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Experiencing The Magic Of BISC

Posted by Katherine Grandin on October 21, 2012 @ 10:54 p.m. EDT

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By Katie Grandin (ArtSci ’14)
Contributor

I’m sure I wasn’t the only eleven-year-old who woke up half-expecting a visit from a fluffy owl delivering my Hogwarts acceptance letter. Unfortunately my owl never came; I had to accept the sinking reality that I was just a mere Muggle. Little did I know that my life-changing letter would come nine years later, in the form of an invitation to study for six weeks at the Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.
I came across the Bader International Study Center when I was first looking into studying at Queen’s. I would be lying if I said that Harry Potter didn’t immediately come to mind; I was instantly drawn to the Hogwarts-esque castle. Though I enjoyed my first-year experience at Queen’s, I decided to broaden my horizons and applied for what would turn out to be the best experience of my life.
Before I knew it, I was destined to Heathrow to spend the first month and a half of my summer studying in a British castle.

Castle

Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England (Katie Grandin)


My excitement upon arrival momentarily faltered as I realized I was in the middle of nowhere. I quickly found the magic in this seclusion: the fairy garden, the Alice in Wonderland-like grounds, the domesticated peacocks, the Shakespeare garden and the real life Whomping Willow. It was all unlike anything I could have imagined. I was also spending my days amongst a fantastic group of people in a real 15th century castle.

Castle, England

Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England (Katie Grandin)

Womping willow

Our very own whomping willow (Katie Grandin)


Cramming my entire experience into six short weeks seems unbelievable now as I look back; it was busiest six weeks of my Queen’s experience so far. , I tried to live by the mantra that I would sleep when I’m dead (or at least back home in Canada). To call it academically intensive would be an understatement — completing three courses in six weeks is a rewarding feat in itself. Yet I was in Europe, and my feet were itching to get out and travel.
I took advantage of every chance I got to explore the surrounding areas, whether it was tagging along with a class on a day trip into London, extending a mid-term trip to Dieppe, France in order to see more of the country, or, when I felt particularly adventurous, taking a long weekend to explore Croatia. I couldn’t pass up these opportunities, and I’m so glad I ventured the way I did.

Louvre

The Louvre, Paris (Katie Grandin)

Dieppe

Dieppe, France (Katie Grandin)

Croatia

Croatia (Katie Grandin)


This trip has influenced both my outlook on life and my future. I found a sense of belonging in London; a feeling of home where I hope to live in the future. My eyes were opened to new cultures and the beauty of new places, leaving me with a thirst for more. I developed independence and pushed my own limits while navigating these new borders on my own.
Though I wasn’t given a magic wand or a time turner (though I really could have used one), my experience was magical and eye-opening in its own right.

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