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?

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