By Cassidy Blackwell
I know I said this in my last article, but the semester has gone by much too quickly. It’s hard to imagine that I will be back at home in a month. My time at Harlaxton has felt like a break from reality. My course load is manageable and I’ve gotten to travel nearly every weekend. I’ve spent more time doing the things I love and gotten close with some amazing people whom I’m not ready to leave yet. When I return to ETSU for my final semester this spring, I’ll be completing my honors thesis and planning my future after college. I’m excited to be graduating, but the pressures of being a senior are already setting in.
Since my last article, I traveled to Scotland and London for fall break with my mom. I enjoyed seeing her after being away from my family. We wandered the streets of Edinburgh, wrapped in scarves to shield us from the cold, stumbling upon amazing restaurants and stores. In London, we watched “Wicked” in the Apollo Victoria Theater and spent a day on the southern coast at Seven Sisters Country Park. Our day at the beach was a refreshing break from the rush of cities. We walked past fluffy cows grazing on rolling green hills and shooed off a seagull desperate for our lunch. The lofty white cliffs were unlike anything I had seen before.
We had a wonderful week together, but of course some things went wrong. We missed our first train to Edinburgh and scrambled to find the next available time. Once we finally arrived after a five-hour journey, we took the wrong bus and ended up at the hospital instead of our bed and breakfast. Luckily, a kind local pointed us in the right direction.
Moments like these remind me that some things are out of my control. No amount of careful planning could ensure a trip running perfectly. Trains get delayed, taxis break down, and sometimes Google Maps misleads you. Nevertheless, these frustrations haven’t ruined our trips. Travel definitely teaches patience.
It’s also been surprising how kind strangers have been. People are always willing to help if we look lost and locals enjoy starting conversations as soon as they hear our American accents. Our waiter at a restaurant in London wrote out recommendations for food and afternoon tea and then gave us their Instagram in case we had any further questions. I was not expecting to be so well received as a tourist, but locals have been more than kind.
The weekend after fall break was family weekend. Though my mom came the week before, some friends and I crashed the activities the university had planned. We giggled excessively while flower arranging and pumpkin carving with our friends and their parents.
I was shocked to learn that Halloween is new to the UK and has only recently been adopted from the U.S. Over the Halloween weekend, I spent a day with another student and our host family in Newark. We walked through a Halloween festival at the base of a ruined castle and saw some interesting activities. Children were playing ring toss with mannequin legs jutting out of the ground! We assured our host family that we typically don’t do that in the U.S.
Some of my favorite moments from this semester have been enjoying my friends’ company. We frequently go on walks, even in the dark now that the time has changed. Harlaxton also hosts weekly games like karaoke and bingo that we rarely miss. Since several of my friends are music majors, we enjoy singing along and listening to them play piano in the grand hall.
Becoming closer with other students, the faculty and staff, and my host family has been special and knowing that our semester is nearly over gets harder each day.