I never imagined that watching a slide show of portraits of English monarchs, scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry, paintings from the Industrial Revolution, and photographs of momentous events in British history, while listening to Rule Britannia, could make me tear up. In fact, if you told me at another time this semester that I would be sad to leave the last British Studies lecture, I would not have believed it. After 28 lectures, we all know much more about British history than we did when we arrived, but this semester has taught us so much more than that.
We were strangers at orientation, rivals in house competitions, classmates in British Studies, a support system after the attacks in Paris, but most importantly, we are friends who share an experience unlike any other. Spending a semester at Harlaxton is a unique experience in itself, but this semester that we have shared is unlike the semesters before or those to come.
We have learned what it means to be global citizens. We have learned how to think critically about a nation’s identity. We have learned how to plan travel. We have learned to have empathy for other people and cultures. We have traveled and laughed and danced and studied and lived amazing lives this semester.
To think of the sheer number of miles we have collectively traveled is incredible, but we all know that it’s not about how many miles or even where we’ve been. This semester is about the memories we will cherish, the journeys along the way, and the people we have shared them with.
I can vividly remember the first time we all walked through the front door and up the staircase to the Great Hall, to sit underneath a beautiful chandelier in a 19th century manor house. If that isn’t a fairytale, then I don’t know what is. Since then, we have returned on every Sunday night to the same view of our Harlaxton Manor, but something changed about it as the semester went on. Harlaxton became our home, and no matter how badly we may want to go back to America, a part of us will always be here in our home away from home.
Written by: Casey Rice