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.
We ate at the bakery again this morning, and then headed down La Rambla towards the beach. It was kind of cloudy when we left, but by the time we reached the sand, the clouds were breaking and it was lovely. The sea was still freezing, though. Only Carly was smart enough to stay out of the water. From then on, the day was lovely, and was actually warm enough from time to time that I didn't need to wear my jacket. I wish it would get like that in England. Maybe it does in the summer.
For lunch we ate at a restaurant Shannon's meet-a-family suggested. The name means "snails," and my Spanish/Catalan isn't good enough for me to be confident trying to spell the name. The food was very good, and I especially liked the bread; it was shaped like a snail! I took a picture of it, just for the memory. We had to order the cheapest things on the menu, however, because it was a bit of a pricy restaurant. One thing I've noticed about restaurants in Europe is that they're generally a bit more expensive than back in the States, and that the menus are smaller. Every place we've eaten at only has one page to their menu, while back home, we may have two or three pages, at least.
After lunch, we went up to the Sagrada Familia, which turned out to be not as impressive as I had in my head. It was still very interesting and beautiful, although I certainly like the older bits than the new stuff on the back.
From the Sagrada Familia, we went to Parc Guell, which was beautiful, of course. The mosaics were especially lovely. Carly and I finally finished our souvenir shopping, and then we went back to La Rambla for dinner.
Tomorrow we will arrive back at the manor just in time for the Easter Egg Hunt, but I may not go, I'll be so tired! We'll see.
I loved Barcelona, and I definitely want to go back and spend more time there! Especially in Parc Guell!
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