The Adventures of Shakespeare and Harry Potter

When I first told my friends I was studying abroad in England, they assumed 1 of 2 things: 1) that I would be studying in London or 2) that I would be attending Hogwarts. (I’m pretty sure a number of them still believe one of those to be true). As it turns out, England has more cities than just London, and I was never accepted into the wizardry program at Hogwarts. Apparently, I come from a long line of Muggles and have no magical abilities. It might also have something to do with the fact that Hogwarts is not actually a real school… (I know-I said it).

Still, thanks to the Harry Potter movies, pieces of Hogwarts do “exist”. This weekend I traveled to Oxford and visited the University-the site of many Hogwarts scenes in the films. You can only imagine how a Hermione Granger-wannabe, like myself, was loving every moment of it.

Here’s a picture of me on the staircase where Professor McGonagall first greets Harry and the other first years in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Too bad I didn’t actually see her at the top of the stairs…

Still, this was what was waiting for us at the top:

The Great Hall! This room was replicated for the set of Hogwart’s Great Hall in all of the HP movies. Imagine if Pops, Rheta’s, or really any university dining hall looked like that…perhaps the food wouldn’t taste so bad…

After a day in Oxford, a few of us traveled to Warwick to see one of the most well-preserved castles in all of the UK. While the castle had a bit of a Disney World feel to it, with hotdog stands, archery booths, and men dressed up as knights, I couldn’t get enough of it. I took at least a hundred pictures of the castle, each one looking the almost same as the last, but I couldn’t help it. Not even a hundred pictures could capture what I was feeling…Just beyond the castle, there was a big park with some people volleying at the tennis courts. I couldn’t help but think what it would be like to play a game of tennis, with a giant castle illuminating the horizon. I don’t think I’d be able to keep my eyes on the ball. However, people from the UK seem to be immune to the sight of castles, seeing as almost every city seems to have one. But for me, I don’t think it would ever get old. I told my parents, if Green Bay, Wisconsin looked anything like this, I’d be more than thrilled to return for the summer…

Warwick Castle on the River Avon. Voted one of the best views in all of England.

View from top of Warwick castle.

After what seemed like minimal time at Warwick, we took a short bus ride to Stratford upon Avon-Shakespeare’s hometown. Basically, the only thing to do in Stratford is see where Shakespeare grew up, kick it with him at his grave, pretend you’ve read more of his plays than the few you read in high school, and recite all your favorite Shakespeare quotes.

Here’s my favorite from The Merchant of Venice:

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,

dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with

the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject

to the same diseases, healed by the same means,

warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as

a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?

if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison

us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not


This is where the genius himself is buried.

Anyway, after an eventful and sunny weekend, I’m back in Leeds. The sun has left, and it is raining as usual (which makes training outside for the Leeds Half Marathon extremely pleasant). But with all this traveling, I tend to forget I have a nice load of schoolwork waiting for me. After about 6 weeks of being here, I finally went to the library the other day. (My parents were so proud). I think it’s about time I get out the umbrella and trek to the library once again… Until next time!