Monday, 28 March 2016

Dear Last Semester Me

As I am sitting here, typing on my laptop, I have just realized that I have less than a month left at Harlaxton. Even though I miss my friends and family back home, I know that I will also miss my time here in England. From becoming an experienced traveler to creating lasting friendships, I know that I will cherish every memory. It is hard to think that about four months ago I was leaving to study abroad. If I could say anything to prepare myself for this journey of a lifetime, here is what I would say:

Dear Last Semester Me,

You have absolutely no idea just how wonderful this experience will be for you. I understand that you are very nervous to be leaving everything safe and to be studying abroad in an unfamiliar country, but this program is definitely as magical as everyone has stated. You will finally travel to many of the countries that you have dreamt about, and every day will be an adventure. From the very first day, you will make so many new friends, and this beautiful, yet slightly daunting, manor will always welcome you home. This semester is about you, so do everything you have ever desired to accomplish, from trying exotic foods to zip lining. Every single second of every single minute in every single day you will be growing and becoming more independent, so enjoy every moment while you are here. Be confident. Be creative. Be adventurous. Be you.

Much love,

The Person You Have Always Aspired To Be

Here are some more practical pieces of advice from other Harlaxton students:

"On the flight over, make sure you bring two suitcases! You will need all the space, and do not forget your ear plugs and eye mask. You really should start saving, like, two years in advance." - Caroline D.

"SLEEP on the plane ride over, or you'll be dead for the first few days." - Abby B.

"Pay attention to your data, otherwise you'll have a huge unexpected fine. Also, alone time is good, because drama." - Kyle S.

"School will NOT be as easy as everyone says, so be prepared. Oh yeah, stick deodorant is good, too" - Sarah S.


Written by: Jessica Vaughan


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

British Studies Exams - A Timeline

2 weeks before exam: Professors will constantly drop not-so-subtle hints that you should probably start studying for the exam. Crack open North and South, perhaps. (Nah. Sorry, Lizzy Gaskell.)
1 week before exam: Your roommate will inform you that, in exactly one week, you will all be taking your exam. You remind her that she should stop talking because you know where she sleeps.
5 days before exam: You are canoeing in Lake District in blissful denial.
4 days before exam: You are on a charter bus for four hours. You reach into your backpack for your British Studies notes, but accidentally pull out your phone and headphones instead. Oops.
2 days before exam: You make a conscious effort to begin studying. You begin to stress eat – cheese puffs, popcorn, and an entire package of Kinder bars. You copy the notes you took at Southwell workhouse into a word document and reward all ten minutes of your hard work with a nap.
Day before exam, 8:00am: You awaken with a deep sense of melancholy. You groggily arise from the safe confines of your bed and shuffle your way to class. The pit of your stomach is filled with dread. (And all that food you stress ate last night.)
Day before exam, 12:00pm: You and your friends sit around the lunch table, discussing your impending doom. You calculate the lowest grade you can get on this without being deported.

Day before exam, 6:00pm: You half study/half refresh every single social media app you own eighty times.
Day before exam, 7:00pm: You and your roommates decide to get serious about studying. You migrate to the best source available for memorizing facts. YouTube. You Google songs about the Industrial Revolution, finding some professionally produced gems (, stellar class projects (, and the classic: the monarch song (
Day before exam, 7:15pm: As everyone knows, YouTube is a virtual black hole. The site recommends you watch the top ten SpongeBob songs, and you feel obligated to comply. You jam to the Campfire Song and make up an interpretive dance to the Goofy Goober Rock.
Day before exam, 7:30pm: All the dancing made you mighty hungry. You go online and order Chinese food.
Day before exam, 7:40pm: While waiting for your food to be delivered, you and your friends decide to practice analyzing pictures: Queen Victoria and her frighteningly pale family, some crazy dude doing an experiment on a bird, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews chilling in a field, Coalbrookdale by Night, Coalbrookdale by Morning, Iron Bridge by Coalbrookdale, Coalbrookdale the Sequel, and Coalbrookdale 3: More Coals, Brooks, and Dales than Ever Before.
Day before exam, 8:00pm: You prepare by discussing the architecture and layout of Harlaxton. The master of the house created backstairs and secret hallways so the servants couldn't be seen. (Rude.) The carriage house was created as a place to store people's horses. You realize you live in the carriage house and below even the servants. (Ruder.)
Day before exam, 8:30pm: Your glorious Chinese food arrives. You stuff your face with cashew chicken and those little circular rice patties they always give you here. You write down notes about why the 19th century was revolutionary from social and economics standpoints and left some people in the working class even poorer than you after booking your Italy trip.
Day before exam, 10:00pm: You finally have all your notes typed up, which you will use as your study guide. You type some practice essays and complain about how these exams would be so much easier if you were allowed to type your answers instead of writing everything by hand and getting that STUPID INK MARK ON THE SIDE OF YOUR PINKY.
Exam day, 1:00am: You fall into a restless sleep, having nightmares about The Great Fire of London (1666), getting a finger cut off working in the first factory at Cromford Mill (1771), and the worst: forgetting a date on your exam.
Exam day, 7:30am: You wake up to the sounds of birds chirping. Looking out your window, it looks like the weather is nice, but you can't be completely sure, as the tears of fear are clouding your vision.
Exam day, 8:30am: You attend the British Studies recap lecture and seminar. It helps a little. You try to pay attention, but you're thinking alternative life plans such as being a barista at Starbucks, working at a gas station, or finding a rich spouse. (Hey, it worked pretty well for Henry VIII's wives...for a while).
Exam day, 12:00pm: Even though you're getting pretty nauseous at this point, you try to eat some lunch. It's spicy chicken patty day, and spicy chicken patties are the bomb.
Exam day, 1:55pm: You take your seats and get your answer booklet. Your friends ask you what today's date is, and you scream that you don't know because you're trying to remember fifty other dates for the test. (What year even is it? It doesn't matter: just know that Corn Laws were repealed in 1846).
Exam day, 2:00-4:00pm: It's all a blur.
Exam day, 4:02pm: You turn in your exam with sweat on your brow and a throbbing wrist. Did you ace it? Did you fail it? Who knows, and who cares. IT'S OVER.
Written by: Taylor Gates

Monday, 21 March 2016

Lake District: 10/10

A couple of weekends ago, I had the distinct pleasure of going on the Lake District trip with the school, and let me tell ya, it was a breath of fresh air, guys.

I'm talkin' actual, wonderful, mountainous, fresh air.

Travelling to big cities every weekend can wear a human out. (Specifically, this human.) Even though every city is completely different, a lot of city travel is the same wherever you go: subways, busy city centers, museums, castles, cathedrals, etc. Don't get me wrong – I absolutely love it, but Lake District was exactly the spice my travel diet needed.

Lake District is a gorgeous little bit of England, complete with lakes (of course) and mountains and ghylls and gingerbread and villages. All the outdoorsy things you wanna do – you name it, and they've got it.

Now, I know what you may be thinking- "I can do outdoorsy stuff in the States!" Well, yeah, you can go canoeing and mountain biking in Kentucky or Indiana or wherever you're from, but you can visit museums and get lost on public transportation systems in the States, too. Besides, Lake District has so much more, people!

Can you go ghyll scrambling in the States? (NO.) A ghyll is basically a stream on steroids. It flows downhill down a mountainside, and lots of waterfalls and rocks are involved. Ghyll scrambling is pretty much just climbing up a waterfall, and it's exhilarating. The water is lowkey freezing as h*ck, but it's actually okay because you'll definitely lose feeling in your feet after about five minutes in the water and the rest of your body will be burning up because of the intense workout you're getting in. Also, you may find yourself wondering if it's actually safe for you to be doing this, which just adds to the thrill of it all (don't worry – I'm pretty sure the guides are trained and stuff). Ghyll scrambling is a hardcore must-do for most Lake District-goers, and I would highly recommend it. Climbing up a waterfall is probably one of the most accomplishing things a human can do – next to completing British Studies exam (except you don't walk away from the waterfall in despair).

Okay, so how about Grasmere gingerbread? Since Grasmere is actually a place in England, no, you can't get this stuff in America. It's sold at a teeny tiny little gingerbread shop right next to a lil graveyard, and it will shatter all of your current conceptions of gingerbread. Little gingerbread men? LOL, no. People RAVE about this stuff, and if ginger is your thing, then you better buy yourself a 12-pack because you'll love it. (As for myself, let's just say it was an experience.)

Now, what about those English villages??? I'm pretty sure these only exist in England. I could be wrong, TBD. The villages in the Lake District are THE picturesque English village you were imagining before you came to England. They're similar to Harlaxton village, but they actually have stuff to do! (!!!!) Ambleside is where our hostel was located, and it was adorable. There are so many cute, locally-owned shops to check out! Windermere is another great village in the Lake District; it's located about halfway down Lake Windermere so it has a lot going on. Let me tell ya, I betcha didn't think that Lake District could be a place to drop a lot of money in the shops, but some serious shopping was done here.

Of course, we can't forget about the spectacular views that the Lake District as to offer. I'd show you the pictures I took, but the fog was really intense during my visit so my pictures are actually horrible. Google Lake District and check out those images – WHOA BABY. THIS IS A REAL PLACE, AND YOU CAN GO WITH HARLAXTON COLLEGE.

Seriously, guys, 10/10, highly recommend. There's a reason why Lake District is the biggest college-led weekend trip (besides London, of course_ – BECAUSE IT"S AWESOME.


Written by: Lindsey Moore

Monday, 14 March 2016

This is What Dreams are Made of


As I will be returning straight home after this semester at Harlaxton ends, I have less than 6 weeks left in Europe! (I know! I can't believe it's so soon!) For a large chunk of you Harlaxtonians, you have about 7 weeks left because you are visiting the magical country of Italy for a week!! As I am unable to attend this trip, I visited Italy during the first long weekend and am here to offer you a list of tips and tricks that I picked up.

(Note: My group visited Venice for one day and Rome for two.)


By far, the gelato was my favorite part of the trip! It really is as amazing as everyone makes it sound! Over the course of 3 days, we ate gelato 5 times, and it was not nearly enough. Do some research for good gelato places in the area where you'll be staying and visit those. You can also find food blogs that will tell you how to identify a good gelato place from a bad one. The places we went to included Ciamphini, Fatamorgana, and Gelateria del Teatro (this last one was definitely my favorite!).

The most amazing gelato you will ever eat.

2.) Do your research to find good places to eat!

The food in Italy is AH-MAZING!! Because we had a foodie in our group (Megan O'Hearn) we ate at fantastic restaurants basically every day!! One night we had nothing but meat, cheese, and bread, and the taste was indescribable! How they packed so much flavor into the food is beyond me! Another night we ate at a local place that was unknown to many tourists and had the most amazing pasta I've ever tasted! If you take your time to look up and plan good places to eat at, Italy's food will easily by one of your favorite parts of the trip. And even if you don't have time to look up places to eat, take comfort in this: bad Italian pizza is basically the equivalent of good American pizza.

3.) Buy tickets ahead of time.

When we visited the Sistine Chapel, we bought tickets that day online before we left our Airbnb. I cannot say how grateful I am that we did this because when we arrived at the Chapel, the line was unbelievably long! I'm quite certain it would have taken us 3 hours to stand in the line. Instead, we skipped the line entirely and got immediate entrance. No fast pass or anything of the sort was required, just buying our tickets beforehand.

4.) Visit the Trevi Fountain early.

The Trevi is normally PACKED with tourists and this will be especially so when you visit because summer will be starting. To avoid the crowds, wake up early to visit the Trevi! We arrived at the fountain around 7:30/8ish and there were only 3-4 other people there! 

I am sad that I did not meet an attractive
Italian pop star after making my wish.

5.) Research the general customs.

Like most countries, Italy does things differently than others. One thing we noticed while in Italy is that when you arrive at the counter in restaurants, you're expected to know right then and there what you want, even if you haven't been able to see the menu or such. No Italians were rude about it, but it was a general expectation. The worst experience came when we went out for coffee. (Italy is well-known for their coffee and this specific café that we visited did not disappoint!) We didn't realize many glares and expressions of frustrations while we were there. Long story short, try to do research about the places you're going ahead of time.

6.) Don't worry about the language barrier!

Almost all signs are in Italian and English, and everyone we met spoke English, so we didn't have any trouble.

7.) Walking is possible!

Most touristy places in Rome are within walking distance. We did a lot of walking, but it was manageable. If you aren't comfortable with talking that much, Rome does have a subway and bus system. You can buy tickets for an hour or a day, etc. at ticket machines before boarding the bus/subway.

Walking helps burn off all that gelato!

And that about completes the list! Overall, just remember to have an amazing time! This is your last opportunity to travel with friends before you head home to America! And when are you going to get to visit Italy again? Relax and enjoy this time while you can!

Written by: Remington Grenier

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Mountains and Vales of Wales

For many of us students at Harlaxton, the thrill of being in England and having all of Europe at our fingertips is sometimes an overwhelming experience. Before coming to the manor this semester, I was resolute on seeing countries all over the continent and jetting off to foreign and exotic places. My sister, however gave me the advice to take the school trip that was running to North Wales. Being that I have serious youngest child syndrome, I didn't heed her advice as well as I should have in the beginning. The deadline approached for registering for the trip and, on a whim, I decided to go. I went with a few people I had not traveled with before (another fun experience I would recommend). As the trip approached, I found myself in a state that I wouldn't particularly call excitement. A lot of my friends at Harlaxton would be travelling elsewhere or having a rare weekend at the manor. In a fit of FOMO, I almost wanted to back out of the trip. However, once I was on the bus to Wales at the wee hour of 8 in the morning, the excitement finally hit me.

Figure 1: The second most photographed clock
(in commemoration of Queen Victoria) and a
man drawing an exquisite sketch of it.

Our first stop was in Chester (while still in England) so that we could see England's SECOND most
photographed clock and have a look around after eating our sack lunches. First of all, Chester was beautiful and if you're looking for some killer shopping, a miniature train running through a park, an iron bridge, or a riverboat called "Mark Twain", Chester's got you, bruh. There's even a Disney store chock full of children in light up sneakers screaming "Let it go," just in case you were wanting something to remind you of home. Once we were all loaded onto the bus again, we began the drive to Llandudno, a small Welsh coastal town. What was so satisfactory about this little town was the respite it offers from the bustling cities that we all usually visit. However, I would heavily encourage going off the beaten path and finding a small town in Wales by the sea. First off, everything in Wales is SO CHEAP, YA'LL. I literally almost cried tears of happiness when the meal we got for dinner was only 6 pounds and was huge and delicious. I feel I should mention that this was the first trip I took after going to Ireland, where everything was so expensive, I had to consider selling some of my blood in order to survive the rest of the weekend. We stayed at a
hotel called "The Ambassador" that really knew how to give you free breakfast. Every morning, we would come down to a tablecloth dining room and have cereal and juice. Then, a waiter would come around and ask what you would like on your plate (choices include bacon, sausage, 3 types of eggs, tomatoes, toast, beans, and hash browns). And the best part was...It was included in our hotel fee! Our first big day in Wales, the school bused us to see Caernarfon Castle, which, as we all know from British Studies, was one of the largest and most important castles built by Edward I. The castle was amazing and so was the gelato I had right after we left. Dinner in the evenings were almost always cheap, comfortable, and delicious. The next day, however, was really one of the best experiences I think I've ever had. We went to a small town in the region of Snowdonia. The hike we went on was the perfect example of the amazing sights you're supposed to see when you study abroad.

If you look at the picture above, though, you can see an obvious example of how windy it is. There's even a little mini steam engine that takes you around the lake so you can see all the sights. The next day, we went to Swallow Falls before we journeyed home. I'm not sure if the waterfall or the scenic drive there was more beautiful. We saw amazingly large boulders, mountains, rivers, lakes, and valleys. All in all, Wales was absolutely amazing in its scenery and hospitality. While it's a place that can be sometimes overlooked in the excitement of booking larger ticket trips, it should by no means be considered insignificant.

Written by: Sarah Spalding

Monday, 7 March 2016

Whatever: The Classic Response to the Best Advice

"How are you?"
"I'm hungry."
"Hi, Hungry! I'm Tim."

Queue the inevitable groan at one of the most infamous, yet most lovable, "Dad Joke" of all time. While studying abroad, I do not hear those jokes as often, but it always makes me happy when I receive one of those texts from my father. Since it is hard to call my parents sometimes, it is nice to receive those little messages from them. In honor of this past Sunday being the United Kingdom's Mother's Day (sorry Dad0, here is some typical parental advice that will definitely come in handy while studying abroad:

  1. Where are your gloves?  I cannot even begin to count how many times that I chose not to wear gloves when headed somewhere back in the United States. Now, I always make sure to pack my gloves in order to avoid the inevitable dry skin that occurs from exploring a cold city.
  2. Look both ways before crossing the street!  While this one may seem like common sense, you might not see a car coming if you are near a street corner or rushing to catch your plane.  Always take your time because it is definitely better to be cautious than to risk being run over by an angry cyclist.
  3. Oh no – did you forget the keys?  Double-checking all of your belongings, such as your room key, phone, passport, immigration letter, wallet, etc., is especially important since there is that constant threat of being pickpocketed.  Even if you will be slightly behind schedule, always make sure that you have everything important before heading to your next destination.
  4. Mind over matter.  From being constantly tired from school and traveling to finding the willpower to not eat pizza every night, you have to remain diligent in order to remain sane.  With being constantly busy 24/7, it is so easy to procrastinate, especially living in a beautiful manor. Try to be as productive whenever you can, so then you can relax and not get burned out.
  5. Remember: I am always a phone call away.  For me, this is probably the phrase that I think about most since leaving home.  No matter where I am or what I am doing, I know that my parents are always there for me. It is such a comfort knowing that there will always be a touch of home, and I love talking to my parents whenever I can.

Special shout out to all of our parents back in the United States, and Happy (belated?) Mother’s Day!

Written by: Jessica Vaughan

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Harlaxton's Lesser-Known Ghost

Before I even arrived at Harlaxton I heard the ghost stories. As soon as we stepped foot in the manor we were given a guided tour about the ghostly figures that reportedly still haunt Gregory Gregory's golden halls. However, over these past six weeks I’ve realized that there's one ghost that the Harlaxton faculty has refused to acknowledge. His favorite spots to lurk are the dorms, the carriage house, and especially the library. He attacks unsuspecting students with a fear that is almost inescapable. The name of this phantom? FOMO. More commonly known as 'Fear of Missing Out.' He preys upon innocent students in their maroon Harlaxton sweatshirts that are working tirelessly in the library. He destroys all forms of productivity and replaces it with social insecurity. Don't' believe me? Let me provide you with an example of how FOMO usually strikes me. I'll bet my weekly (daily?) bowl of Frosties that you will be able to relate in some way.

First, let's set the scene. I'm in the library. Hair in bun. Highlighters out. Classical music playing. Productivity is flowing like the river Thames itself. Then out of nowhere, FOMO strikes...

Lydia: *attempting to do something productive for class*
Friend: 'Hey Lydia, a bunch of us are going out to the pubs tonight and then coming back to binge-watch Friends, are you in?’
My thought Process: "That sounds fun, but I'm good. I'll just have a nice quiet night in and finish this book for class. I shouldn't go."

"But what if they have a great time?"

"If I don't go I'm going to be here in the library and see all their snapchat stories."

"Hmmmm that will be kind of sad."

"Oh and I bet they're going to get all dressed up...that sounds like so much fun."

"Oh no. What if they all laugh and become BFFs without me?"

"Or WORSE. What if they come up with an inside joke that they keep referencing for the rest of the semester? I'll just have to cluelessly smile every time they bring it up...that will be so sad."

"I should really stu---YEAH OK I'LL COME"

I usually go, have a great time, then end up regretting it the next morning when I feel atrociously behind in class.

Sound familiar? Yup. Thought so.

So how do we banish this ghost from Harlaxton Manor once and for all?
Sadly, we can't. There's no way that we will be able to completely get rid of this social pressure to fit in and be accepted...that just comes with being human!!

What we CAN do is figure out how to manage this ghostly companion and know when to say 'yes' and 'no.' What will this take? Planning, Self-Control, and Discipline. I know, not fun things. BUT, if we want to squeeze every drop out of this study abroad experience, then there has to be some give and take. Instead of falling prey to the crippling FOMO, let's learn to reason with him. Make bargains with him. Believe me guys, I'm still learning how to deal with this voice on my shoulder too. It's annoying, but I'm confident we can persevere and enjoy the social aspect of study abroad AND get 100s on the next two British Studies Exams.

(So what? I'm an optimist?)

Written by: Lydia Anvar