Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Day in York

Hello awesome readers!

I'm Erika Johnson, a senior at the University of Evansville. I'm studying political science, and I'll graduate this December, a week after I get home from Harlaxton! I'm an Evansville native and have always thought it was amazing that the University of Evansville had an entire campus in England. England seemed like such a cool place, the home of the Spice Girls and Harry Potter. Actually being here and truly learning what England is like has been such an eye-opening experience. It's not girls running around in Union Jack dresses and secret entrances into magical worlds tucked away between stores. Well, that second might still be true - I’m just too Muggle to notice. But what England really is seems to be a place where history and the modern world coexist completely, leaving a cultural experience like no other.

I say that history and the modern world coexist because historical monuments that date back hundreds of years are still used right next to modern developments. York has walls that encircle a great portion of the city and they date back to about the 12th- 14th centuries. You can still walk on these walls and get a great view of the city. It is amazing to stand on these old walls and see cars speeding by and know that the original architects could never have imagined motor vehicles.

There's so much history crammed into York. York Minster and Clifford's Tower are just amazing to look at. The great thing about visiting these locations after taking British Studies at Harlaxton is that we have the historical background to truly appreciate these locations. I would not have been able to appreciate Clifford's Tower as the military feat it is without that class. The tower is built on a steep mound of land that would tire out armies trying to take it before they even had to tackle the tower itself. The United States of America really does not have such casual history sprinkled throughout, because we really are a young country in comparison. We never had a need for castles and fortresses all over North America so seeing these glimpses of history is amazing.

The view of York Minster from high on the wall was one of my favorites. You can really get a sense of its vastness and splendor from so far away. The city as a whole was just beautifully old fashioned, yet it didn't feel like I was thrown into the past. The streets were busy with people that lived there and blatant tourists, too. The city smelled like something was cooking for the most part, like every store was secretly baking in the back. And then there would be occasional streets that smelled like sewage, and it was randomly awful. Everyone I talked to said the same thing about the smells! But beyond that, it was a pleasant experience.

That view of part of "The Shambles", a busy and exciting stretch of stores in York was another of my favorites. It just had such energy, people leaving York Minster and going to find a coffee bumped into people just leaving work nearby that were grabbing lunch. During my day in York, I also visited the Jorvik Viking Museum, which is a must visit if you have any interest in Viking history at all. It was such a fun and immersive look at a huge part of European history. To be completely honest, my favorite finds were actually bits of home found in new places. I found a fantastic hair store, so I stocked up on some favorite products from home and that was a lifesaver. And then I found the Disney store which made me feel like a kid again, and believe me when I say I wasn’t the only one! Plenty of us that found the store ended up goofing off in there, especially when it got a little cold and rainy outside. 

York was simply a really beautiful place. It was filled with history yet life and I went home completely happy with the experience. England has yet to let me down on providing amazingly beautiful experiences while traveling!

All my best,

Erika Johnson

Thursday, 11 September 2014

A Weekend in London

Hello, all!

My name is Sydney Rae Davis, and I'm a sophomore from Western Kentucky University studying here at Harlaxton. As a theatre major from a relatively small town, I absolutely adored London. (New York's got my heart, but London’s a pretty close second). If you're wondering what the connection between theatre and London is, the answer is the West End, which is the equivalent of Broadway in New York City. They're both massive and lovely theatre districts in two equally beautiful cities. Since it was my first ever time in London, I decided to see the two shows the West End is best known for: The Phantom of the Opera and The Mousetrap. They also happen to be two of the most iconic shows of all time. And they did not disappoint. Other notable things I did included the Warner Brothers Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Buckingham Palace. Because I like lists, here is everything I did in list format.

What I did:

·         Clubbing in Soho (Definite no-go if you like good music and breathing freely)

·         Warner Brothers Studio Tour- The Making of Harry Potter (So worth the price)
·         Dinner at CafĂ© Rouge
·         The Phantom of the Opera
·         Piccadilly Circus

·         Leicester Square
·         Green Park & Hyde Park
·         Buckingham Palace
·         The Moustrap (Absolutely wonderful)

I would recommend everything I did, minus clubbing in Soho. However, I would advise that Piccadilly Circus is not as big of a deal as I thought it would be. I was imagining something equivalent to Times Square. Not so much the case, but still cool. I do hope to get the chance to go back and check off another travel to do list.

What London taught me:

The importance of
·         Staying at a hotel/hostel with free wifi- Communicating with your fellow travelers and navigating the city becomes a bit of a challenge with no wifi or cellular data. When you book your next stay, make sure the place offers free wifi.
·         Maps- As a child of the iPhone generation, I use my phone for everything. I especially rely on it for navigation, which as I said before, was inaccessible. Thankfully, maps are posted pretty much everywhere around the city. Look for them. Use them! Don't ask five different strangers for directions to one place. Also, it helps to take a picture of the map after you've figured out your route, just in case you forget.
·         The tube- It is so much cheaper than taking a taxi. And there is usually a worker near the entrance to the station who is at least willing if not happy to give you assistance if you don’t know how to get where you want to go. Note: if you call it the subway, you will be corrected.

Well, I hope this post provided you with some idea of what you want to do if you go back or some insight into travel in general. Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

-Sydney Rae Davis

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

First Impressions

Hey y'all!

My name is McKenzie Perdew, and I will be your first blogger of the semester for The Lion's Roar, Harlaxton's student-run blog. I am a junior at Western Kentucky University (located in Bowling Green, KY) where I study Psychology and Communications. That's probably enough about little ole me, because this blog is about my journey to this marvelous manor and all of the first impressions that came along with it!

So, my very first impression of England came when I landed in London Heathrow. Based on stereotypes, I was expecting very rude and unhelpful English workers meandering around the airport. (I know, I know, shame on me.) However, everyone I talked to (which was really only two) was very kind and helpful, even though they could take one whiff and tell that I reeked of American tourist. My airport experience was very simple and pretty easy, although it took me five minutes to figure out how to flush the Heathrow’s toilets. But that's a whole other story.

I like to imagine that I could give you another first impression of the roadways and landscape between London and Grantham, but alas, I was sound asleep on my coach bus. However, a few tidbits of interesting things I learned between my falls into unconsciousness: 

#1: You are required to wear seatbelts on coach buses, something that is not even offered in the States. I was pretty impressed at how seriously they take road safety.
#2: There are literally roundabouts everywhere and they are so efficient. Bowling Green (where my school is) recently got a roundabout on the edge of campus and it was a huge disaster because apparently no one knows how to drive in a circle and read traffic signs properly. Yet, everyone over on this side of the pond drives them flawlessly and effortlessly. For that, I commend the British.

I finally woke up to Owen Sheridan's voice on the microphone telling us that if we looked over to our left, we could see the glorious manor where we would be staying. In that moment, I absolutely fell in love with this place and I couldn't believe that I was staying here for four whole months. I'm not exactly sure how Gregory Gregory managed to do it, but this manor was even more beautiful than all of the pictures WKU gave me and I Google-d combined. Like, I'm talking so gorgeous that a smile creeps across your face, and you don't even know it because you're so awestruck in that moment. It happened to me, and it was hands-down one of the top 5 best moments of my life. I won't even bother to try to describe the architecture because the nicest words I can find will not come close to doing it justice.

As if the exterior of Harlaxton was not enough, staff members led us inside of the building, and I was left dumbfounded once again. We were led in through the front door and up one of the many grand staircases and into the Great Hall. The first thing you notice is this absolutely massively stunning chandelier that hangs from the ceiling. The way it shimmered in the sunlight left me speechless. Once again, I cannot find any words to do this light fixture justice. If you want to come close, think of the most beautiful chandelier you've ever seen and then multiply it by 1,000. Or you can just look at this picture below.

Basically, the interior and exterior of the manor is absolutely stunning. I was completely and totally blown away at the amount of sheer beautiful detail in every single room of the manor house. Harlaxton most definitely made a phenomenal and lasting first impression. Even after being here for a week, I am still finding myself being impressed by the architecture of the manor every time I walk from the Carriage House. Gregory Gregory deserves "Man of the Year" every year for his design of this building.

Although it is hard to move on from talking on end about Harlaxton Manor, the town of Grantham also deserves to get some recognition. On Saturday, the school gave us a lift into town so we could do a little shopping and exploring of our new hometown. After my airport experience with happy, kind, and helpful airport workers, I was hesitant to expect that out of everyone else. (Again, shame on me.) Once again, I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely all of the workers were. A worker from Wilko's (the English equivalent of Walgreen's) took me all over the store to find washcloths, towels, toothpaste, and hair products because I was so insanely clueless about everything there. Another worker helped us with the currency at checkout and congratulated us American students on being able to drink here.

It’s only been a week, but it has been one of the best in my life. Thank you England, Grantham, and Harlaxton for beautiful first impressions.

Stay Lovely,
McKenzie Perdew