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.