Tuesday, 31 January 2017

London Adventures

By Kayla Walters, Spring 2017

Thursday, January 12th

Leave Harlaxton for London
Today I found out I can’t sleep on buses. Luckily for me this was a 3 hour bus ride where everyone else fell asleep immediately!!!!
Essentially we got to our Hotel (The Royal National Hotel). Walked around for a little bit. Ate at Pizza Express. Went to bed.

Friday, January 13th

Leicester Square
We began our journey by visiting Leicester Square to see if there were any cheap tickets for shows that night at the various theaters in town. My heart skipped a beat when I saw "Wicked" flash across the screen. It had been almost 10 years since I had seen the play and I was eager to watch it once more. With the ticket only being £21.50 I decided it was fate and bought it. The purchase was the most spontaneous and exciting thing I have done to date...minus the whole picking up and leaving America for a semester.

Tower of London
As suggested by our host family we went to the Tower of London. We did a little tour with a beefeater and then got to spend the rest of the time exploring the castle on our own. Side note, the Tower of London houses the crowned jewels because apparently the Queen has a really small closet and couldn’t fit them in there.

This was our "beefeater" who gave us the tour (he also doesn't know why they are called "beefeaters")
Things I learned
     The Queen and I have very different styles. While I told my mom "I want people to yawn when they see my prom dress," Elizabeth liked to wear Project Runway-esque clothing. To each their own.
     531.6 carats is apparently an option when you are royalty. Now that I know this I simply can’t accept anything less.
Things I questioned
     Why are WKU’s 50 year-old dorms slowly starting to crumble while England's castles are standing strong like it hasn't been over 1,000 years?
     How many pigeons can one country have?

Tower Bridge
This is hands down the cutest bridge I have ever seen. Honestly, I’m just wondering how Louisville is able to charge people to go over their new, ugly bridge when England let me go on their old, beautiful bridge for free...twice (my navigation skills in the UK are similar to my navigation skills in the USA).

Tower Bridge
Red Lion
Once it was 2:30 PM and we realized we had not yet eaten, we decided that it might be a good idea to stop for lunch. We ate at the Red Lion where I got a plain hamburger. I can only take so much adventure for one day.

A picture symbolizing my love to try new things

Sight Seeing (Westminster, Big Ben, London Eye)

Apparently it’s just "Westminster" and not "West Minister." No matter how I say it, it was simply lovely.

Westminster Abbey
Big Ben
I learned that this is actually the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben is the bell inside of the clock. Studying abroad is a constant educational experience.

I was beyond excited to see the show. It was a little tricky to get to (I started to walk through a construction site to get to the theater (as one typically does) until someone yelled at me to stop because apparently I was not authorized to be there. English people can be so funny about stuff like that.)
Anyways, the show starts at 7:30 PM and I finish sprinting to my seat at around 7:31 PM. While I was still panting for most of the opening song I knew I had made the right choice by coming. It was just as wonderful as the first time I saw it. I’m also convinced the person sitting next to me thought I was out of mind because I couldn’t help but smile through the entire performance. I simply could not get over the fact that I was watching my favorite show whilst studying abroad. 2 dreams, 1 international flight.

After the show Angel Ann (another WKU ADPi that saw the show) and I decided we needed to find dinner. Not wanting to over immerse ourselves in the English culture too early on, we decided on McDonald’s.
Side note, while I have noticed that Europeans are far skinner than Americans, I did not appreciate them trying to pass off their small cup as a medium.

Saturday, January 14th

Abbey Road

After forgetting my Oyster Card (you need this to get on the Tube) and literally sprinting half a mile (again thank you SHA track team) back to the hotel to grab it, we were off to Abbey Road. I envisioned a closed off road with a line where you would politely wait your turn to take the iconic picture. Instead, I found a highly trafficked crosswalk where the cars were less than pleased with the iconic site being in the middle of their route. Despite the challenges we faced, we made sure to get the signature tourist picture and not get hit by any cars which was truly remarkable given our situation.

Buckingham Palace
Our next stop was to see Liz, but she was busy babysitting for Will and Kate so we had to take a rain check. Apparently, we must have tried to cash in our rain check early because it started pouring when we got there. Luckily, I was smart and made sure to bring an umbrella with me to London. Unluckily, I left it in my backpack in the hotel. Regardless, the building was beautiful and we got to catch the tail end of the changing of the guards which was exciting to watch.

Me doing WKU things at non-WKU locations

Cafe Bella Maria
We found the cutest place ever to eat at for lunch. Making sure I stayed true to my American ordering habits, once it was my turn I said, “I have a complicated order” and proceeded to create my own sandwich for them to make.

Cafe Bella Maria
Parent Trap House
Next stop was to the Parent Trap House. Before we went I asked if it was the Mom’s or the Dad’s house. Surprisingly it was the Mom’s (she lived in London) and not the Dad’s (he lived in Napa Valley).
Anywho, the neighborhood was absolutely beautiful and the worst car parked on the street was a BMW that couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. Safe to say my 1999 Honda Civic and I would have it in perfectly here. We also found out that the house in fact was part of an apartment complex and not a standalone house as the movie portrays it to be (learning so much this first week!!!)

The house in real life

The house in the movie

Camden Market
Then we went to the Camden Market where approximately 9863479 vendors lined the streets. We walked around and looked in the little shops until we decided that all the walking we had done for the day was finally catching up to us.

British Museum  
At 5:23 PM we arrive at the British Museum. For all those who are unaware, the British Museum closes as 5:30 PM. With one quick lap around the museum, we spent the remainder of our 7 minutes sitting on a bench in one of the exhibit halls. Again, the amount of walking was setting it.

So far the only time I have felt truly homesick here is when I caught myself thinking about El Maz's tacos. To combat this we ate at Tortilla that night where I was able to get 3 tacos and ease my nerves.

Blooms Pizza Café
Almost immediately afterwards, Kristen and I went to a café near our hotel. I got a bacon and cheddar sandwich and a bag of mnm’s. I’m just trying to see if the “Study Abroad 15” is real or not.
Sunday, January 15th

Hampton Court Palace
The school took us to Hampton Court Palace on our way back to the manor. We got to explore King Henry VIII’s and William III’s living quarters which was really cool since we are learning about them in British Studies. They had free audio tours which was super nice since most of the rooms were pretty barren as far as informative plaques went.

Me laughing at the fact that the castle I'm living in is prettier than one we were visiting

On the ride back I was once again reminded that I still cannot fall asleep on buses.

In summary, London was 10/10. Next stop: Edinburgh, Scotland!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Fire Drill Misery

By Emma Daubenmerkl, Spring 2017
           The day started out like every other (every other day being the past two weeks that I’ve been at Harlaxton). I woke up to my alarm clock going off at 6:45 a.m.. I turned it off and bumbled around in the dark to find my shoes and glasses without waking my roommate up. After checking all the notification that I got on my phone the previous night (it was like 1 Facebook notification and a Snapchat-- I’m so popular!). I proceeded to follow the rest of my morning routine by grabbing my towel and all my other shower supplies. Like I said, it started out like any other morning.

            It was halfway through my shower when the morning took a turn for the worst. I heard this strange screeching sound very faintly. It took me a second to recognize what the sound was.
Are you kidding me? I thought. The fire alarm was going off. I quickly turned the shower off and grabbed my glasses. Now what? I looked around. There was no way that I was going outside in a towel. I don’t care if I’m the last one out there; I am going to put clothes on first. I reached up, quickly put my pajamas back on, and ran out of the bathroom.

In doing so, I ran into a few other girls on my floor. I wasn’t the last one! We walked to the main staircase where Megan (one of the interns) was standing holding a paper that had fire on it. Can’t go that way. We ran to the Cedar Staircase on the other side of the floor, regretting the decision as one of the girls slipped and fell down amidst the chaos. She quickly got back up and we continued our way to the nearest exit, screeching fire alarm still in the background.

Huffing and puffing, we got to the second floor (we started on the fifth) only to discover yet another faculty member holding a fire sign, warning us of the false fire down the adjacent corridor. With only seven minutes to evacuate the building I was starting to think we were never going to get out. We frantically ran through the state rooms, ending up in the Conservatory.  Perfect! That’ll take us outside at least.

We ran through the green house and out of the manor. No one in sight, we realized we were on the wrong side of the Manor. After running to find the rest of the school, we realized our RA was nowhere to be seen and we stood around like idiots for a few minutes (which was probably just a few seconds but it felt like a really long time) until someone finally called us over.

I ran into a few of my friends, many complaining about forgotten glasses and being awakened too early,  as I sit there soaking wet and shivering (I’m not bitter at all). Attendance was taken and I proceeded to complain to everyone about how I was in the shower when the alarm went off (as one does in situations like that).

Eventually we were allowed to go back inside (we still don’t know if we made the time or not… hopefully we won’t have to go through that again). I trudged up the five floors to my room, went into the bathroom to grab all of my stuff and proceeded to my room. As I passed by some of the other girls on my floor said, “Does anyone else feel personally victimized by the professors this morning?” I for sure did!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

By Miranda Lindmark, Spring 2017

Three weeks ago I left my home in Kansas to move into a castle and travel the world for four months (I’m sorry, what? Is this real life?) On January 4th, 150 students from all over the world arrived in Grantham, England ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Wide-eyed, tired, and fuelled with wonder and adrenaline, most of us were about to experience something unlike anything we have ever done before.

As the days have passed, the newest class of Harlaxton students is beginning to settle and form a regular routine. Students are getting involved, meeting new friends, preparing for British Studies quizzes, and planning trips all over the world. As I talk to friends & family back home, I continue to be asked questions like, “How is studying abroad?”, “How does it feel?”, “Do you miss home?”, “Are things really different there?”, and more.

Just last week, our Student Development Office asked us all a question. “What has been surprising about your transition?” Throughout the week, students stopped by the question board posted outside of their office to anonymously post their answers.

Here are some of the answers that I read:
“How fast I spent all my money.”
“Food is so good here!”
“No ice.”
“I feel like I’ve been here for so long!! It’s so amazing!”
“I never thought I could be so happy in such a short amount of time.”
“The past two weeks have gone by so slowly, and I love it!”
“My room is freezing all of the time!”
“ I want my mom.”
“What’s up with the heaters?”
“Hot or cold water only.”
“It feels like summer camp now.”
“The sun doesn’t exist here.”
“I am amazed at how beautiful this place is.”

You can see some common themes here. The food is different, the weather is cold, the Manor is beautiful, and being here for two weeks has felt like an incredible eternity…

For me, the biggest thing that has surprised me since arriving has been my mix of emotions. As of now, almost three weeks in, it is hard for me to put many of my feelings into words. I’m living in a gorgeous, Hogwarts-esque manor, in a country thousands of miles from home, meeting incredible people, with countless opportunities in front of me. It has been incredible, scary, exhilarating, exhausting, and wonderful. The entire world is right at my fingertips, and it still seems unreal. I have been thrown out of any sort of comfort zone I once had, and I am loving every minute of it.