Atanmo shares Harlaxton experience

Baker students and faculty studying abroad (Atanmo third from left) visit the former site of the Osborne Chapel in Sproxton, England.

Baker students and faculty studying abroad (Atanmo third from left) visit the former site of the Osborne Chapel in Sproxton, England.

Whenever I am asked to talk about my Harlaxton experience from the fall 2012 semester, I’m always caught between where to start and how much to share, for I fear I might bore them with the millions of details I have stored away in my mental filing cabinet. I took this 16-hour flight across the pond not knowing what to expect, and even if I had, those expectations would be politely trampled on and replaced with ones that would have surpassed anything far beyond my imagination. Yes, it was that amazing.

As someone who has gone through life striving to make the most of every experience, encounter and circumstance, I am proud to say Harlaxton was no different. Whether I was embarrassing myself trying to speak French to a waiter, ordering snails and fried duck, or traveling to three separate coasts of Ireland by myself on a train, I absolutely have no regrets, just pleasant and lifelong memories.

I gained more than just a better sense of direction, as I navigated my way through over 15 cities and five countries on my own. I gained a greater appreciation for the country I live in and what it means to be an American. I gained a firsthand opinion of cultures from  countries like England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France and Italy. I gained incredible friends from other countries, and formed amazing connections with the other Americans and also Europeans.

What made it even more special was knowing I was in the amazing company of seven fellow Baker students: Corinna Papps, Brittni Sayers, Salyna Webber, Chad Forrer, Matthew Fry, Joshua Vossen and Zach Reeb, as well as two faculty members, Dan and Peggy Harris. I couldn’t have asked for a better supporting cast in those nine people as we all grew, traveled and experienced this journey together. We even had an outing to the town of Sproxton and took a picture with the donation plaque of the building where the Osborne Chapel was once located. To think about how it was shipped brick by brick and now stands tall at Baker’s campus is amazing.

What also made me extremely proud was overhearing another visiting faculty member whisper to a colleague how there is “certainly something special about those Baker kids.” And I may be a little biased, but it’s true! We have a standard of excellence that follows us from our humble Baldwin City campus to our study abroad destinations.

When I think about how I was able to balance academics along with the culture of Harlaxton and traveling, I didn’t look at it as too much of a struggle. Every single thing I did, every place I went, every minute I slept, or didn’t sleep rather, cultivated my entire Harlaxton experience. With all that we learned in British Studies, I was able to apply that knowledge when visiting monuments, and gained a greater perspective of not only the subject of English history, but also European history. One day we might learn about the castle of an old king and the next day we might visit it. We studied the culture and then we lived it, and that’s something that has forever changed the way I look at history.

If I knew how much studying abroad would change my life, I would have found a way to do it all four years. I am so amazed by how much I learned inside and outside the classrooms. It’s truly life changing, and I cannot say enough about how blessed and fortunate I was to experience Harlaxton, which was easily the best four months of my life.

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