Friday, 2 June 2017

From Students to Employees: What it’s Like Being a Harlaxton Student Development Intern

Nolan Miles, Spring 2017 Media Coordinator Intern



 (Pictured: Spring 2017 Harlaxton Interns. Left to right: Meg Melbourne, Nolan Miles, Ashley Manka)

Coming to Harlaxton College as a student is a rare and wonderful opportunity. Coming to Harlaxton twice is unheard of. However, for the current Harlaxton College Student Development Office interns, it’s a reality. Three former students, myself included, dreamed of the opportunity to step foot and immerse themselves yet again in the world that is Harlaxton. Weekend trips to Paris and Barcelona, living life in a grand Manor, and enjoying the English culture are experiences that many would say are irresistible. And while us interns soak up the little time we have left at the Manor, we quickly realized that being a student and being an intern are very different experiences.

“It’s so different in so many ways,” said Meg Melbourne, current student activities intern. “After arriving it took me awhile to mentally let go of my semester as a student — to let go of the expectation of seeing my friends around the Manor, but, it’s helped me embrace this semester in an entirely new and positive way.”

One of the biggest things that we have learned serving as the Spring 2017 interns is that we are part of a core team that helps shape the Harlaxton experience for the current students. It’s both a terrifying and thrilling thing — To aid in the development of what will be one of the best semesters of the student’s lives.

“There wasn’t a moment as a Harlaxton student that I didn’t remember the interns being involved,” said Ashley Manka, student activities intern. “I loved the idea of getting to enrich the experience of future Harlaxton students. There was something alluring about the idea of never having a single day be like the day before — It was blatantly obvious that this internship required not only flexibility, but demanded variability.”

Don’t be fooled by our enthusiasm, however. Living in a beautiful Manor in the English countryside is no walk in the park. To be honest, it’s a time-consuming and stressful job. Thirty-five-hour work weeks don’t exist — It’s more like 60 hours a week. We live where we work, so we’re never “out of the office.” With only a four-person student development team, we all have to handle emergencies and responsibilities that we are unfamiliar with. We live life without any expectation of what tomorrow looks like.

“It can be hard having ‘no’ days off,” said Meg. “We have some, but we’re always with students and coworkers for evening and weekend events. Sometimes you just want to sleep in on a Friday or take time to go into town alone on the weekends”

Despite the uncertainty of our job, the constant change in plans and randomly assigned tasks, none of us would change the experience we’ve had serving as the Harlaxton Spring 2017 interns. We have created bonds with the students, the employees and the building itself. We have invested the past six months of our life to a place that once gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Yet, here we are having another one.

“Something I believe to be true of any place is, ‘the people make the place,’” said Ashley. “From day one I have met nothing but the nicest and most genuinely caring individuals at Harlaxton. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the hard work and continued kindness the staff have shown me and many others.”

So the question remains: Which Harlaxton experience was better? When we were students or while we are interns? For Meg and Ashley, they both say it’s hard to tell because they are very different experiences. And I would have to agree. However, as a student I didn’t know what to expect coming to Harlaxton. As an intern coming back I was prepared for another brief, life-changing experience. I was fully aware to soak up every moment with the students, every task of my job and every nook and cranny of the Manor. So as our time at Harlaxton comes to a final close, fully knowing we will never live here again, I am grateful for having taken advantage of my Harlaxton 2.0 experience by absorbing every second of my time in our “forever home.”


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

Isaac Martin (Spring 2017)


... And we like it that way!
Lake District was an adventure.  It was an adventure in the fullest sense of the word, “an unusual and exciting or daring experience,” and let me tell you, Lake District did not disappoint.  It was unusual in the sense that it didn’t include site-seeing within the cities, or finding cool museum tours or looking at old buildings as you walk down old cobble-stoned streets.  Instead of walking out of the hostel and onto a busy street, we walked out to find nothing but a beautiful vista of the calmest, most peaceful lake I have ever laid eyes upon.  It truly was sensational.  After letting calmness rush over you, you see the mountain break through the fog behind the lake and you realize that you’re about to climb it.  This is the excitement the Lake District promises.  As you approach the mountain you can’t help but notice the countless streams and creeks, all of various sizes, running off the mountain and into the still lake.  Then it hits you – tomorrow you’re going ghyll scrambling and you’ll dare to walk (you’ll later learn that means wading) up one of those streams.
In all my years spent outdoors, hiking and whatnot, my favorite times have been the ones where I have a starting point, an ending point, and a vague idea of where I want to be in the middle without having a strict path to follow or reason to rush.  The best times for me are just spent doing what I love most-- exploring.  What a better way to experience the Lake District than simply crawling up the side of the mountain, abandoning the scattered paths through the hills, and simply seeing what you can see. 
There are definite perks to walking off the beaten path; new discoveries, better views, and a stronger sense of adventure. However, it doesn’t come without its difficulties.  Out of such difficulties, games were made.  What games, you might ask?  The ones were everyone in the group agreed that whoever fell over from slipping in the mud the most lost.  We went so far as to define the rules of playing and what exactly constitutes a “fall”.  We mostly followed the NFL rules for what is ruled a tackle (any body part besides the feet or hands touching the ground is considered down).  And after consideration we included a “tripping” clause that if anyone was determined to have tripped or deliberately pushed another down would have said person’s fall attributed to the pusher’s score.  The goal was to keep your score low so as to not lose the game.
Ten miles later, the final score-line amongst us nine friends was 2-2-2-1-1-1-1-0-0.  The three-way tie was never broken and all three “2-pointers” were determined to be co-losers.  It was random games like this that contributed to seemingly random exploration being one of my favorite activities of the Lake District.  This game also helped me to realize that sometimes in life you’re going to fall down, but while you’re at it, have some fun with it!
One of the most interesting parts of the hike itself was that each time we saw a hill we thought to ourselves, “Surely, if we can just get to the top of this hill, we can take a break on top.”  A great mindset in theory.  However, as in life, there’s always another hill to climb.  The Lake District has no shortage of climbs to be had, and it’s important to just keep putting one foot in front of the other because the view from the top was worth it every time.  After hours of false-summits we finally reached the top of one mountain, marked by the stone column informing us of our measly 1100 feet climb (by far the smallest summit in the area).
 Another favorite adventure from the Lake District was ghyll scrambling.  Something I hadn’t heard of until signing up for activities through Harlaxton, I had no idea what to expect out of this.  The easiest way to describe what ghyll scrambling actually is would be to have you imagine the coldest water you can think of being acceptable to get into, and then imagine colder but going in anyways.  Now imagine that said water is moving swiftly down a sizeable mountain creek.  Add a helmet for safety, shoes with some good grip, and now get in that creek and start walking (or crawling, rather) upstream. 
Ghyll scrambling taught me a few things.  First and foremost, it taught me that it’s okay to accept that you have physical limitations and that some people will just flat out be more inclined to do things that you just can’t.  Ghyll scrambling involves a lot of finger strength, body control, and sometimes you just won’t be able to reach the same hand holds as everyone else.  That leads me to the next ghyll scrambling lesson: creativity.  Just because you can’t use the same handholds or path that someone else used doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution for you.  Use creativity to find a way for you to make your own path amidst the current trying to sweep you away.  Lastly, via various deeper pools of water along the route, I learned to take the jump.  You only have one chance to ghyll scramble with this group of people, on this creek, with conditions like this.  Don’t not jump simply to save yourself from feeling a little cold.  Jump in the freezing cold water and make a fool of yourself.  Life doesn’t offer do-overs.

This adventure truly was all about the journey, not the destination. And more than that, it was about the lessons learned, disguised as fun and games that stick with me through the memories.  From learning to have fun with it when you fall down, putting one foot in front of another until the view takes your breath away, accepting what you can do, creatively finding a way around what you can’t, or taking the jump into that cold water because you don’t know if you’ll ever have the chance to do it again, Lake District imparted me with stunning views and important reminders.






Thursday, 16 March 2017

Finding the Perfect Balance: Harlaxton College Edition

By Megan Taylor (Spring 2017)


Finding the right balance between schoolwork and travelling can be difficult while at Harlaxton. The goal is to get that 4.0 but also to live out our dreams of travelling the world. Fear not! There can be that perfect balance and yes, you can find it!
To start off, knowing what type of learner you are is very important! My first semester, one of my professors made everyone take an online quiz to see what type of learner we all were, and I cannot thank her enough. I encourage you to find a test online to see what kind of learner you are; visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Knowing how you learn will also help you get to know yourself a little better. It is always good to know what makes you most comfortable and what works for you.
Going along with learning styles and knowing yourself, knowing if you need more time to study versus maybe not needing as much time is important. There is nothing wrong with travelling every weekend, but the British Studies course that is required of all Harlaxton students is tough and it can be overwhelming. I know that depending on the style of class how much time I need to allot every week for schoolwork. Because I allot time throughout the week, I allow myself to have the weekend free so I can travel. I have talked to some students who are at Harlaxton this semester and they agreed. Balancing schoolwork and travel can be hard and overwhelming but once you find what works for you, you will breeze through the semester.


Another piece of the puzzle to finding your perfect balance is self-care. I cannot express enough how important it is to eat well, exercise (if that’s not your cup of tea, walk up to the 500s corridor it will get your heart pumping!), drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. I have also been given the advice to take a weekend to stay at the manor once every month to 6 weeks. Course load at Harlaxton is said to be lighter, but I am finding that midterm semester is still a pretty heavy week. It is okay to stay back if that is what you need to catch up on schoolwork or just to relax.


As the halfway point is approaching, I am realizing that part of the Harlaxton experience is really getting the opportunity to know yourself. This is key to not only making your experience at Harlaxton what you want to get out of this opportunity, but to find the perfect balance between schoolwork and travelling for you. 


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Coping with Anxiety Abroad

By Sari Baum (Spring 2017)


As I looked out the bus window on the way into the city I felt we had made a mistake. Years of communist rule had turned what was once picturesque Latvian suburbs into a graveyard of boarded up apartment complexes with cast iron balconies hanging from the buildings windows like loose teeth. To some people we were traveling off the edge of the map as Riga is a city that’s fame has been smothered by a tragic history of occupation. The destitution we were witnessing was amplified by my “high-functioning” anxiety.
I stayed silent for most of the twenty minute bus ride into the center of the city. Our sleepless night made it easy to claim exhaustion as the cause of my quiet mood rather than a panic attack. But slowly Riga unveiled its beauty and suddenly we were in a blooming city center framed by eclectic Art Nouveau architecture and barren trees drenched in twinkling blue lights. It was a quiet fairy tale none of us were expecting.
Once in Old Town we agreed to search for food and as we ambled along I touched each of my fingers one at a time to my thumb, hoping that the repetitive motion would keep me calm. We walked towards a bakery, following some locals who we figured knew where to find the most authentic food. The bakery had pastries filling the windows; little Christmas cakes covered in powered sugar and traditional heart shaped gingerbread cookies decorated with piped icing lace. The women behind the counter were patient as we tried to point to what we wanted to order and helped us count out our money on the counter. I ordered something familiar to me, poppy seed cake, because I find that food has a way of making me feel at home. It connects you with the culture around you and each bite gets you closer to figuring out your place in all of it. The four of us took an exhausted selfie together, capturing the moment before enjoying our first round of baked goods (we came back again the next day). But that picture also captured the moment my anxiety began to dissipate and the tense feeling in my stomach was replaced with the scrumptious fruitiness of poppy seeds.



Later that night we befriended two girls at our hostel and decided to go out. You haven’t truly visited Riga until you’ve experienced its nightlife. With this decision to skip going to bed my anxiety intensified. But buried beneath the worry that everything could go wrong I realized I was excited. Walking into the club was like stumbling onto the set of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Dense air, the jiggling of change as it’s exchanged for shots, and distorted visions of people dancing beneath frantic strobe lights. The environment was abstract and yet my travel companions had already become a comfort to me and that was enough. We stayed out until four in the morning, wandering around Old Town trying not to trip on the cobblestones and watching people as they staggered home singing drunken lullabies. All day the city had been quiet, almost reserved. But at night the city was revived, and its people seemed acutely aware of the need to live unapologetically. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Harlaxton ABC's

By Kelly Nixon (Spring 2017)

A is for adventure, ASDA, and afternoons. No matter where you go or what you do here it's an adventure. From getting lost exploring in the afternoon or perusing the candy isle at ASDA, everything is exciting and fun. 

B is for British Studies, the six-credit hour course everyone takes. The amount of Henry's, Edward's, and Thomas's will make you lose your mind. 

C is for cathedrals, castles, and city centers. Europe is full of both the old and new. You never find yourself short of old cathedrals and castles to visit more often than not right at or near the modern, bustling city center.





D is for double-decker buses, dancing, and dreams come true. Whether you get to ride a double-decker bus for the first time or spend your time dancing the night away at the Ceilidh, being at Harlaxton and all of the firsts it provides is a dream come true!


E is for embrace. Embrace the changes; embrace all that's different. Take it all in. Jump into the different countries and cultures. It's fun, it's different, it's exciting! Also embrace your mistakes- so what if you took a wrong turn or messed up when tying to figure out military time. It's all part of a semester abroad.



F is for friends that turn into family and fun. You spend every hour with the same people, your group of friends that become your family as you both have fun exploring, discovering, and facing challenges and hard times.



G is for Gregory Gregory and Grantham. Thanks to a man named Gregory Gregory. You built an amazing and unique manor house in Grantham that would become the home of hundreds of Harlaxton study abroad students. Grantham is a town that’s not too big, yet not too small. It's not only home to ASDA and the magical Poundland but also The Gregory and The Goose. 



H is for Harlaxton of course! You're British home away from home. The manor house that you love so much, never want to leave, and rejoice in returning to every Sunday night.


I is for independence, a skill you learn and/or refine here. While the school keeps an eye on us and where we're going, they let us go and spread our wings. We make mistakes, miss trains, and have to fend for ourselves. It's all part of the experience, and it makes us stronger, smarter, and more independent people. We learn that yes, we can do it. 

J is for the journey, not the destination. Being at Harlaxton is all about taking a couple of wrong turns on the way to where you're going. It's about taking pleasure in the process and not hurrying up to get somewhere. It's about stopping to smell the roses, pet the dogs, and taking detours because "oohhh that looks neat!" It's not about making sure you see every tourist attraction and every museum, but instead is about making sure you see the city and the country and the little things that make them unique. 

K is for kings and the Royal Family. They are kind of a big deal- especially from the viewpoint of the American since we don't have royalty at home. Also, you learn all about the monarchy in British Studies. 

L is for languages. With all the different countries you visit come different cultures and languages. Try to communicate; try to understand them! The natives will appreciate your attempt and you'll find that even with barriers you can still get your point across. You might just also properly learn a word or two. 

M is for management; management of time and of finances. We learn to balance study and travel and how to keep and stick to a budget. This is in my opinion one of the most important (and serious) things you will learn this semester. 

N is for naps. Travel is exhausting and the coaches can and will put you and everybody else to sleep. No matter how hard you try to hold your eyes open, I guarantee that you're going to wake up an hour or two slumped against your neighbor who is probably also asleep or waking up since it's just about time for you to be pulling into the Manor's drive. 


O is for old. Coming from the US, a baby when it comes to countries, I was shocked at just how old some things are. The history here is amazing. 

P is for passport, your most important document. Don't lose it! Your passport allows you to travel from country to country. It's the first thing that gets packed, and it tells the story of your adventures though its pages of many stamps. 

Q is questions. Here there is no such thing as a stupid question- well okay there are stupid questions, many of them. Don't be shy, ask them anyway. Everything here is new and different and you're going to want to know the what's and why's of it all. Trust me, you’re not going to sound like an idiot- this is coming from the girl who asked "how do you (the British) keep all of the hedges flat and even on top?" 

R is for rain. It rains so much here! When you go outside you should always be prepared lest you get stuck in the afternoon drizzle. That is unless you adopt my motto- "I'll dry". 

S is for study; yes study the "real" reason you came this semester. It also stands for stairs and sheep. The amount of stairs you climb in the Manor is insane, especially if, like me, you live in the 500s. Also while here, sheep may become one of your favorite animals, whether from visiting them while walking the trails around Harlaxton or gazing at them from the train in Scotland. 


T is for transportation. Whether by plane, train, or automobile, you can get just about anywhere here in Europe. It's crazy that you can hop on a train and be in another country in two or three hours. The planes here are also really inexpensive (compared to US) standards, making travel not only easy but pretty cheap too.


U is for the United Kingdom. What more can I say? England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. Yes, it's different from Britain, and no I didn't know that before coming but I sure do now! 

V is for video-calling home. FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger video chat, it really doesn't matter when you just need to talk to your mom (or your dog). Whether you just want to tell everyone back at home about your weekend trip or you are feeling homesick, video calls are the best thing ever. Just keep the time difference in mind when trying to schedule them. 


W is for walking... everywhere. Your feet are two of the best forms of transportation here. Not only do you get exercise (more than you every thought you would this semester) but you also see parts of cities and towns that you would miss taking other forms of transportation. 




X is for (e)xperience and (e)xploration. This semester is one of the greatest experiences you will ever have. Words do not do justice when trying to describe this semester. You do things you never believed you could or would do. You try new things and explore new places, and become a better person because of it. 

Y is for yes! This is the semester of "yes!" It is the semester of trying new things and not saying no. It is the enthusiasm of the adventure and a learning curve, too. It is saying "yes" to new people, new places, and a new you.  


Z is for zoom- how time just seems to fly! One day you're just arriving and the next you're asking where the semester went. We're about half of the way through the semester now and I swear it's only been a few days! Like, didn't we just get here?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Misadventures in Birmingham

Or How I Survived 7 Uncomfortable Situations in 26 hours
Shelby Preston, Spring 2017

This weekend, I went to Birmingham with my friends. The plan was to meet up with my friend’s relatives, who live in the city. We were strikingly unorganized for this trip, so I wasn’t expecting much--which was a good thing, considering how unexpected the trip turned out to be.

There are seven Uncomfortable Situations in this list: three of them include trains, one includes a taxi driver, two include alcohol, and one involves the repercussions of being Americans in Europe, which comes with uncomfortable-ness on its own.

Situation 1.                       The first situation began while we were on the first train--a good omen for the rest of our trip, honestly. Here, we learned for the first time that while tourists are best to remain quiet and respectful on trains, English people can do what they want on them. We desperately tried to use headphones to block out the sound of the very drunk, very loud, very English girls sitting by us. Headphones don’t work for this purpose.
Situation 2.                       The second situation also takes place on a train, but it’s much more exciting. We switched trains at Nottingham; and, about halfway through, as we were all settled down and ready to finally reach Birmingham, heard the train voice offering us another fantastic omen for our trip--“There has been a fire on the tracks at the Birmingham station. All riders need to get off here.” We found our replacement train, though--after walking around for about fifteen minutes asking anyone in a yellow vest where to go and getting completely different answers each time. The fun part is that these two experiences happened on my first train ride ever.
Situation 3.                        Finally--FINALLY--we made it to the Birmingham train station. We got a taxi, gave him the address to the place, and settled down, again, for the trip. This being my first ride in an English taxi, I wasn’t expecting the driver to suddenly inform us that he couldn’t find the address; and I most definitely wasn’t expecting his solution to this problem to be “I’ll drop you off here and you can walk around and find it.” In other words, four female American tourists, holding luggage and using our phones as maps, were wandering around at 10 p.m on a Friday night on the back roads of the second biggest city in England. Don’t tell my parents.
Situation 4.                       The interesting part of the weekend actually begins here. We met up with my friend’s family, her cousin, who took us to the flat that we were going to be staying in for the weekend. He then gave us an offer: he would take us out to an “authentic Birmingham pub” and buy us drinks. We didn’t understand the gravity of this offer, at least not at the time. This man was a...drinking enthusiast, and he liked the people he was with to be drinking enthusiasts, too; this meant rounds and rounds of alcohol were being served to us. Don’t want another drink? Sorry. Haven’t finished your first? Too bad. This did not bode well for me and my three American friends, as none of us had had a real taste for alcohol yet.
Situation 5.                       Luckily, we all managed to survive this; we all were able to get out of his insistence on continuing to buy us drinks. However, we were not able to get out of his insistence on getting us an authentic English serving of chips to take back to the flat with us. Back at the flat, we luckily found a way to insult all of England by determining that this enormous serving of chips was subpar to American fast food fries. We apologize, England; please don’t send us home.
Situation 6.                       The next day, we went out to dinner with my friend’s family--about 12 people total. They were fascinated with us, as were we with them; but the questions were more answered than asked on our part, because if anyone was going to talk, we’d rather it be someone with a British accent. This is when the dinner became uncomfortable. We managed to both break some of the American stereotypes they had...and to confirm some of them.
                        Things we reassured them about:
1.      No, we are not diehard Trump supporters; no, we did not watch the inauguration with popcorn and sodas
2.      No, sorority life at UE is not like sororities in the movies
3.      No, not all Americans are used to warm weather and are dying slowly in this England cold (just some of us).
Things we, unfortunately, left them with:
1.      Yes, of course Taco Bell and White Castle are all Americans’ favorite restaurants, and they are definitely authentic American cuisine
2.      Yes, we are perfectly comfortable being hugged and kissed on the cheek by every member of your family
3.      Yes, of course we are going to go out and party tonight; sleeping and Netflix were in no way the original agenda
Situation 7.                       On the way home, we encountered the last and possibly most scarring Uncomfortable Situation: the train at 9pm on a Saturday night. A train full of drunks sat right behind us. We prayed they wouldn’t be loud; and then they started singing. We prayed they wouldn’t be messy; and then they spilled an entire beer in the aisle and stared at it until someone expertly offered, “We spilled that.” And we prayed they would get off at one of the many stops before we reached Grantham--at ANY of the 5 other options--and then we heard a slurred “Is this Grantham?” “No, it’s not Grantham!” “Well, how long ‘til Grantham?” and so on (with some other choice insults, naturally). We did escape, eventually, to enjoy another--luckily uneventful--cab ride back to the manor.  



All of these situations made the trip to Birmingham very...colorful. Despite the unplanned parts, of being scared for our lives and whatnot, we did manage to see some beautiful sites in Birmingham--this lovely statue of a bull, for example, with whom we posed on the notion of “Oh, it looks cool, let’s get a picture with it” This reasoning is similar to how we explored the Birmingham city center, and how we’ve explored and gotten lost in most places we’ve traveled so far.


The best part of traveling to Birmingham wasn’t experiencing so many things. It wasn’t casually pretending that we felt uncomfortable accepting free food and cab rides from my friend’s family; it wasn’t getting more experience in dissecting heavily accented British sentences; and it wasn’t even the fact that every British person we meet that finds out we spent a weekend in Birmingham repeats “Birmingham?” with shock, even though that’s been my favorite part so far. I suppose I will say that the best part of Birmingham was getting to explore it with my friends.

Monday, 20 February 2017

From Kid to Classmate: My Harlaxton Experience, 2.0


Anna Siewers, Fall 2012 (Harlaxton 'Kid') & Spring 2017 (Harlaxton Student) 


Almost two months has passed since the Spring 2017 class of Harlaxton College arrived at our new home in Grantham, England. Many of my favorite moments so far have been the number of ‘firsts’ that my classmates and I have encountered— first time in a new country, first time living away from home and family, first time planning independent excursions, and of course, first experience living in a beautiful manor home on the English countryside.

However, my first experience living here is a little different than most. It actually occurred a little over four years ago, during the fall of 2012. And instead of attending Harlaxton as a college student, I was a Harlaxton "kid." My father, a professor at Western Kentucky University, had applied for and accepted a position as a faculty member for a semester at Harlaxton College. This meant that not only my dad, but my mom, younger sister, and I packed up our lives (at least, as much as we could fit in a few suitcases) and headed to England for four months. 

Of course, that experience was quite different from the one I'm having now. Instead of the renovated servant's quarters that I'm currently calling home, my family and I lived in two spacious rooms on the Blue Corridor that were just about as ornate as the fancy state rooms that I now attend class in. My mom, our resident travel agent, planned all our weekend trips for our family. So, just like the rest of my classmates, I am most definitely learning one weekend at a time how to see all of Europe in a semester without going broke.

The transition from family life in America to family life abroad was not necessarily easy. My dad was traveling for his job, so he simply had to acquire a work visa (easy enough, right?). My mom took four months off her work for our travels, and my sister and I (aged 12 and 15 at the time) enrolled in all-girls public school in Grantham. Before this, we were the type of kids who had gone to school with the exact same people since kindergarten. So, naturally, a school with uniforms, a bi-weekly block schedule, houses (think Harry Potter), no boys, and not a single familiar face caused just a little bit of a culture shock.

 Don't get me wrong, though, I wouldn't trade my semester at Walton Girls' High School for the world. As soon as it was discovered that my sister and I were American, we were asked about a million and a half questions each day for the remainder of our time there. 

"Do you live in California? How long does it take to drive there?" (this question was always followed with looks of disbelief when I answered.)
"Have you ever met any famous people?"
"Does your house look like the Kardashian's does?" 
"Do you really go to school with boys?"
"Wait, Kentucky? As in KFC?" (we're leaving a great legacy, y'all)

Schoolwise, Walton couldn't have been more different from my many years of experience in the American public school system. Tests, quizzes, and homework were not the daily occurrence that they were back home. My classes included dance, 
religious studies, and even a free period when I attempted to teach myself the curriculum for my AP United States History course back home. I quickly    learned that math class was referred to as "maths", you were to say "yes, miss" instead of "here" during roll call, and that backpacks were definitely not the cool way to transport your books.

Since homework was basically nonexistent, I would come home from school and spend my afternoons roaming the manor and grounds, playing snooker, watching movies, you name it. To this day, I still know all the secret passages and best hangout spots in and around the manor like the back of my hand. This semester, however, time outside of class is spent crying over British Studies or crying over my bank account as I plan out my next weekend excursion. Instead of watching the older college students compete in house competitions, I’m competing myself with my own teammates. Rather than hanging out in the Van der Elst faculty lounge with my family, I can often be found in the Schroeder Lounge or the Bistro with my friends.

But as different as my experience four years ago was, so much is just the same this time around. Many of the same friendly faces on staff are there to greet every person each day with a smile. The refectory food hasn’t changed in the slightest. And the manor itself is exactly as I left it-- in fact, I distinctly remember that feeling of awe that washed over me as I caught my first glimpse of the majestic building back in August 
of 2012. And just a month ago as our bus of bleary-eyed college students pulled up to the gate, that feeling that washed over us was just the same.          
                               
As a sophomore in high school, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life after graduation (surprisingly, I'm still figuring that one out). I did, however, know that I would do absolutely whatever it took to return to Harlaxton as a college student. At only 15 years old, this place opened my eyes to an entire world outside of what I had always known. It left me with an inexplicable desire to travel, experience, and create my own 
world view. My time at Harlaxton gave me a greater understanding of different cultures, languages, and people. And at 20 years old, it's doing exactly the same.

They say ‘you only Harlaxton once’—and for many, that is true. But if you’re like me and ever find yourself with the opportunity to study abroad or travel the world all over again, take it. The ­­­­people you’ll meet, the lessons you’ll learn, and the experiences you’ll have are ones that you will carry with you for years to come.

Spring 2017


Friday, 17 February 2017

Why You Should Ask for Directions: Adventures in Cardiff

Rachel McCoy, Spring 2017

            

           This weekend I went to Cardiff, Wales with Georgia McMaster and we got a little lost because buses are confusing, especially when you can’t find a complete map of the system. We were trying to use Google Maps but the Wifi was iffy at best. Regardless, we were pretty sure we’d found the right bus stop, evident by the bus parked at the stop. The only problem was we weren’t sure if it was the right bus, so we decided to ask an older couple that was also waiting for the bus. Here’s how that conversation went:
I cautiously walk up to the couple, “excuse me, is this bus going to the Bay?”
            Older lady turns to me and says very politely, “no, this is a park ‘n’ ride bus.”
As I try to hide my disappointment I respond, “oh, thank you,” and walk away with Georgia.
We proceeded to huddle against a wall in order to get wifi and realized that the bus we wanted would be there in about ten minutes. To our surprise, however, the older couple asked the bus driver if he could still give us a ride while we waited. With two bus drivers present for the changing of shifts, the one who was coming off shift said “If it was my bus, I’d definitely take them” and the current bus driver also agreed.
Georgia and I looked at each other, shocked that it was really happening, but the older gentleman gestured for us to get on with him, saying “pretend you're in my car.”
Once seated on the bus Georgia said to the couple, “you're so nice, thank you very much.”
And the lady replied “of course we are, we’re Welsh.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for directions/help/whatever you need from someone who looks like they know what they’re doing because it can really pay off. Also, totally go to Wales. A short trip from Harlaxton, Wales is the location of many historical places as well as several iconic places from the Doctor Who universe. One of my favorite things Georgia and I did was walk a few trails in Bute Park on Saturday morning and, despite being a cold day in January, the sun had called plenty of people (and dogs) outside. Bute Park is next to Cardiff Castle, and has extensive cycling and walking trails for those who fancy the outdoors. Not only did we walk several trails but also climbed some trees and leisurely soaked up the sun in the beautiful place.
The beautiful city is also the location of great little shops all within walking distance of one another.  While we were there for only two days, there’s plenty more to explore including several museums, Sully Island, and Principality Stadium. In Wales, you can simply walk down the street with a guarantee to find something to do.



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Love Stories from Harlaxton Manor



Harlaxton not only brings together students for a semester filled with adventure, but it’s also known to bring together couples destined for love. Over the past 45 years, young men and women have started their lives together on the grounds of the 19th century country home. So this Valentine’s Day Harlaxton College wants to celebrate some of the love stories that started and blossomed during their time at the Manor. From sitting next to each other in classes to competing against one another in House competitions, you never know if you’re going to meet your future spouse at Harlaxton.

Hayden and Abby, Spring 2014





“Our story begins in the hotel lobby on the first day of our London trip: several of our mutual friends from Western Kentucky University were gathered in a group as we waited to set out on our excursion to the Tower of London. This is where we were first introduced.
As the weeks at Harlaxton College flew by, we began to see more of each other—in the refectory, on group outings into Grantham, and movie nights in the Pearson room. Eventually, we found ourselves talking into the early hours of many mornings, getting to know each other very quickly. As time passed, we became nearly inseparable: celebrating our birthdays together, spending our weekends exploring the Manor, and creating the best memories with our fellow students. We went on our first date at the Barcelona Zoo, a trip we will never forget.
           When we returned to the U.S., we spent all summer traveling to see each other. We knew our Harlaxton romance was special and on June 25, 2015 we got engaged. We spent a year planning for the wedding and our future as the Hickeys. On June 4th, 2016, we got married surrounded by many of our Harlaxton friends. As this time of year comes around, we frequently reminisce about our time on the English countryside and thank Gregory Gregory for the beautiful Manor, built perfectly to give us the opportunity to fall in love.” — Abby 


Sean and Cheyanne, Fall 2012




“Cheyanne and I met the night of the Ceilidh dance, one of the first events of the Fall 2012 semester. We were both from different schools but as fate would have it, my parents live in the same town as her university. Thus proving again how travel makes the world seem a bit smaller for us global citizens. On our first date, Zyggy drove us to town in the shuttle for a romantic ASDA trip. The magic of the Manor was strong and after a trip to Paris and many more dates at that finest of Grantham establishments, The Goose, we knew we had found something special. We're both so thankful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of falling in love in a Manor house in the English countryside. It must have been all the Shakespeare and Austen we absolutely had time to read. We will soon be celebrating 3 happy years of marriage at our home in China. Harlaxton gave us a love for traveling together. So much so we are typing this blog post from our Airbnb in Tokyo! The journey never ends! Pegasus House for life.” — Sean  

Tyler and Lorissa, Spring 2014





“Our path to one another was based on a lot of slim chances going our way; if one thing had changed, we would have never met. From both of us choosing to go to one of the few schools that sends people to Harlaxton (I’m from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Tyler from Wabash College) to Tyler having classes with professors on the study abroad committee and getting an informal offer to make the trip abroad, and from me changing my plans to study in Limerick, Ireland to Harlaxton, England. We look back now and realize how truly lucky we were to end up in the United Kingdom.
It was an even happier coincidence that we managed to find ourselves seated next to one another in Dr. Bujak’s World War II class. I had a crush on Tyler from the minute I laid eyes on his beard (just kidding...kind of) but was way too chicken to approach him. Tyler had no idea in the slightest that I had a crush on him. Tyler introduced himself eventually by talking trash about my beloved Green Bay Packers (he’s a Chicago Bears fan), a tactic that only worked because I’m such a big football fan in the first place.
After that we became friends, he even got to meet my family in another chance encounter, until eventually things came to a head at an incredibly classy establishment called Faces. After Tyler danced with my good friend, Sonja (he still didn’t know I had a crush on him), our mutual friend Chrissy finally revealed that I really liked him. Even though Tyler tried to be as dashing as he could by asking me to dance, I rejected the offer. After trying a couple more times, I eventually gave him a shot. It’s truly amazing to think that that night has led to us being officially together for three years this April and working towards moving in together in the very near future.” — Lorissa  


Austin and Makayla, Fall 2013



“Our story began while studying at Harlaxton during the Fall 2013 semester. He was a student at the University of Evansville and I was a student at Baker University. The first time we met was the day the house cup teams were selected. We were both placed in Pegasus, and from then on, we couldn’t get enough time together. Neither of us were looking for a relationship, but we never expected to grow so close in just three short months. We started traveling together on the weekends and towards the end of the semester we knew we didn’t want it to end. When we got back to the states, he went home to Indiana and I went back to Kansas. I made the seven hour trip to Indiana less than two weeks after we returned. We made the long distance work for our first semester back, it only took 10,000 miles on the road in four months. After that semester, I made the big decision to transfer to a school in Evansville. I made the big move in May of 2014, and from that point on, it has been nothing but great adventures together!
Our adventures together have taken us to nine countries, parasailing on the Gulf Coast, rappelling down waterfalls in Costa Rica, and zip lining over the rain forest in Central America. Harlaxton was the greatest adventure either of us had ever experienced, but because of that one semester abroad, we are about to start our next great adventure. We are getting married in September!” — Makayla

Jordan and Chelsea, Fall 2012


“Chelsea and I met for the first time at the High Table dinner when we first got to the Manor. We went to different colleges, so we had never even seen each other before. It was a rather brief introduction, and honestly neither of us really thought much of it. A couple of months went by and some people at the Manor decided to order pizza and have a Lord of the Rings marathon. The Pearson Lounge was occupied, so we all crammed into one of the little rooms down in the Bistro. Well, once there, this girl, who I though was rather cute, offered to teach me how to play Hearts on my computer. She did, and then proceeded to take her seat on the other side of the room. We watched the first movie, and then learned the Pearson Lounge was free. We moved our group upstairs and I strategically seated myself on the couch next to this quiet, charming girl whose name was Chelsea. After that, we travelled together on a lot trips throughout the semester. We explored Caernarfon Castle, saw Stonehenge and explored the Louvre together, which we consider our first official date, which was the last time we saw each other while in Europe. She studied abroad another semester in the spring, this time in Costa Rica. We dated for about a year and a half before getting married June 6, 2015. And here we are, married for a year and a half and always planning our next adventure.” — Jordan

Michael and Sarah, Spring 2015
“Sarah and I met each other for the first time early in Harlaxton, but we didn't really start talking to each other until one day when I spotted her in the DVD room. I started talking to her about my writing, and soon we grew into friends. I would hang out with her and her friend group every Monday, and then more often. Sarah and I were friends for a while until I went to Gibraltar, where I realized she had feelings for me. We talked, cuddled and I asked her out. We had our first kiss, but for a while we wanted to keep it away from the friend group so as to not create drama. We had an amazing time traveling together to Bath and Stonehenge that we decided to tell our friends after returning to the Manor.  Then I was hanging out with her every day. We grew in our relationship, and after I got back from France we told each other "I love you". The month of April was hard for us because we knew that we would have to say goodbye soon, but we wanted to continue long distance. We even had a talk about it in the Gold Room on how we were going to make it. Leaving her at Heathrow was the hardest thing I have ever done. Despite the fact that I spent the next two weeks with my family in Europe, I missed her so much. When I got back home, we planned a flight to see each other. I flew down to Austin Texas to see her. Three times that summer we saw each other, and each time was special. Sarah and I made a promise to see each other in person every month, and so far we have kept it. I have flown and driven the full 18 hours to see her numerous times. This winter was my 6th trip to Texas by car.” — Michael