The day started out rather pleasant, warmer than most days back in England, in fact. The nice weather didn't last long, however. Alysa took me into the city, and we had lunch in Chicago's Chinatown. It was certainly a relief from the refectory food! After lunch, we walked around a bit and headed toward the lake when the weather started to turn. It drizzled for a little while, then got really cold, and finally poured. At which point, we staked out the weather in a Starbucks. And when it didn't let up, hurried to a Borders, and then went back to campus for dinner. I was freezing for a while there, since, on account of the fake nicety of the day, I didn't bring a jacket with me. Bien sur.
Alysa's boyfriend picked us up and we went to dinner at a pizza place for small real Chicago style pizza. Mmm mmm good!
Early this morning, those of us not going on the college trip to Italy officially left Harlaxton for the last time.
The coach got us to Heathrow by 6:00 AM and we were at the terminal by 7:00 AM. Just as I had calculated in my mind during those many hours of boredom on Thursday. As is usual for British airports, we weren't told our gate until our plane had arrived at the gate, so we sat around in the massive duty-free area while we waited. We were all boarded on the plane by 10:30, but we didn't leave until 12:00 because there were technical problems. So, we were two hours late by the time we reached O'Hare and got through customs. Both Alysa and her boyfriend were there to pick me up, and we headed over to her apartment right nearby IIT's campus. The apartment is really very nice. Although, the building it's located in smells like a hotel. But that's partly because it's so new--2007. We hung out at the apartment for a little while, and then headed out with her and Julie's sorority for dinner. There was a bit of drama going on in the sorority, so it made for a bit of tension during the meal, which lasted until 10:00, by which time I was nearly falling asleep into my food. So, I was dropped off at the apartment and Alysa went over to her boyfriend's.
We the set the art show up this morning in the Great Hall, and the rest of the day was libre.
The evening was much more exciting: BONFIRE!!!
We went out to the pitch where wood has been gathering all semester at 7:30, which was a bit too light to start the fire, if you ask me. It was also rather chilly and windy. I've decided that the English don't know how to do a good bonfire. Or grill anything. The hotdogs we had were boiled even though we had a grill that was being used to roast marshmallows for English-style Smores. Marshmallows and Digestives (chocolate covered biscuits. And by biscuits, I mean cookies). Definitely sweet. A little too much, if you ask me. In any case, there was a TON of smoke with the bonfire because they were burning a lot of tree branches and dead plant matter along with wood, including a blue door and a mattress. The door was kind of interesting because it caused some of the flames to turn blue and green. Needless to say, the bonfire didn't last long, and once we got too cold, we headed back inside to study before finals Saturday. Saturday I have my math final, Sunday is English novel, Monday is my art portfolio review, and Wednesday is the British Studies exam. Then, I have a down day and an 8-hour flight to Chicago. I don't want the semester to end!! I'll miss England and Harlaxton so much! Well, maybe not the food.
Today is the last day of classes before finals. I finished matting my pieces, although I had to reprint one of my lino prints because, since the art room is so warm, my hands were sweaty and a I ended up smudging one of my nicest prints. Note to self: water-soluble ink is a nuisance. The new print turned out even nicer, though, so it's all good. I really like working with lino prints. I hope I can keep it up at home.
In the evening we had the Valedictory dinner and our Harlaxton Commencement ceremony (I still don't understand why graduation is referred to as a commencement ceremony. I guess it's because you're commencing the next stage of your life). The choir sang throughout the ceremony from the back of the little freezing cold church in Harlaxton Village (the same church I went to an Anglican service at in January. It wasn't much warmer inside since that wintry weekend. Still, my nails were beginning to turn purple by the time we finished). We sang the Tallis Round (which, when we first learned it, we sang about cats. This time we just said "lu" and "la"), Dou Way Robin/Sancta Mater (from the 12th century), Though That Men (written by Henry VIII), Salva Nos, and Jerusalem (written by William Blake). When our names were called, we walked to the front of the church, got our Write of Achievement from Dr. Kingsley and our Harlaxton Society pins from Dr. Snow's daughter.
The dinner was much better than the Costume Ball dinner, and we were able to eat in the Long Gallery because the lift has recovered from its bout of illness (the tech guy like to personify. Earlier in the semester, the red phone was ill). Awards were given out, and three winners happened to be sitting at our table: Colleen, Eric, and Stephanie. The other recipients were: Elise, Abby Knight, and Jesse. After dinner was a brief slide show with people cheering at every photo of them (reminded me of high school; there are some goods reasons why Harlaxton is sometimes referred to as Harlaxton High).
After the dinner and slideshow, everyone headed downstairs for the last bistro party: Graffiti. We all wore white T-shirts, and took turns writing on each other. Kind of a nice memento. The party was fun, especially once people started getting drunk and signing every shirt the came into contact with. Of course, some took it too far and started signing the walls. Don't worry; that didn't last long, and I wasn't one of them.
Friday, we will set up the art show in the Great Hall, so our classes this week focused on matting what we're going to put in it. I have six pieces and my tape shoe in the exhibit.
I also started filling out the application for a student visa that I'll have to take to the French consulate in Chicago. It took me three tries to fill the stupid thing out. First, I didn't write in French, which you're required to do; then, I didn't use block letters. I finally got it right on my third try, though. I'm going to have to make an extra trip out to Chicago this summer to get my visa, though, because CIEE sent my official letter to UE, which means that Lauren had to go get it, and since I need that and this verification thing from CAMPUSFRANCE when I have my vis-a-vis interview at the consulate, I can't get it done while I'm visiting Alysa. I wouldn't want to, anyway. I don't get to see Alysa enough any longer, and so I want to spend as much time as possible with her.
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