Current Student's Perspective about the Infinite Possibilities Available at The Gatton Academy

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Harlaxton 2016: Class and Recap of Trip

smith, tyler1By: Tyler Smith

I am incredibly thankful to the Gatton Academy for giving me this opportunity to study abroad. Although I have only been in London for a few days, a mere fraction of the full trip, I can already tell that this trip will be a great experience.

One of the best parts about this trip is the mixture of class and travel. We are given the opportunity to go out into the world and actually SEE the monuments and landmarks we are learning about, instead of simply reading about them. This is a much better way to learn the culture and history of classic literature as we can fully grasp how monumental certain landmarks are.

A great example of this is how we traveled to Jane Austen’s house. There we actually got to see where and how she lived, giving us a better understanding of what went into her writing process and why she actually wrote her novels more than if we had simply learned about it in the traditional classroom setting.

In my free time, I have largely ventured across London, seeing many of the great monuments, such as Big Ben, the British Museum, and the National Gallery. My favorite landmark that I have seen on this trip so would have to be the London Eye on the edge of the Thames River. It is not the London Eye in itself that was so impressive, but rather the scenery that surrounded it. The area is booming both with people and culture, and it is also situated between two foot bridges that when crossed allow you to take in an amazing, breath-taking view of London with all of its landmarks artfully protruding from the city’s skyline. It is by far my most favorite view I have seen on this trip, and its true beauty is not comparable to any photo.

Again, I would like to thank the Gatton Academy for giving me this opportunity as London has been an amazing place to see, and this trip has actually made me excited to study literature. Even only being nine days into the trip I can say that this has been one of the most influential events on my understanding of literature and writing as a whole.

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Harlaxton 2016: Oxford

saeed, sara1By: Sara Saeed

After learning about the works and lives of authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien in class Wednesday, we took a field trip to their alma mater, the University of Oxford, Thursday. After a hectic trip through the underground and an hour-long train ride, we arrived in the beautiful city of Oxford. Our first stop was a brief visit to Holywell Cemetery: the resting place of author Kenneth Grahame, the author of The Wind in the Willows.

13781948_10102782787349052_6010011144653400982_nWe eventually made our way to the university and had about an hour of free time. During this time, some of us chose to eat lunch under the shade of trees on the lawn, some played a game of frisbee with other tourists and students, and some even rented boats to go punting and paddling in the nearby River Cherwell! After the short break we were led on a walking tour through the university. We visited Christ Church College and New College, two of the 38 colleges and learned about Tolkien’s and Lewis’ roles at the university.

13690785_10102782789709322_6395983696932896734_nMany scenes from the Harry Potter series were filmed on Oxford’s campus, and one of my favorite parts of the tour was being able to recognize parts of the university from the movies. We walked through hallways and courtyards where minor scenes were filmed. We saw the original Great Hall and learned that they created a replica of the dining hall at the Harry Potter studio since Oxford students still use it.

Our tour finished up at around 4:30, and we were free to spend time exploring the city. For most of us, the first stop was the Bodleian Libraries. The Bodleian Libraries most notably had an exhibit of Shakespeare’s First Folio and original writings by John Milton, Mary Shelley, and Robert Hooke. We then visited Blackwell’s Bookshop, a stop recommended by our tour guide and Professor Rutledge.

The remainder of our time was spent shopping and eating in the town until late in the evening when we had to catch a train back to London. After hours of walking, many of us headed back to the dorm to prepare for another day of class tomorrow.

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Harlaxton 2016: Class and London Exploration

By: Logan Parker

parker, logan 2A heatwave has spread across London over majority of our trip, causing many restless nights and sweaty days. Our dorm rooms don’t have A.C., so comfort from the hot weather is few and far between. Many of us woke up randomly throughout the night covered in sweat with the blankets and covers sprawled across the floor. It’s worth it because we know that when we wake up, we are in England.

Whether we went to breakfast or spent a few more minutes watching the back of our eyelids, we all eventually made it to class. Class started off with student presentations ranging from major attractions to English royalty. We then finished our discussion on Shakespeare and The Taming of the Shrew. We finished off class by starting a discussion on J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and poetry.

After class, we had free time to explore London. My friends and I ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant we found on our way to our first destination of the day. Once we finished our meal, we went to the British Museum. The museum was packed and hot, but nonetheless, it was worth it to see the amazing artifacts and history. Navigating the London subway system over the past week has allowed us to travel just as easily as the London natives, so our trip on the Underground to Trafalgar Square proved to be effortless and quick. We planned to go to the National Gallery, but upon arrival, it was closed, so we decided to go take a visit to Big Ben, which was about a mile and a half away. On our walk, we notice the London Eye just across the River Thames. With an extension of half a mile to our walk and about an hour of waiting in lines, we rode the Eye to the top of the city skyline. The views were mesmerizing, and it was fascinating to see the contrast between the magnificent historical buildings with the elegant modern buildings. Because of the amount of money we spent to see the eye, we decided to eat a cheap dinner and went to McDonalds. We rounded off the day by visiting Big Ben, taking the Underground back to our dorms, and hanging out in the lobby of our hall. Ready to catch up on much needed sleep, we retired to our rooms.

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Senior Reflection: Lauren Pedersen

By: Lauren Pedersen

What defines success?” Walking into my interview for admission to the Gatton Academy, this was the last question I had expected. The many mock interviews I had performed weeks ahead where I recited my biggest failure or perhaps where I saw myself in 10 years now seemed fruitless. My mind started racing, trying to produce a clear-cut response. Upon visiting Gatton’s website, one would find quantifiable values that prove how “successful” Academy students are. We like to focus on the numbers: the 100% college matriculation rate, the 60+ credit hours received over two years, and the average ACT ranging from 30-32 throughout recent years. This got me thinking—was our success truly defined by the numbers that describe us? If so, my test scores, GPA, and awards received must have truly blended in with all of the other candidates. However, I did not want to be defined by such numbers, so I ended up replying that success cannot truly be defined because it varies from person to person.

Despite my ambiguous definition of such a simple word, the Gatton Academy accepted me both literally and figuratively. They accepted my constant aura of stress, my habit of buying meal plans worth of food that I obviously could not eat, and my inclination to go to bed at 11:00 every night. Through this acceptance, I learned more about success than I could have ever imagined. Success can’t be defined by “being” something but rather by “doing.” While we see this transition from beginning to end, we still like to focus on the result – the end statistic.

Sitting at my home in southeastern Kentucky, I have never been more homesick in my life—I’m homesick for the hills of WKU (although my calves may not be), endless Harry Potter movie marathons on the fourth floor of Schneider Hall, and kindergarten days complete with a parachute. While I have some regrets on focusing on my end statistic, I could not be more grateful to the Academy for initiating my growth and letting me experience that of my peers. I have watched the girl that was once too shy to order her own food, order 4 (sometimes 5) cookie pizzas a week. The boy who spent his first day at Gatton huddled in his own reclusive corner, ended the year winning every dance battle. A girl that had never traveled abroad before learned that Costa Rica does indeed have gas stations and that not all planes experience turbulent weather conditions. Through these minor changes, Gatton taught me that “success” is not necessarily synonymous with “best.” My advice to my juniors (now seniors) and all other grand-juniors to come is to try not to focus on the end statistic but rather cherish the moments ahead.

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Harlaxton 2016: Bath

By: Jonathan Kinnard

kinnard, jonathan 21Today we took a morning pause from the busy streets of London to explore the calmer city of Bath. Leaving bright and early (8:00am) with our bagged breakfasts and lunches, we departed via metro to then catch a train to Bath. The train was the epitome of European rail, with shiny smooth sides and a magnificent station to house it. Half of the cars were facing forward, and the other half backward, meaning half of our group (including me) had an interesting way of seeing the countryside. Once we arrived, Dr. Rutledge began by taking us to Royal Victoria Park where we had lunch. Then it was sight after sight of Jane Austen history leading to the Roman Baths. I think the whole group was stunned by the amazing history, view, and feel of the Roman Baths. I was shocked that anyone would wade into the algae filled pool until learning that the original building had a massive roof that prevented light from encouraging the growth of algae. We even had to opportunity to drink water from the underground spring. Next, we split up. My group went to the Leather Chairs of Bath shop and then Clandar Fine British Clothing to by our mothers scarves. We then left Bath via the train and had some free time in London. Dinner was on everyone’s mind, and Speedy’s Cafe was among the popular choices. With another full day planned tomorrow, many chose to go to bed early and study for tomorrow’s quiz. Another day in England well spent.

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Harlaxton 2016: Class Day and The Globe Theatre

khan, sherafghan 21By: Sherafghan Khan

This trip has been one of the best learning experiences I’ve had, and it has only been a few days since we arrived in England. One thing that I really like about London is the close proximity of different tourist hotspots and the ease of public transportation. To be honest, it feels almost unreal to be in one of the most infamous cities in the world.

Today started off with a quiz on the Taming of the Shrew and the life of William Shakespeare, followed by group discussions and a lecture on British culture. Also, Professor Rutledge discussed literary techniques that Jane Austen uses in her writing. He also told us that today is the 199th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. Derick then informed us that it was also Gatton RC Alex Sorrel’s birthday.

13690715_10102777254965992_1728169322715147541_nOnce class concluded, my group of friends and I went to a famous restaurant called Nandos. After eating, we rented bicycles and biked to the massive Hyde Park. Even though we got lost on the way and had to ask multiple people for directions, it was still very fun to ride in the streets of a busy area like downtown London. It was a different experience than riding in my local neighborhood, but I am glad I did it. One challenge associated with this was getting used to cycling on the correct side of the road, since British drivers drive in the opposite lanes as American drivers. After riding bikes, we decided to check out a local department store known as Harrods. Although, we didn’t buy any items, the Wi-Fi there was great, which like most American teenagers is what my friends and I cared deeply about. Once we left Harrods we rode the underground railway system to our dorms and prepared for what we had been waiting for all day- the Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theater.

13770521_10102777254936052_4128967702222862685_nThe seats were packed and a massive crowd of fans filled up the theater; it was show time. Finally getting to see faces for the characters I had read about was a dream come true. The actors did an excellent job portraying the different characters. Not only did the actors use the entire stage, but they also relied on randomly chosen audience members in many scenes. The crowd roared in a fiasco with applause when the play concluded.

After the play we looked for a place to eat, and since we didn’t have internet access this task became cumbersome. Finally, after searching for one hour, a friend of mine spotted a McDonalds. Even though we wanted to eat local food on this trip, it was good to finally have a little taste of home.

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Harlaxton 2016: Chawton, Winchester, and London

johnson, veronica 21By: Veronica Johnson

Our third day in London has come to an end, and boy was today (Sunday) action packed! Yesterday in class we talked about Jane Austen and her novel Persuasion, so today we visited the places we had learned about. Our group spent our morning in Chawton, our afternoon in Winchester, and our evening in London, so we were traveling all over the place and walking a lot!

We left early this morning en route to Chawton, where we had a picnic on a church lawn, visited the graves of Jane Austen’s mother and sister, and toured Jane Austen’s house. Chawton is probably the most British-looking place I have ever seen: we were surrounded by thatched roofs, sheep, chickens, and horses.

13606794_10102774342876842_1902588056614402373_nWe later went to Winchester, where we visited the Winchester Cathedral (the church where Jane Austen is buried) and completed the Keats’ Walk (the path that John Keats would walk daily). Along the path was a stream that a group of us waded in when we had completed our walk. The water was very cold, but it was very clear so we could see straight to the bottom of the stream: something scarcely found in Kentucky. When we got back to our dorms, we split off into groups to eat dinner and explore new parts of London.

The highlights of my day were watching crazy things unfold on the bus to Winchester, wading in the water at the end of the Keats’ walk, getting ice cream in Winchester, and trying a new restaurant called Cha Cha Moon in London!

A couple of days ago, my friends and I were talking about how crazy it is that we, as teenagers, get to travel across the world and explore new places with our friends. Being able to study abroad while still in high school is such a cool opportunity, and I am very grateful to be able to see the world while completing a college course. I am definitely looking forward to the rest of our time in London, especially going to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater to see The Taming of the Shrew!

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Harlaxton 2016: First Day of Class

By: Dylan Daugherty

daugherty, dylan 21There are two things that I absolutely hate in life: strawberries and waking up early. I’m always able to make exceptions though; like when the strawberries are covered in chocolate or on the first day of class. As soon as my alarm clock went off I hopped out of bed and into the shower. After about 20 minutes of bathing and trying to figure out British shower knobs, we headed out to class. Class began with our first quiz of the course. It covered one of our required summer readings and some background information on the author. Everyone was nervous but we all did just fine. Our wonderful professor, Dr. Walker Rutledge, continued the class with a lecture on proper writing techniques.

Once class was over, we had London to ourselves. Several of us headed straight downtown, but others preferred to nap. My group went to a small Indian restaurant on the backstreets. We then headed to the National Gallery and saw original works by Van Gough and Picasso. We were able to walk around and look at Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament. Other groups went and rode the London Eye and saw the Portrait Museum.

As the evening concluded, groups headed back to the dorms and rested. As Gatton tradition, we all found a park to play a game of Frisbee. The students returned to class to watch a movie of one of our summers reading. Our first day of classes has been a success. Eager for another day of adventures, we all headed for bed.

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Harlaxton 2016: Stonehenge

carroll, amber 21By: Amber Carroll

Today was an interesting day to say the least. I’m pretty sure jet lag hit us all pretty hard. It’s also probably a pretty safe assumption that most of us mixed up our days a lot today too. We left Atlanta around 6:00 pm yesterday (Thursday), slept less than an hour, and woke up to breakfast and the plane somehow landing around 9:00 am in England. I think I speak for most of us when I say that the time change messed with our heads. One minute it’s daylight, another minute it’s dark, and then it’s daylight again. Instead of resting like any sane person would do, however, we decided to rely on adrenaline all day to keep us going, so we headed straight for Stonehenge.

When you hear people say that England is cold and rainy, they aren’t kidding. When we got off of the plane, it was overcast outside. It then started raining on the way to Stonehenge and continued to rain until it was almost time to leave. We encountered something else that messed with our heads on the way to Stonehenge—everything was backwards. People drove on the wrong side of the roads and the steering wheels were on the wrong sides of the cars. You wouldn’t think it’s that big of a deal, but it’s a little weird seeing people pass you on your right side instead of your left. Despite being freezing, wet, starving, and sleep deprived, there were a few people that kept us all going with their positivity. After all, you have all your life to be warm, be dry, eat, and sleep, but for most of us, you only get this one chance to visit Stonehenge. Thanks to those people, we managed to make the most out of a once in a lifetime opportunity at Stonehenge and made amazing memories with our closest friends. Seeing Stonehenge was definitely worth it.

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Harlaxton 2016: And We’re Off!

ashley, katie 21By:  Katie Ashley

And we’re off! Our first day of adventure is complete. We met yesterday (Thursday) morning at the Louisville Airport, had a quick layover in Atlanta, and arrived in London this morning (Friday)!

Our group was split into two departing flights from Louisville, and even with the the long lines in the airport, our second group made the connecting flight in Atlanta. I was in the second group and we arrived at the gate just in time, as they had just started boarding our zone. I even had my roommate, who was on the first flight to Atlanta, go get me food before I arrived in the second group, so I could eat a good dinner and skip the delicious plane food. Despite all of the stresses of travel and its tiresome nature, we arrived in London with an eagerness to begin our quest.

I have been anticipating this trip for quite some time now and am sure the other students have similar excitements. We are all ready to begin our three-week journey with almost all of our rising seniors. Over these next few weeks we will be studying English Literature. We will reinforce what we learn in the classroom with Professor Rutledge with field trips all over England that relate to the author’s works we are studying. I’m sure this will prove to be a very informative, exhilarating, and at times exhausting trip; however, we are all ready to take it on in order to make the most of our time here!

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