A Castle fit for a Queen (Elizabeth)

Right then. I’ve been a bit silent for a bit long. (Like the whole “right then” British thing at the beginning?)

Although classes haven’t started, I spent the past few days in Great Park, the home of Windsor Castle. Great Park has historically been part of the Crown Estate for hundreds of years. Apparently, right after that whole Oliver Cromwell debacle, it was privately owned as Oliver went ahead and split the Park up to pay/thank his loyal followers. That situation was sorted only 50 years later when the follower passed, and the Crown took back the pieces of the Park,  put it together, and reinstated the Ranger of the Great Park in Cumberland Lodge, the veritable castle I spent my nights in. You can read more about the history on Cumberland Lodge’s website, but basically these days it serves as a conference/educational center to allow for (and encourage!) conversations that don’t necessarily occur in the classroom.

Briefly, the place was gorgeous. I don’t really need to say more. Portions of The King’s Speech (2010 winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture) were literally filmed in the rooms we drank tea in during the day.

More important, though, was the entire concept of the trip. Organized by the Department of Media and Communications at the LSE, it retreat brought together around 40 students from the three different MSc’s programs offered. I spent 3 days surrounded by brilliant, eager students representing a cornucopia of countries: Turkey, Norway, Denmark, Namibia, Gambia, Italy, China, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, India, … and the USA. Notably, there were no Brits. Even more notably, everyone was female save for one student who revealed on day 2 that he was a Jesuit Priest. As my new friend (we’ll call her Kansas from here on out) recently said:

the entire group, minus one attendee, was female thus proving that girls will and do run the world.”

PS follow that last link for some awesome photos, especially if you don’t like mine. Or don’t like that mine don’t include people ha.

The British countryside.

Anyway, the trip was awesome and got me thinking all about why I came back to school, the benefits of having my consulting experience under my belt as I reenter the classroom, and even just the joy of surrounding yourself with smart people who are interested in similar things. The first night, we all said goodnight and then stood in the hallway talking about everything for another 1.5 hours. The second night, we gave up the facade of “I’m going to bed soon” and just sat around talking, learning about each other and our homes, comparing stories/experiences/expectations, etc. until 2:30 am. This last idea proved to be not as smart when the alarm went off for lectures less than 5 hours later, but I’m certainly not complaining.

Peeking into the Library.

A statue of King George IV on the walk to Windsor Castle.

Full confession before I log off: I may or may not have dozed off during the first lecture, prompting a series of self-loathing tirades / a mountain of introspective concern (“what am I doing with my life?!”) / an hour spent convincing myself that quitting a job I was good at to do something apparently not good at was a great idea. Then I got to lecture number two, and was wide awake for the rest of the conference.

I’m going to chalk it up to jet-lag.


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