Tuesday, 1 November 2016


Meet-A-Family Experience

                Each semester at Harlaxton, local British families are matched up with students in what is called the “Meet-a-Family” program.  The moment I heard about this, I knew it was something I had to do.  As I am very close with my family in the United States, I knew being away from home for three and a half months was going to be my biggest struggle.  So I filled out the application and wrote a letter to my future “family,” hoping they were as excited to meet me as I was to meet them.
                Once we arrived at Harlaxton, we were given some information about our families; some had previously contacted their students, and others had not.  My friend, Rachel Blair, and I were paired together to share a family, and this was our first time seeing the names of our family, Jo and Pete Frederick.  We were beyond excited to meet them at the Harlaxton Meet-a-Family dinner during our first week of classes!  We dressed up to make a good first impression and saw that our family was one of the first to walk into the Great Hall (We recognized them from the little bit of Facebook stalking we had done!).  As it turned out, they had two kids, Amie, who is seven, and Alex, who is four.  The kids were a bit shy at first but warmed right up to us as the night went on.

                Rachel and I gave the Fredericks our gifts we brought from home; it is encouraged that you bring something for your family that represents where you come from.  I gave them some cinnamon candy that is popular in my hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and a book about Jeffersonville, and Rachel gave them a book of local Kentucky photography.  They really seemed to enjoy the thought we put into our gifts!

                Despite our busy school and travel schedules, Rachel and I have been able to meet up with our family on a few different occasions, for important things like cheese and wine parties and Halloween celebrations!  They even got to meet my parents when they came to visit me, and that was so special.  I absolutely love the Fredericks and the comfort of home they bring.  Even though they live about twenty minutes from Harlaxton, they make time to come pick us up and take us to their house.  Just to be able to get away from the manor and be in a home for a few hours is priceless for me.  It’s fun to compare British and American cultures with them and to learn about the similarities and differences in our lives.  The kids are also oodles of fun!  I’m not around kids very often, so to play games with them and talk to them is always entertaining.

                 I would definitely recommend this program to anyone coming to Harlaxton.  Yes, you have to plan extra time to get together with your family, but it is so worth it.  To be able to meet and get to know British people outside the manor is incredible.  I thought I would meet more British people than I have, but when you aren’t traveling, you’re with other Americans here at the manor.  Unless you go out of your way to meet other people, it’s pretty hard to keep up relationships outside of Harlaxton.  This program gives you that opportunity and that chance to maintain a relationship with incredibly loving families.  As much as I will enjoy going home to my American family, I sure will miss my British family.  Thank you, Jo and Pete (and Amie and Alex), for your amazing hospitality and generosity.  If you ever come to Indiana, just know that you are always welcome in my home!

Written by: Jessica McCormick

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