Okay, so I’ve been keeping a journal (in the notebook Sara gave me) and maybe that will help me recount a summary of my adventures each Thursday. Here we go…
To start at the beginning, I flew. By myself. Over an ocean. For the first time ever. That experience was exciting, obviously, but it seems like it happened ages ago. I did accomplish my Blue Envelope challenge: to have a conversation with the person sitting next to me on the flight from Boston to England. She was a very large woman from London, not my future husband OR a fat guy, as it turns out. I don’t think she was from London originally; she seemed to have a different accent, and I couldn’t understand what she said her name was, but it sounded like “Lucky,” so I called her that in my head the entire time. Anyway, she was the one to strike up the conversation before I’d ever opened my envelope. She asked me if I was on holiday. We had a brief conversation, but mostly we both slept. The plane had so many movies I wanted to watch, including all the Harry Potter movies, but a) I couldn’t figure out where the headphones go, and b) I figured I should sleep as much as I could.
So, enough of the plane trip. When I arrived at the airport, I went to the immigration officer area, where I immediately spotted two orange luggage tags denoting Harlaxton students. So I made friends! And then Lauren, Kenzie, and I went on an adventure through the Heathrow airport, eventually meeting up with a TON of fellow Harlaxtonians. Sooner or later, we boarded a coach (that’s a bus), slept for two to three hours, then woke up approaching our future home at Harlaxton Manor.
Once we got to the manor, we had a bit of lunch, then got free time to explore. And, well, you saw all the pictures I took. Plus, I found a secret staircase on the first day! I met my roommates, who are both very nice, and we have a room that’s pretty huge. After that was a blur of orientations (complete with wine--I didn’t drink any) and convocations. We sang “God Save the Queen” and we had a fancy dinner. Potatoes are served at every meal, by the way. J. Morgan and I had a moment in the refectory (that’s the cafeteria), when we both exclaimed, “PO-TA-TOES. Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew!”
Also, I’ve been into the neighboring town of Grantham a few times. It’s a moderate sized city with lots of shops. There’s Pound Land (like our Dollar Tree), and Morrison’s (a grocery), and then there’s the granddaddy of them all: ASDA! It’s British Wal-Mart! And it has this escalator that doesn’t have steps, but an incline, so you can take your shopping cart up it. I bought Turkish Delight, solely because it reminded me of Narnia, but it was not delightful at all. The clerk was pretty spot on when he told me it tasted like “perfume jelly in chocolate.” Ugh.
On another note, I went to church on Sunday, at a Baptist church in Grantham. It was small and full of elderly people, who were all so adorable. A lovely lady named Ginny (I’m not sure it’s spelled with a G, but I’m going to assume, since it’s England) invited me and my friend Jordan to stay after the service for their “bring and share luncheon” (like a pot luck). The food was pretty good. I tried a meat pie--not bad--and I really liked the chicken sauce stuff they had to go over the baked potatoes (yes, MORE potatoes!). Afterward, Ginny and her husband Gerald gave us a lift (not a ride) back to the manor. They had been involved with the Meet a Family Programme here for a number of years, so they knew exactly where to drop us off and everything. Also at that church I had my first sip of wine (for communion, of course). Surprisingly it wasn’t nasty. I didn’t grimace, spit, or offend anyone like I had expected.
In other news, I have visited the basement pub called The Bistro once. Well, I never really went in the pub part, but they have a foosball table down there and I met a bunch of people, including a guy with six middle names. I can’t remember them all, unfortunately. Since then I’ve been to meetings galore: Christian fellowship group, Meet a Family, travel briefings, Harlaxton Players theatre group, etc., etc., etc.
Oh, and there’s also class. That thing we do here: learning. I almost forgot! (Kidding.) Yeah, classes are going well. British Studies is kind of overwhelming; they threw us right into the work and I’ve already given a group presentation. But it’s going to be interesting and the field trips will be a lot of fun. The entire school has British Studies lecture together…in the GREAT HALL! Seriously guys, this place is so amazing!
I’m also taking Environmental Science, which will probably be pretty easy, since the teacher is really laid back, and Writing Workshop, which is structured like my previous writing classes, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Over all, I’ve enjoyed my classes so far.
Totally off topic, last night there was a Ceilidh! That’s an Irish dancing function, but the band taught us Scottish, French, Swedish, and Israeli dances as well. Let me tell you, it was intense. It was kind of like Pride and Prejudice dancing in super fast-forward. Yeah, you want to work up a sweat, go to a Ceilidh (that’s pronounced Kay-lee, by the way). It was so much fun. I love Irish music.
Anyway, that about sums up the week. It’s been amazing so far, and I think it’s going to be a great semester. The principal (who is American, but just seems like a cute old British fellow) thinks it will be as well. He told us that a British person once said of us Americans, “You believe anything is possible, and because you believe it, it is.” Let me tell you, I do believe anything is possible, and I thank God every day for the opportunity to be here, at this moment, in this place, living the adventure of a lifetime.
So for now it’s goodbye from Harlaxton Manor. I’m off on a new adventure to London. It’s time to see what’s possible there…
P.S. Harlaxton songs of the week, for your listening pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJIv0Zhl6c4
We sang this one (well the very first part) over and over at Convocation, because the adorable principal liked it so much.
And this is one my friend Kenzie told me about before the Ceilidh we had. I officially love this!