the Harlaxton Blog

Let the travel games begin.

I have learned that I am a skeptic and that my caution can overwhelm me. So it was a good thing for me when Michael shared his perspective on travel. “When you are a traveler in a foreign place, it’s much like jumping into somebody else’s board game. Everyone knows the rules except for you, and nobody tells you how to play along.” From that point forward, I began to observe how others go about doing things in the places where we went.

The earth is still the big blue planet with the laws of physics remaining the same, and people are still people, no matter where you go. It is the subtle differences in culture that make a traveler feel like a foreigner. Even visiting England with our common understanding of language, there are differences to which we have had to adjust. What we call pants, are called trousers. Here, pants refer to the undergarment. The elevator is a lift and you may also offer someone a lift in the car, but certainly not a ride. Chips are French fries, and crisps are potato chips. If you ask for what you want but don’t ask rightly, you’ll get something you don’t want, despite understanding the language.

France was truly a culture shock to us with the language barrier being the greatest difficulty. Despite always putting forth our best, “Bonjour!” our awkward attempts at communicating made it difficult for us to read their response. Never-the-less we made our destination to pilgrimage Giverny and were awarded a bonus round in discovering the largest collection of Monet paintings was on exhibit at the Grand Palais. What a coup! We picked up our game pieces and made our move.

Our next move was to visit the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and in the whirlwind of activity we watched with amazement the narrow busy streets, with its buses, autos, motorcycles and bicyclist weaving in and out of each other. Enjoying the showmanship of a street vendor’s artistry we picked up a “Voila!” and took sweet pleasure in sharing a crepe sucre.

With another spin of the dial we boarded the Euro star, moved our game pieces to St. Pancras station, London, hopped aboard the East Midlands to Hull, and landed on Grantham Station where we grabbed a bite to eat at Siam Garden then caught a street car back to Harlaxton sweet Harlaxton.

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Here’s where it began.

At the time I started to write this, it’s around 9:00 AM Hannibal, Missouri time, Tuesday, August 24, 2010.  That means it’s around 3:00 PM London England time.  Now I’ve heard all about jet lag but, for this traveler, it’s one of the first things that became apparent to me when I arrived at Heathrow Airport.  This is where jet lag comes into play.  We woke up on Monday, August 23 in Hannibal, Missouri, at approximately 5:00AM, and sprang into action, doing our prayer, Bible reading and then breakfast.  This left some time to get ready to be picked up by our dear friends and driven all the way to O’Hare airport in Chicago.

In no time at all, we were checking in our bags and taking off.  We were flying on an Aerlingus Airbus.  The flight was fine.  They had clever little LCD video monitors in front of each seat and the flight attendants were most helpful.  The trip was going well, except it would last about ten hours into the future at 570 miles per hour.  That means in London it was 10 o’clock in the morning, in our bodies it was 3 o’clock in the morning, with virtually no sleep for 22 hours.

Jet lag doesn’t seem to improve without rest, a good shower and a well balanced meal, so strange things can occur to the mind while suffering from sleep deprivation.  I began to remember that I was still on planet Earth and God was still in charge.  All in all, the Brits have been so kind and helpful.  The bus driver, who took us to our hotel, gave a thrill, weaving in and around the traffic lanes, driving on the other side of the road.  He was most kind and genuinely wanted to help us.  The adventure was only beginning.  The magic of Harlaxton was yet to be discovered.  After we had a good meal and a nights rest, we were ready to start our first experience at world travel.

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My Trip to Ireland

For my whole life, the only place in the world that I had an interest in traveling to was Ireland. However, I never really thought this would happen. If you would have told me a year ago that I would travel all over Europe, I would not have believed it.

My plane touched down in Dublin on Wednesday, September 29. My dream had come true. I almost couldn’t believe it. The next question was, “Where do I start?” My friends and I made our way to Paddy’s Palace, the hostel in which we would sleep during our short few days in Dublin. Despite the lack of hot water for everday except the day we left, this hostel was decent.

On Thursday morning, we made our way across town to City Hall, where we started a very informative, free tour of the city. The tour guide told us a lot about the history of Dublin, including where its name originated. Long ago, the Vikings called the city, Dubh-Linn, which means, “black pool,” because the water in the bay was very black.

On Friday, Aaron and I caught a train to a town outside of Dublin, called Malahide. I saw the beach for the first time in my life while in Malahide. It was beautiful. I then enjoyed a traditional Irish breakfast at a restaurant called “That’s Amore.” After our meal, we made our way across the small town to a park that was the home of Malahide Castle.

On Saturday morning, Drew, Megan, Aaron and I took it easy and slowly strolled down the walk by the Liffey River. We took so many pictures. Dublin is so beautiful.

By Sunday morning, I was on my way home. I finally made it to Ireland, and what an adventure it was. Leaving this place was inevitable, but I will be back.

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Teaching at Harlaxton

Teaching at Harlaxton has been more like a continuing of my own education. I’m honored and humbled to represent Hannibal-LaGrange College here in Harlaxton College. I’ve met and become friends with other American professors who are also teaching here. The students are hard working in their classes yet take advantage of the travel opportunities in England and the rest of Europe. From seeing the places in books to actually being in the places where the history was made, is a life altering experience. As an art professor, my stay so far at Harlaxton has only deepened my appreciation of art and culture. As a Christian, I have a greater understanding of the freedom we enjoy to worship our God. I look forward to sharing my adventures with all those who read this blog.

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Welcome to the Harlaxton Blog

Each year, we have a group of honors students who travel to Harlaxton, England to study abroad. I’m excited to work with Michael Clebanowski (this year’s faculty sponsor) and this year’s group of students to launch this new blog where you can keep up with their journey.

You can read more about the honors program here. If you have any questions about the honors program, please contact Honors Coordinator Sam Swisher at

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