Monday, 29 February 2016

Stressed is Just Desserts Spelled Backwards

When you imagine someone writing a blog post, what do you picture? Can you see them sitting calmly at their kitchen table, gazing across their laptop into their flowery backyard, blowing on their hot cup of tea, placidly searching their minds for subject ideas? Sounds relaxing and peaceful, right? Oh, if you could see me now! I'm currently sitting on my backup train (yep, I missed my original train and it's possible that I won't make it in time now for my excursion in Wales) writing this last minute blog all the while trying to keep my bladder from exploding because I am too shy to ask the stranger in the seat next to me to move so I can go pee. So peaceful.

Why, you might ask, am I writing this post in such a position? I will tell you why! Stress. It's because I am stressed! My blog post is due today, and though I meant to write it last night before bed, I completely forgot because I am simultaneously suffering from the aftershocks of this past week's chaos and the precursors of this coming week's craziness.

Before coming here, every time I heard about Harlaxton it came with words of praise and celebration (which it rightfully deserves), but no one ever talked about how hard the semester is! People are always willing to share their travel horror stories, but everyone I talked to made the classes and work load sound so easy. Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHAHAHA.


A lot of people's schedules will vary slightly, but this is my general, stress-inducing schedule:
Wake up super early for British Studies or Genetics class (maybe even early enough for breakfast), then go to one or two classes, have a small break (that's too short to actually accomplish anything), then lunch, and another hour-long-too-short-to-get-anything-done break. After that you have another class and (oh yeah!) a 2 hour lab, then it's time for dinner and now dinners done, but you can't take that peaceful hike around the manor because it's nighttime, and then (surprise!) you wanted to get started on your homework. But there's a Gold Room lecture and then a basketball game and come support your house at the House Competition and don't forget to do your weekend checkout! Next you get a text from your sister telling you that the guy back home that you were practically in love with has gotten engaged (still crying) and then your credit card FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON will not go through to buy your train tickets and even though it's 1:30 AM and you want to go to sleep, you still need to shower and WHAT? The British Studies quiz is TOMORROW?!!?!?

Stress. I know everyone knows about it, and I know everyone is feeling it. Stress and sadness and anxiety will always be there. They may go away, but they always come back. But what I hope you remember is that it's the same way for happiness and hope and peace! They may go away for periods of time, but they always come back! You will have bad times, but good times will always be on the way! Don't get bogged down by the troubles of your past and unknowns of your future, but instead choose to live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest!

I now leave you with two inspiring quotes from two very British fandoms!

"It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated..." Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant." The Eleventh Doctor, Doctor Who

I hope that despite any stresses you may encounter, each one of you finds happiness, has a fantastic week, and remembers that stress is just desserts spelled backwards!

Written by: Remington Grenier

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Romance, Waves, & Blue Skies

Trivia Question: Where did America’s favorite Royal couple meet?

Answer: University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland.

This University is not only where William and Kate met, but is known for being one of the most “romantic” colleges in Great Britain. One in every ten students will find the person they will marry at this college. It has almost a mythical reputation for matchmaking. (Maybe I should have studied abroad there). St. Andrews hosts much more than just a romantic college. The city has beautiful, if not cold shores, over a dozen book stores, and even more tea shops. It’s a perfect way to spend a cold afternoon.

Freezing weather did not stop me from running
through the waves with my shoes off.
It shouldn’t stop anyone!
When studying abroad it is so tempting to choose huge trips to partake in, for example, going to London and Bath in England or visiting Rome and Florence in Italy. And of course visiting Paris. Some of the best trips are places that you don’t read about in pamphlets and top ten articles. At first, I wanted to hit all the tourist spots. Every single one. And St. Andrews wasn’t really on that list. I went with the school, not by choice. The best adventures are the ones you don’t plan.  

If there is any advice I can give to anyone studying abroad, it would be this: don’t get so caught up in trying to put stamps in your passport that you forget about the places that are not always on the maps.

Written by: Skylar Plummer

Monday, 22 February 2016

Subways and Train Rides and Flights -- Oh My!

Travel.  That is the most common topic at Harlaxton, whether it is trying to book trips or getting asked about where you are going that weekend.  In case you were wondering, traveling to different countries is just as wonderful and exciting as I have imagined it. From touring London to going on Paddywagon tours in Ireland, every weekend I am excited to see new places, not to mention getting new stamps in my passport!

One of my most memorable adventures so far has been to Berlin, Germany.  My friends and I saw the typical sites, like the Berlin Wall Eastside Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie, which were both very humbling experiences.  However, the one event that I will never forget is the Sunday morning when we were trying to return back to Harlaxton.

Earlier that weekend, we received the subway schedule from our hostel, so we planned to get to the nearest station at 4:30 a.m. in order to make our flight that left around 7.  However, when we got there, we learned that the line that we needed did not start running until 5:30 a.m.  Once we caught the first train, there were several delays at different stations, and we finally made it to the airport with only 30 minutes until our gates closed.  As a result, we had to sprint through the airport, and we made it to our flight with 2 minutes to spare!

Throughout this experience, we all remained calm and worked together in order for us to make it through the airport without losing anybody.  As soon as we boarded the plane, we were so relieved and thankful that we managed to make our flight.  Through this trip, I learned several invaluable life lessons:

1.   Not everything is going to go exactly as planned, so be prepared to be flexible, especially with travel.  Even though we obviously wanted to make the flight, we had a backup plan that would have enabled us to get back to Harlaxton safely.

2.   Calmly deal with every situation.  Panicking in stressful situations will not help, so take deep breaths and try to think rationally.  Even though we were worried, none of us were stressed to the point where we could not function (or maybe it was just a super early morning).

3.   Take every moment, both good and bad, in stride.  All of the great things that happened, like visiting museums, wandering around Berlin, and laughing over dinner, are fantastic memories.  However, Sunday morning, though not the best scenario, was a learning experience that helped prepare us for future situations like this.

While my Berlin trip may have had a slight mishap, it is definitely one of my most memorable experiences so far, and it was definitely a trip to remember!
Written by: Jessica Vaughan

Thursday, 18 February 2016

That One Stage of Culture Shock Where Everything is Irritating

Disclaimer: I don’t hate England. Or Great Britain. The United Kingdom? Whatever the HECK this country is.

When I arrived at Harlaxton a little over a month ago, literally EVERYTHING was exciting. E V E R Y T H I N G. Myself, approximately one month ago:
  • “It’s rainy all the time here? GREAT! I LOVE RAIN.”
  • “I’m living in the carriage house?! This is fantastic! I’ll get to breathe in fresh air everyday!”
  • “Plastic bags cost extra? That’s SO cool, discouraging waste and trying to be environmentally friendly!”

Myself, approximately yesterday:
  • “Why does it literally have to ALWAYS be raining?????? THESE ARE NICE SHOES.”
  • *Walks to the manor, forgets keys, textbook, laptop charger, etc.* “ARE YOU SERIOUS I HAVE TO WALK ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE CARRIAGE HOUSE I HATE THIS SO MUCH”
  • “WHY do I have to pay for a plastic bag?? Why do I have to pay for tap water?? Why do I have to pay to use this restroom?? Why do I have to pay to eat this food in the restaurant?? WHY IS THIS COUNTRY SO EXPENSIVE???”
  • “Honestly, do you have to talk like that?”
Welcome to That One Stage of Culture Shock Where Everything is Irritating. (Seriously, everything.)

I mean, I knew this part of culture shock was a thing. It’s generally the second stage of culture shock, and it’s called something like “rejection” or “frustration.” However, I didn’t think that I would ever actually experience it. I didn’t see how the splendor of the manor and the thrill of life in another country was EVER going to wear off. I thought I was going to whip out my inner-ENFP and be absolutely thrilled for every single second of this semester.

The irritation is REAL, y’all. Underneath all of those annoyingly peppy Instagram and Facebook posts that go on and on about how wonderful and exciting this country is, there is an angsty human who just wants to throw fish and chips in the trash and eat a cheeseburger and copious amounts of sugar, the true American diet.

Because my brain actually leaps at any opportunity to stress itself out, this frustration and irritation has spurred a lot of anxiety on my part. Why am I not having a 10/10 time like everybody else seems to be having? Do I just have a really awful attitude? Why don’t I feel as #blessed as I did at the beginning of the semester? You see, I haven’t exactly enjoyed this negativity and irritation that I’ve been feeling – I’ve done my best to try and suppress it and be the way-too-happy girl that haunts my social media profiles.
I mean, you probably already guessed it – that didn’t end very well.

I am a FEELER, guys. (Read: emotionally unstable.) I have a lot of emotions, and little to none of them can be contained. Therefore, trying to bottle up all my feelings of frustration resulted in a little outburst explosion.

Luckily, I have GREAT friends who are always more than happy to document my breakdowns, and therefore, here is a picture of me, at the Cliffs of Moher, during said breakdown.

I won’t go into details, but this breakdown consisted of me screaming angry things at the weather and proclaiming “I AM IN THAT ONE STAGE OF CULTURE SHOCK WHERE EVERYTHING IS IRRITATING!”

Acceptance, friends. Acceptance.

It took some very nasty winds and a small downpour, but I had finally reached a place where I could acknowledge the stage of culture shock I was in. I mean, maybe I just needed to shout profanities at Mother Nature to make myself feel better, but more than likely, I just needed to accept that these feelings of hostility and frustration towards this country and its culture (and its climate) are normal. They comprise an entire stage of culture shock, which is a very normal thing that most people go through when encountering a new country and culture.

I’m okay, y’all. And if you’re experiencing the same feelings of irritation as me, you’re okay, too. Just because the honeymoon phase of culture shock is over doesn’t mean that we are all doomed to walk around with feelings of hatred for the rest of the semester. Eventually, we’ll come to accept that the weather is simply rainy 24/7 and the British actually like food this bland. We’ll reach a blissful state of biculturalism, and it’ll be GREAT.

Until then, it’s okay to be irrationally angry that the sinks have two separate faucets.

Written by: Lindsey Moore


Monday, 15 February 2016

Finding the Balance

Students here at Harlaxton could all be described as suffering from “overstimulation.”  We eat every meal surrounded by a dozen friends, we exercise together, travel together, and relax together. When we have a moment to ourselves, it is usually spent napping or watching an episode of [insert binge-worthy Netflix show here]. In my thus far limited experience as a Harlaxton student, a very difficult aspect of study abroad is the actual studying part. It’s hard to find the balance between picking out a DVD to watch with all of your new friends or reading about the life of Henry IV. There is always something to do and someone to see and so much that gets in the way of taking the appropriate steps to ensure you keep up with your classes. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list to help in sorting out whether you should be hittin’ the books like King Alfred of Wessex or living it up like its 1499.
  1. Find the perfect study space. It's all too easy to tell ourselves we'll get a lot of studying done in the common rooms or in the bistro on a weeknight. Get to know the manor a little bit and seek out a corner that is all your own for the next couple of months, you'll get much more done.
  2. Set your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode. While those group chats we’ve made with our new friends can be a blast, they can also be very distracting. Before you know it, it has been an hour since you last looked at your notes and all you have to show for it are some very clever remarks in a groupme.
  3. Make the time between your last class and dinner the time that you study the most during the day. You have the flexibility of being finished with your courses for the day, you’re less tired than you would be at 10pm when people are watching movies and playing games, and you have dinner to look forward to later (because there just might be chocolate cake.)
  4. Budget time for travel planning. Booking trips is like a whole other course in itself. If you let them, those travel cites will suck you in for hours as you search for a flight to Spain that doesn’t cost you your right arm and first born child.
  5. If you have a test/quiz/presentation or paper due the next day, try and get it all done before 9pm, when the hot chocolate from the bistro starts flowing and movie watchers come out to play.
Being a student on studying abroad is all about the budget. You budget your time and money almost constantly. Using common sense and knowing when its time to haul yourself off to the library can be an extremely useful skill when it comes to being successful abroad. So go put the “Study” in “Study Abroad” and make me proud.

Written by: Sarah Spalding

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

10 Dumb Things You’ll Probably Do in England

For many people, Harlaxton was a big factor in deciding what college to go to. And why shouldnt it have been? This study abroad program not only allows you to live in a literal castle for four months, but going from living in the states to living in England sounds like a much tamer, less daunting transition than moving to other places on the map. And for the most part, it is. The food is similar, the weather is comparable, and practically everybody speaks the same basic language.

However, there are more differences than you might initially realize. You may occasionally come across a British phrase or two that will trip you up, and the UK way of doing certain things might blindside you at first. Coming to England presents some challenges, and is an adjustment for sure. Its normal to feel a little lost and silly as a foreigner at firstyoure definitely not alone! Heres a list of ten stupid things youll likely do within your first month here. (Not that Im speaking from experience or anything.)

1.      No matter how many times you learn about pub etiquette, youre going to forget to note your table number before you go up to the counter to order.





2.      Youre going to call biscuits cookies to a cashiers face.

3.      Someone will greet you with, alright? and itll catch you off guard, so youll just awkwardly say hi and give them a little wave.

4.      Youll be slightly surprised when you order fish and chips and french fries come out of the kitchen instead of Lays.

5.      Youll cringe when someone calls it the toilet instead of the restroom or bathroom. (It just feels wrong somehow.)

6.      Youll feel completely overwhelmed by the amount of monarchs you have to know for your first British Studies quiz. This will lead you to go on YouTube to look up songs that will help you remember said kings. You will find one written for children, and you and your roommates will jam to it until you know that song forwards and backwards. (Then King Stephen/its true, check it/Im Henry II/killed Thomas Beckett!)

7.      No matter how many tube maps you look at, youll still
      get off at the wrong stop. (Who knew Abbey Road station
      is different than the Beatles Abbey Road?)
8.      For a millisecond, youll forget that they drive on the left side of the road and be utterly convinced youre going to die in a head-on collision.

9.      Youll say something is fifteen
      dollars first, quickly correct yourself and change
      it to euros, and only then will you remember
      that they actually use pounds in England.

10.  Forgetting that some places in England use military time, youll accidentally book a train ticket for 8 in the morning instead of 8 in the evening. (20:00=8:00.)

And all of these things are okay!

Youre not here to feel smart: youre here to learn. Whats the point of traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of pounds (which is basically millions of dollars with the sad, sad conversion rate) to get the exact same experience you could be having at home?

Even though you might feel a little lost and dumb in a new place, just remember why youre here. You came to Harlaxton College to broaden your horizons and experience new things, and theres nothing stupid about that.
Written by: Taylor Gates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Travel Bug Fever

When I first discovered that I was coming to the United Kingdom and staying here for four months, I knew I was going to travel. I just knew I was. I kept telling myself (and others) that I was going to go here and there and around that corner and around this corner. No matter how much I would spend, no matter where I stayed or how I got there, I was going to quite literally see the world.
Let’s just say, I had the travel bug fever. You know, that fever you get after that nasty little green bug flies on your shoulders and bites you whenever you travel?
Well, this idea was still going through my head once I jumped off the bus at the manor and was still going through my non-travelling American brain once I was on the train to London during that first weekend in the UK. After the first weekend, I began to notice that maybe travelling the world can be a little tiresome, but hey, I’m still going to do it!
This is how that idea began to change over the next couple of trips:
Trip #2, Day Trip to Cambridge: OK, that was fun, but I’m ready to lie down for a bit.
Trip #3, Day Trip to Lincoln: this is for class, but I’m ready to go home… and I just got here.
Trip #4, Day Trip to York: I’m starting to think this wasn’t a good plan.
Trip #5, Day Trip to Nottingham: I wish I didn’t sign up for this.
Trip #6, Day Trip to Stamford: You know what? Forget this. I’m not going.
This past weekend was literally my first weekend since I came to the UK in which the only trips I made were to the restrooms—I’m sorry, toilets—and to the refectory before collapsing in my bed and binging on Clifford the Big Red Dog—that’s right, Clifford. The. Big. Red. Dog—in my Mickey Mouse pajamas with ease.
Oh, don’t worry. That thought of travelling the world is still swishing around in my brain, but now, it’ll have to wait until after I find out about all the fun adventures Clifford and Emily Elizabeth go on with their friends. So, take this lesson into consideration, kids: if you want to go travel, then go travel. Let your little wings soar you into the clouds and hopefully not into an upcoming airplane! But sometimes, the best trip you can take is the one to your bed.

Written by: Titianna Folson

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Stars Hollow of England

Maybe it’s the fact that everyone seems to walk everywhere, such as the Saturday morning markets and the abundance of locally owned shops and cafes, or maybe it’s just the general ‘small but not too small’ vibe about the town. Whatever the reason, I’ve come to this conclusion: Grantham IS the ‘Stars Hollow of England’ (and all the Gilmore Girls fans said "Amen’). While I now love the town that I get to call home for the next four months, I had my reservations before I came. Let’s back up.

When I first decided to come to Harlaxton I was beyond excited. But I will admit it, I was a little bummed that I wasn’t ACTUALLY going to live in London. Living in Grantham sounded kind of lame. I was thinking “Man, I’m just going to spend four months in the English countryside surrounded by sheep and some random village completely isolated from society. Lame.” 

Oh, naïve American Lydia.

Seriously, living in Grantham is such an unexpected perk of the entire Harlaxton experience. So if you’re a possible future Harlaxton student, an alumni reminiscing on your time here, or someone just curious about what everyday life is like, read on. This, my friends, is your go-to guide for making Grantham your new BFF.

1. Take the tours. ALL THE TOURS

If Harlaxton College offers it, go on a historical walking tour of Grantham. A history tour? ‘But Lydia, walking tours are only for super nerdy history people.’ Oh please.

Take a leap of faith and get to know the history of the town. I know it’s the cliché of all clichés, but there literally is history everywhere you look. There are beautiful cathedrals to be photographed and cobblestone streets just begging to be skipped down. Go see Isaac Newton’s old school, the 800 year old books in St. Wulfram’s church, and the mayor’s office. If you’re lucky, you might even have the chance to meet her! 

The oldest buildings in America are, what, maybe 400 years old? The history tour puts into perspective how insignificant American really is in the grand scheme of history. Yeah, it’s a bit of an odd feeling, but incredible nonetheless

2. Buy Random Things You (Don’t) Need


Make sure to try ALL of the Cadbury chocolate
The Isaac Newton Shopping Center has a bunch of super-cheap convenience stores. A neat way to experience British culture in a smaller, but still very important way, is brand testing. I’m serious. Give yourself a small budget and try a new type of makeup, chips, or (my fave) chocolate. Buy a pack of pastries whose name you can’t pronounce and just try it. Poundland, Azda, Superdrug, and Morrison’s are some of my go-to's. Also, the escalator in Azda is like a giant moving sidewalk that's slanted. Get excited.

3. Go Out to Eat!

Just like Star’s Hollow has the beloved Luke’s Diner, Grantham has a slew of cozy places to eat. Friends, you can eat salad in America. Soak up this experience and try new things. Granted, I’ve been in Grantham for less than a month, so my knowledge is a bit limited at this point. However, these are the few gems that I’ve managed to discover over the past few weeks.
When you’re in the midst of an intense travel planning session, or doing some late-night review for British Studies, who you gonna call? No, not Ghost Busters, but good guess. I was thinking more along the lines of Pizza King. BUY ONE GET ONE FREE PIZZAS.  Yes, my friend you read that right. AND they deliver! 10/10 I’d recommend the garlic bread.

Apple Tap. A great cozy atmosphere, cheap prices, and DELICIOUS CIDER. My friends and I discovered this place by accident, and we were very pleasantly surprised. Try the strawberry cider, you’ll thank me later.
The Picture Café. This is THE Luke’s Diner. If eating brunch while surrounded by aesthetically pleasing walls is your cup of tea (pun definitely intended), then I’m sure Café. The Picture will quickly become part of your weekly routine.

(Looks like all the pictures of food that my brother makes fun of me for taking have finally found a use)
Also, the bathrooms have only one faucet! #it’sthelittlethings
So there you have it, my guide to getting to know the sights, smells, and tastes of England’s very own Star’s Hollow—Grantham.
Written by: Lydia Anvar


Monday, 1 February 2016

Take Time

Living in the Manor these past few weeks has been almost as wonderful as all the British chocolate I have thus far consumed. Traipsing through the Gold Room, pretending to be a member of the aristocracy whilst gliding down the cedar staircase, learning how to play a billiards game called “snooker”, and walking through secret doors into rooms just as grand as the one you just left are all activities I have experienced thus far. These activities have given us students no shortage of memories or potential instagram posts. From formal ceremonies set to bagpipe music to buy one get one free Pizza King at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday, every minute here is as much a part of the Harlaxton experience as the next. While it’s been lovely to be able to practically live out my dream of joining the cast of Downton Abbey, there are certain challenges that come with living in this humble abode as well. For starters, bacon here is basically ham. So what do the British call what we think of as good old-fashioned bacon? They call it nothing. Because it doesn’t exist. Now before everyone starts crying, I’m going to move on. 

The Cedar Staircase in Harlaxton Manor

One of the biggest challenges that I have faced and that I’ve heard others mention as well has been the lack of alone time that’s available. We students can sometimes go days where alone time only comes in the form of sleep and other minute daily activities. As a self proclaimed extroverted introvert, I have to have a little while to myself each day to recharge. In addition to leisurely reading for this alone time, I’ve recently taken to running because 1) I’m on a study abroad program in England and there’s much to be explored and 2) all that British chocolate I eat has to go somewhere. I do admit, I’ve never been much of a runner. I’ve always preferred instead to watch The Office on my phone whilst cycling furiously in the comfort of the fitness center at my home university. 

A cat I found on a different Grantham excursion
that I just think is pretty cute and is exemplary of the
host of interesting things to be found in town.


However, I found myself pulling on my
running shoes one crisp afternoon and jogging down the mile long drive that leads from Harlaxton Manor to the front gates. Passing through the guardhouse and over the small river that interrupts the drive, I want to encourage all to take a look back at the manor in the distance. It truly is breathtaking (or maybe that’s just the jogging). Now, you may want to reach the front gates, turn around, run back up the drive, and call it a day with a 2 mile run. Please, don’t do that. Venture down into the village that’s right next to this grand estate and keep on joggin’. What you’ll see is a place so English looking and adorable that it could star in a Jane Austen novel. There’s brick walls lined with ivy, locals out walking their dogs, picturesque schools and children returning home from them (if you’re out at the right time), and a rich history that is waiting to be discovered by YOU. Since it seems to get dark here by about 1pm, I encourage all to make sure that you are out with plenty of light to spare and that you always know which direction the manor is so as to stay safe (and remember to always tell someone that you’re going out on a run or to take a buddy with you!). So, to get you all started I’m going to issue a little to-do list: 1) Lace up those tennis shoes 2) Remember your room keys! 3) Count your blessings that Spotify Premium exists 4) Start your adventure, you can thank me later.

Written by: Sarah Spalding