April has brought a some wonderfully happy, memorable conversations, lots of random laughter, and several fun events. All these great, everyday moments can be attributed to my friends here at Harlaxton. It is so nice to write about my friends at Harlaxton. As many know, I came overseas knowing Laurel Harrold and we have travelled everywhere together, and I have loved it so much. I am so lucky and blessed to have had such a understanding and positive person as a travel companion, but I found it difficult to branch out and meet others. This month I has proven that I have accomplished this. This week I sat at lunch for about one and a half hours, not because the food was very good, but because I enjoyed talking to my friends so much. That was the first time I didn't eat and leave. It was so nice to laugh.
In the past few weeks I have been a ladybug at a costume ball, been filmed for a Harlaxton promotional video, taken a bike ride along the canal with friends, seen two live theater productions, and celebrated Easter. School is winding down (tomorrow is the last day of class), and I haven't had that much homework. This sounds so strange to write, but I am going to say it: I have had some free time. Often my life doesn't allow this much and I really can't remember the last time I could say that I had a few weeks of time that weren't jam packed with homework and other activities. The time has been filled with reading The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. The book made its way across the ocean with me, and I intended to read it while I was here. Little did I anticipate that I wouldn't get to it until the last two weeks of the semester. I am nearly half way done with the almost 1,000 page paperback, and so far I would recommend it to anyone. It may have special meaning in my eyes, as the setting is Medieval England, a time I have studied and a place I have come to dearly love.
As I mentioned, some of the activities that have filled up my empty time are theater-going and some fun around the Manor. Last Saturday I went to London (all by myself!) to visit the British Museum and see the matinee of Spring Awakening. First off, London was as packed as I have seen it. The British Museum was the busiest museum I have been in ever. Families were everywhere. In England and Europe, the Easter weekend is often a time for travel and vacation (or holiday, as they would say). Every major tourist destination is busy. In the British museum I tried to ignore the screaming children and make my way through the throngs of tourists to see the amazing objects. My favorite area was the Enlightenment Room. This housed lots of objects from a period of change and discovery. There were famous thinkers and scientists that were revolutionary for their time. The room itself is quite beautiful as well as it was a King's reading room at one time. After a few hours at the museum, I ventured on for a walk through London's streets. I have found that one of the best ways to discover a city is just to walk and look around, listen to the sounds, notice the people. So many times (I am so guilty), tourist just want to hit all the hot spots quickly, but there is something almost magical about getting to know an area through its people. I finished the walk at the Novello Theater just in time to collect my ticket, buy a program, and have a cup of tea at the cafe next door while reading up on the show history and cast.
Spring Awakening has murmured though the halls of Harlaxton as the musical to see. Many students have taken it in and loved it. I talked to several about their opinions and never heard a negative comment. After hearing the rave reactions, I had only one question, where should I sit? In most situations I would look at the ticket price that would determine my seat, but Spring Awakening offers a unique opportunity for audience members to sit on the stage. A few of the people I spoke with cautioned me against doing this for my first viewing as the view may be obstructed a bit, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to be that close to the actual cast.
On the stage, an actor or actress was always next to me just waiting to go on to the main part of the stage. I could see the spit fly out of the the actor's mouth as they enunciated every word! When the music gained speed and the volume grew, the stage shook and so did I. I was part of the show. What a great feeling to be so close to a production, yet it went on as if I was not even there. It was the most unique way I have ever seen a show in my life.
I have never seen such truthful, raw theater. The young actors and actresses who danced and sang upon that stage shared the questions and issues that young people faced. Laced with sadness and fear, the show creates a dynamic that is honest and music that has no limitations. Basically, it is one of those shows that keeps playing your mind long after you have left the theater. You ask yourself and others questions, and that is what good theater is.
Last night I had another theater experience that was memorable. I went to Nottingham to see the Royal Shakespeare Company on tour perform, The Tempest. The production was in collaboration with the Baxter Theater Company from South Africa. It was set in Africa which is not the normal setting for the show. The costumes of the spirits were reminiscent of The Lion King. It was obvious that the director and producer were looking to make a comment on the colonial overtones associated with the production. I am not sure where Shakespeare's actual text and play fits in with all these extra elements of the production, but it was entertaining! Visually, it was very appealing and I most enjoyed Ariel's portrayal. Between the traditional African masks, puppets, and music it was quite a production!
Tonight was the last outing for my Meet-a-Family. This is a British family that Harlaxton matched me up with to have simple dinners and outings. Their kindness and hospitality was so much appreciated. We went out to a family restaurant tonight and it was a nice ending to a wonderful aspect of my semester.
Before I sign off this post I want to give a bit of an update on my other life (the one that goes to school at William Jewell and calls Jefferson City her home). I have been offered and accepted the position of Editor-in-Chief of the Hilltop Monitor, the William Jewell campus newspaper. I a so excited to take this position. In the past semester, the Monitor has provided me with lots of wonderful experience, fun, and skills. I am looking forward to leading the whole staff for a year. I know that I can propel change if needed and provide support for other campus organizations. This is of course a big job, so I will need lots of prayers and support as I take on this challenge that has countless opportunities.
For the summer, I am so excited to live in Jefferson City in my own room with my family. So many of my friends from home have secured jobs in places all around the nation, and I am sad that I won't have them to provide a little fun in my life. On the other hand, I can't wait to live at home no matter if they aren't there! I am working at the Missouri Department of Conservation with the Outreach Program in the Digital Communications shop. I will continue to blog throughout the summer, so you will be updated.
Everything seems to be withering away, but I can't let my guard down quite yet. I have three finals and an eight day trip to Italy!