One week ago from today (I can hardly believe it!) I left my house at 6 am. It was difficult to know that I won't be returning to that place until May 2nd. After being here only a week I am excited about all the things that lie ahead, but I still look at the calendar and think that four months is a long time to be away. It is a good sign that the days I have been here have gone very quickly! I am trying to keep up. Well, back to the travel. After a drive the St. Louis airport and some anxious waiting, I boarded my first flight alone. It was a strange feeling to know that I had to do the rest on my own. I had been planning this whole trip myself, but to know that I didn't have the regular people to answer my questions was a little scary but even more empowering. After landing in the Chicago airport, I found my good friend Laurel! She is at Harlaxton this semester too. It was so nice to see a friendly face. We had lunch in the airport with another girl from William Jewell, Stephanie. I was very happy to see both of them. Of course I couldn't hear them very well as my ears were still popping from the flight! After lunch we made our way to the international terminal. From this terminal you could go so many places. Korea, Japan, France...just to name a few. Our airline, Virgin Atlantic, has a wonderful red theme going. All the stewardess' are dressed in red suites. The plane is red. The stuff they give you is red. It was a long process, but Laurel and I did a really good job mastering all the lines and waiting you have to do to get your boarding pass and get through security. Eventually we did get to the plane. I hadn't really thought much about the fact that I was going to be on an airplane with hardly any room for 7 hours. This was a surprise. I had to sit in the middle of four seats. It was tight. I made it though! This is also where I had my first true encounter with British people. Our steward and stewardesses were British. For awhile I just listened to them asking people about their drinks. This could provide hours of entertainment. After having a "lemonade" which is really like a Sprite, I went to sleep. They mess with your concept of time while on this flight too. The captain turns the lights off to signal "night" but that only lasts about 4 hours because then it is "morning" and the lights come on. I think they want you to pretend your body is on the British time clock but really you aren't.
After the airplane landed, we began the wonderful process of claiming luggage and going through customs. This part of the trip was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I was imagining some awful questioning process as I tried to enter the UK, but the officer just looked at my letter of intent and then at my passport. Suddenly I was really there! I was really into the UK for the next four months. Wow! Now I have a stamp in my passport! It was a pretty amazing feeling. I won't bore you with the luggage claim and the waiting for the coach (bus is what we call it). Eventually I rode a coach with all the other students from Harlaxton from London to Harlaxton. It was a two and a half hour drive and I slept some more. I was expecting to see some great things on the way there, but the greatest thing were the livestock that were in the fields we passed.
Finally, we were here! I didn't feel tired or jet-lagged when I saw the 170 year old mansion in the distance. I was home. It felt like home when I entered the manor to receive my packet and I didn't even have to look for my name. A familiar face, Dr. Dunham, handed me my packet and his wife Betty asked how Laurel and I were doing. It was such a relief to see both of them. The Dunhams are retired professors and are staying at Harlaxton for January. It will be a sad day when they must return. I see them most everyday and they are always so friendly.
The manor was finally a reality. I could touch the stone, taste the food, and explore the grounds. I found my room. I will get my exercise as I live on the top floor of rooms! There was so much to learn in the first few days and I felt overwhelmed, but blessed to know that I had traveled so far in such a relatively short time and safely. I have so much to do and see. I can already feel the time just melting away!
Since I have not been good at posting this account of travel is nearly a week in the past. I have done so much more since I arrived, but that will have to be left for another day. I hope everyone at home is doing well. Always appreciate all the mexican food you eat (they don't have any of that here!).