, you eat with them, you travel with them, you have class with them, you enjoy a pint together, and you become a family. I came into this situation barely knowing anyone, having only met the girls coming over from my school twice before, and was so scared that I would not find a place to fit in at Harlaxton. I have become extremely close to the five other girls that came to Harlaxton with me from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and I am proud to call them my friends and thankful that we get to skip a sorrowful goodbye and, instead, head back to our home campus where we can keep the good times rolling. I have also been blessed with many friends from schools all over the United States, and now I know that I am leaving but will forever and always have my Harlaxton family. Even though we may not be under the same roof or even in the same country, we have had this semester together and that is all we really needed.

I would like to take a moment to extend a few thanks, first off to all those that work at Harlaxton Manor for making this house a home and making living here a pure delight. Next, thank you to all the members of the Student Development Office for putting so much time and effort into ensuring we had competitions, resources, and endless fun this semester.  All the professors and other staff members deserve a great round of applause for all that they did and for being a part of our experience as well. With that being said, I would like to bring attention to the British Studies professors who had to put up with all of these crazy American students this semester. I can honestly say that if it weren't for Dr. Baker, Dr. Bujak, Dr. Green, and Dr. Magennis, this semester would not have been as special and we are leaving brighter and better because of all of you. (Side note: best of luck to Dr. Magennis who will be finishing up her last semester here, Harlaxton was made better because of you and will not be the same without you!) Lastly, I would like to take a moment to thank Dr. Gordon Kingsley for being the best Principal Harlaxton could have ever asked for. On behalf of all the students to ever grace your presence, we thank you for all that you have done, all that you do, and all that you will continue to do! Congratulations on your retirement, Harlaxton will miss you greatly.

I think it has yet to hit me that I only have finals left and less than a week until I am forced to bid adieu to the place that has so comfortably become my home. I am so thankful for everything that I had the opportunity to do and experience during this semester. I am sure that tears will be shed as we drive away from the Manor for the last time, but those tears come because of all the great times that were had here and, although, we will all be sad our time here has finished, we leave knowing that we are better because of Harlaxton and our lives have forever been changed. Thank you, Harlaxton, you have been brilliant.

Lorissa Vanden Hoogen

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

An Adventure in Awe

by: Joy Grace Chen

My stay here in England could, I think, be summed up in one word: awe. The past three and a half months have been a dream that’s almost too good to be true, and every now and then I still pinch myself to make sure it’s real.

Am I really studying abroad in Europe, living in a 19th century English country mansion? Heck, yeah.

Harlaxton itself has held me in a perpetual state of awe. From the moment I first glimpsed it through jetlagged eyes on the way in from Heathrow, from the day I was out for a run and saw its turrets rising from the morning mist like some fairy tale castle. I fell head over heels in love the first time I explored the rooms, painted ceilings, and labyrinths of staircases. Halfway through the semester, when we had to study the manor for our second British Studies exam, I fell in love all over again.
Pan out to England. It’s pretty unbelievably amazing. One of my classes was taught by a professor determined to immerse us in the heart of England’s nature. On our first field trip for that class, we trekked a total of seven miles over the wild, breathtaking moors that inspired the setting for Wuthering Heights. On our second field trip, our walk from Bakewell to Chatsworth brought us up close and personal with an emerald green field populated by baby lambs. Yeah, my feet hated me after both trips, but I wouldn’t trade either experience of quintessential English countryside for anything in the world.
The awe continues for Europe as a whole. I’ve watched the sunrise from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. I’ve taken a cruise on Loch Ness and petted a stag and a highland cow. I’ve wandered the sunlit canals of Amsterdam. I’ve seen Paris in springtime spread out like a tapestry. I’ve visited a Roman fort that has existed for 2,000 years and the Eiffel Tower—an iron lattice relic from the late 19th century.
What is this? Am I dreaming? Why is Europe so beautiful, so awe-inspiring, so perfectly picturesque? I’ve been asking myself these questions since the beginning of the semester, and, while I don’t have the answers yet, I will be eternally thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given just to ask them.
And … in the eloquent words of a guy I've never heard of before: It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.

~Joy Grace