I can't believe I've only been here for a few days! It seems like so much longer with all the things I've done. I got a good night of sleep on Friday, and Saturday we had several orientation and ceremonies to attend. They pertained to school and class, etc. We had a chance to explore around the grounds a bit and it still hasn't sunk in that I'm actually here in this place I've seen in so many pictures. It snowed on and off all day Saturday--enormous snowflakes!--and the grounds are beautiful.
Saturday afternoon we traveled into Grantham, a town about three miles from Harlaxton, and checked it out. It was such a cute town! There were restaurants, coffee shops, and lots of shops everywhere. It kind of resembled what we would think of as a downtown area. I ate at The Goose with my friends Mark, Jeremy, Jarrod and Clay. I made my first British enemy by asking a guy to move who had taken our table! Oops. Everything is done so differently here...we chose a table, then ordered our food at the bar. It was actually cheaper to get a drink with a meal, so the bartender recommended Smirnoff and Coke which was delicious! I enjoyed that with a "beef burger and chips" which was pretty good. We shopped at Morrison's, similar to a Kroger, and I got all sorts of school supplies and little things for my room like more towels, shampoo and conditioner, and snacks. When I asked a worker where the Q-Tips were, however, he was quite stumped. They're called Cotton Buds here! Makes much more sense. We caught the bus back to Harlaxton at 4:30. It's just a different lifestyle here...the accents, the food, the road signs, everything. It's so very neat.
The High Table Dinner last night began with "wine punch," which really tasted nothing like wine at all and was quite delicious. We were assigned to sit at tables mostly with people we didn't know, but the numbers got mixed up and we ended up sitting randomly--which turned out to be great. I sat with a few people from Western and made a new set of friends from the University of Evansville. It seems they have a similar group to ours and we may be traveling together soon! The food was the best meal we've since since arriving--grilled chicken with a type of marination, cooked carrots and potatoes, and chocolate cheesecake (I ate all but the 'cheese' part of the cake).
After dinner Clay and I called a cab to pick us up at 10:30 outside the manor; apparently, half of Harlaxton had the same idea and we were waiting on a cab for over half an hour. We decided we might as well live it up, however, and headed to Grantham around 11:30. We went to a night club called Vibe and it was quite an experience. It started out pretty slowly but once more people arrived it was basically out of control. It was so funny. It wasn't like an American club where guys try to dance with you; instead they just dance really close to you and stare, or right behind you without touching, so it just super creepy and you can't really tell them you don't want to dance because they aren't dancing with you. We danced in a big group of girls though (the ones I met at dinner!) and we had a lot of fun with it. I even danced with about a 50-year-old woman in what appeared to be a bathing suit tankini top. It was a night to remember.
After only a few hours of sleep, we went to the Harlaxton Village Church this morning. I now know what it means to be cold. The church was built in 1170 AD and looked gorgeous from the outside, complete with a cemetery on the grounds which was eerie but cool, and it was beautiful on the inside too. It had absolutely no form of heat and we sat (and stood) in there for an hour and a half. It was a very neat experience but I will never complain about our church being cold again!
Afterward I had some brunch and Clay and I went off to explore the castle a bit more. We were absolutely frozen from church and asked a professor, whom we refer to as the "blanket lady" if there were any blankets we could use. She stole us a couple of purple wool blankets from housekeeping and we found a room full of couches that we put to use quickly. We were awoken by Principal Kingsley, who informed us we were missing our first activities, and I proceeded to freak out knowing that I had missed something school-related. We ran to where we were supposed to be and it turns out we didn't miss much--I ended up signing up for basketball and the special events committee. It should be fun! We got our Harlaxton ID pictures taken and turned in a few papers they still needed from us, then ate a dinner of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding (delicious), potatoes, and chocolate ice cream.
Clay and I found a closet in the Entrance Hall which led to a secret sort of pathway that we explored and found little notes and tidbits of stuff in. It was so terribly creepy--I was expecting to find a dead body and second! As we were trying to leave, several professors planted themselves in a serious discussion in the Entrance Hall, so we had quite a spectacular exit, which I will tell those of you who are interested enough to ask about, later.
Classes begin tomorrow and I'm a little bit nervous but also excited! I'm ready to get a good night of sleep and get on a normal schedule and into a routine. We can begin planning our weekend trips soon which is so exciting! I added Facebook pictures today, so feel free to check them out. I'll write more soon! :)