What made you decide to participate in the HUE program?
I gravitated towards HUE for multiple reasons. For starters, the group tends to be smaller and more intimate; I really wanted to get to know the people I would be traveling with. I’m also a history nerd. I have always wanted to see the UK, especially travel to Scotland and Ireland. However, what really made me decide on HUE was that I wanted to stay in one place to immerse myself in the culture. You get to see a lot of different places throughout your time at HUE, but for most of the trip you’re living in the London flats!
What was it like attending HUE?
There was so much freedom! I think I expected our professors to hold our hand and navigate us around, but that was not the case. We had classes in the morning and a weekly meal all together. During our afternoons, we had picnics in the park, saw shows on the West End, walked around a market, or found a new tea shop. We had so much time to explore London.
What was it like living in England?
I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. It was completely the opposite of what I was used to. The “hustle” of the city is real. We always had something to do, something to see, and something great to eat! Some of my favorite days were our day trips outside of London. I went to Bath, Oxford, Liverpool, Windsor, Stratford, etc. It seemed like these days we got to experience the quirky British culture a little more.
What did you learn?
I learned a lot about traveling in general. I had traveled with my family prior to this trip, but I never acted as the planner or the decision-maker. I always had someone who could control all situations for me. The directors of HUE, Lauren and Tyler, really encouraged us to make the most of our time in Europe. By the time independent travel came around, we all felt really experienced and capable enough to plan our own travels after HUE.
How did you grow?
I am an extremely cautious person. Sometimes I think back to all of the things we did in Iceland, and I laugh. I laugh mainly because I didn’t realize how many experiences I was missing out on prior to HUE. Not to be cliché, but I truly started making the most out of all of the opportunities God presented to me. I tried every crazy food. I climbed a glacier and volcano. I drank the “out there” tea that no one orders. I took every opportunity to try all the French pastries I could find. I haven’t grown to the point of jumping out of an airplane any time soon, but I definitely grew in my ability to seize all of the special moments to the fullest.
How were you challenged?
I’m from a small town, so at first I had to adjust to a lot of things about city life. I wasn’t used to carrying a week’s load of groceries down four blocks and up five floors. I wasn’t used to relying on public transportation. I had to figure a lot of things out. By the end of our time in London, I felt like a local. City life is crazy and hectic, but it’s something I prefer now. After two months at HUE, I consider myself a city girl.
What was your favorite aspect of HUE?
The trip wouldn’t have been the same without the 2019 HUE girls. I left the Little Rock airport without knowing any of the people I would be meeting up with. As soon as we landed in Iceland, we didn’t have data or Wi-Fi. That meant we had plenty of time to get to know each other. Maybe it was struggling to climb a glacier together or taking care of each other when we all got seasick on a ferry ride — but even before we touched down in London, I had made seven new friends. I was right in believing that HUE was intimate and close. We laughed together. We cried together. We argued. Most importantly, we all became a family over the semester. It was hard to leave them for independent travel. Those meaningful relationships were my favorite aspect of HUE.
What is one standout memory from HUE?
I took COMM 1010 with our Searcy professor, Jack Shock, as the teacher. One of our assignments created a beautiful moment that I won’t forget. We were asked to deliver a speech over our family’s involvement in World War II. To do the research, I called my grandmother to get her dad’s story as a World War II veteran. A week later, I was standing on Omaha Beach, presenting about my great-grandfather’s experiences on that sand. It was emotional just to see the beaches and imagine what happened there 75 years ago. That assignment made the experience of touring Normandy even more personal.
What do you wish people knew about HUE?
I wish people knew how much of a multicultural experience this trip is. London draws in people from all over the world. You find pockets of different cultures everywhere. With the food alone, you can travel the world. We ate Jamaican, South African, Portuguese, Syrian, Indian, Italian and traditional English food. As for actual travel, I was able to fit in eleven countries during my time aboard. England is a huge part of the trip, however, there’s a lot more than just tea time.
What would you say to others thinking about attending the HUE program?
Don’t even hesitate. I can truthfully say that this is the most enriching thing I have done in my college career both educationally and spiritually. Nothing has pushed me like studying abroad. Plus, I don’t know another time in my life where I will have such little responsibility that allowed me to travel like this. Without a job or family of my own, I could dedicate three months to living in Europe, especially when someone plans it all out and you just have to show up.
How do you see the world differently after studying abroad?
After HUE, I began to understand what Maya Angelou was talking about when she said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” I found pieces of home everywhere we went. I found home on a horse ranch in Iceland, in our neighborhood coffee shop in London, and in the friendliness of the people in Scotland. At first,it was bizarre to find similarities between these cultures and my southern home. Yet, I found comfort in it. The world is full of differences we could pick apart, but there’s so many similarities that can bring us together.
Rachel Dixon attended the fall 2019 Harding in England (HUE) program.