photojournalism student – Western Kentucky University

my harlaxton home

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I’ve been home for almost two weeks now and still haven’t quite come to terms with that fact completely.  I’ve been putting off writing a farewell post, not because I don’t want to write all about my semester, but because I’m still not quite sure if I’m ready to say goodbye entirely.  Writing this last post will mean that it’s all truly over and all that’s left to do is reflect on the time spent and memories made.  It’s hard to sum it all up or pinpoint specific experiences that made this semester everything that it was.  How do I even begin to describe my European excursions in a few words when someone asks me “So how was your trip?”  This semester was full of traveling, friends, nights out, learning experiences, studying, exploring and a whole lot of being grateful for every second spent across the pond.  Saying how much Harlaxton meant to me in a quick conversation wouldn’t do it justice.  In this post I’m including some of my favorite things about this semester, some advice for others who may study abroad and of course my favorite pictures from Harlaxton!

  • Favorite places: Barcelona, Venice, Edinburg, and Paris
  • Favorite new food: Gelato
  • Favorite refectory food: Banana bread
  • Favorite places in Grantham: Costa coffee shop, Alwyn’s Hair Design & Internacionale Fashion Shop
  • Favorite extracurricular: Harlaxton Lions Volleyball & Meet-a-Family
  • Favorite day at Harlaxton: After our second British Studies Exam when the baby lambs came to play!
  • Favorite night at Harlaxton: The Valedictory Dinner and final evening in the Bistro
  • Favorite class: Sociology- because we had class outside all the time. (And I learned a great deal too!)
  • Favorite study spot: In the conservatory, weather permitting.
  • Favorite form of travel: Trains over planes!
  • Favorite Lake District activity: Ghyll Scrambling

My Harlaxton Do’s & Don’ts:

  1. DO be brave. Do things that scare you. Try something you wouldn’t do everyday at home. Never get too comfortable to where you stop having exciting new experiences.  You’ll regret the things you didn’t do or were too nervous to try.  I can’t count how many times we said “you’re only in England once!”
  2. DO be friendly.  If you’re nice to people, generally, they’ll be nice in return.  Make good friends and build genuine friendships that have potential of lasting longer than the semester. Invest in meaningful new relationships and you won’t regret it.
  3. DO be smart.  It’s still school, people! This may come as a surprise after the first week of making new friends, exploring and traveling about London; but the rude realization that it’s not just all fun & games soon becomes a reality.  Don’t lose sight of the big picture and remember that GPA!
  4. DO be independent.  Figure things out for yourself and do things that YOU want to do.  Don’t miss out on something because a group of people aren’t on board with you.  Be yourself and do things that make you happy, even if that means going solo sometimes & making new friends along the way.
  5. DO be a person people want to be friends with. Harlaxton Manor is just a building; the people inside give it the personality and character that make it a home. The trips you take and memories you make while traveling are very dependent upon the people that surround you. Be a person people want to travel with. Be a person who makes Harlaxton the lovely place it is!
  6. DO apply for a family.  The Meet-a-Family program is an awesome experience and is beneficial in many aspects of your Harlaxton experience.  Not only is your family a way to experience British culture, but they can also serve as a nice escape for school and travel.  (And maybe even cook you some exceptionally yummy food if you’re lucky!)
  7. DON’T be snobby.  Americans already have a semi-unfortunate reputation of thinking everything we do is the “right” way; so don’t further prove that idea. We all love the USA and are proud Americans, but there’s no need to exclaim it or rub people the wrong way.  Respect the different people you meet and don’t assume you are better than they are because you’re American.
  8. DON’T be close-minded.  Other countries don’t necessarily do things in a better or worse way than America; it’s just a different way.  Be open and willing to try new things and participate in other cultures. Don’t be naïve.  Experience and observe the ways of life in the different countries you visit and accept the difference and embrace what you’ve learned.
  9. DON’T complain. You’re so, so lucky! Be so grateful for every minute of everyday, especially when it’s in the English countryside or anywhere else in the world for that matter! Why waste time whining about the food, homework or missing home when you so clearly have it made.
  10. DON’T over pack.  Take it from the girl who tried to bring her whole wardrobe, naturally. YOU DON’T NEED IT ALL! Be smart, pack light & buy fun, new things when get tired of the same ole’ stuff.  But honestly, you may not get to wear everything you pack if you’re like me. I would encourage you to pack a pair of slippers though; you’ll thank me later!
  11. DON’T make plans.  I can almost bet that every time something interesting happened on a trip or we ended up at a fun place, it was somewhere that was just happened upon.  Never feel like you have to make an itinerary and stick to it.  Yes, it’s nice to have an idea of what you want to see so you’re not wasting time wandering aimlessly, but don’t be so uptight that you miss out on fun opportunities because they’re not on your schedule for the day.
  12. DON’T wish it away.  You only have 16 precious weeks.  Make the most of all your time in your new home.  Yes, you may be homesick at times, but that is no reason to forget what a PERFECT place you are in and how so many people would give anything to trade places with you for a day.  It all flies by faster than you can imagine, so cherish it all and take in every bit you can!

2 responses

  1. margie duvall

    Katie, what a beautiful message and what an amazing experience you have had. I have enjoyed your pictures so much and thanks for
    bringing them to us.

    May 12, 2012 at 5:30 am

  2. Clay Motley

    Great final post, Katie. We will try to share your advice with future Harlaxton students!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:44 am

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