(Members of Ravenclaw house outside the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour.)
Well, technically it was a Harry Potter travel course offered by my university- same thing, really! I posted about it this summer, and I just got back two weeks ago, and it was literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone and everyone, especially an avid reader and Harry Potter fanatic like me.
(Oh hey, Tom Riddle Sr.’s Grave)
The course was an honors course, titled “Deconstructing Hogwarts: A Critical Examination of Harry Potter in Context.” Only twenty students were selected to go, evenly divided into the four Hogwarts houses, and each house had its own academic discipline which it was examining the series through. Each house was led by a “Prefect,” an advanced student with speciality knowledge of the subject matter who helped organize and plan the course. I was lucky enough to be the Ravenclaw Prefect, and our house focused on religious themes and gender theory within the Harry Potter series.
(Ravenclaw house members in front of the British Museum in London, about to embark on a Harry Potter scavenger hunt!)
There’s so much I could say about the course, as we had eleven wonderful days in which to explore London, Oxford and Greenwich as well as visit historical sites where the movies were filmed, pubs where famous authors had written, and of course the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio Tour. Though the experience abroad itself was amazing, equally enthralling was the academic aspect, when each morning houses would meet at breakfast to discuss our latest articles, which ranged in topics from house elf oppression to J.K Rowling’s portrayal of feminism to the structure and function of the trinity archetype in the Harry Potter series. It’s an amazing gift to be able to use the critical thinking skills you’ve learned in college and apply them to your biggest childhood influences.
(Me at Christ Church College in Oxford at the iconic stairwell from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone…where Draco and Harry had their first fateful meeting pre-sorting ceremony! [Also excuse the awkward bulge…it’s my money belt.] )
My personal favorite days and experiences included our three hour Harry Potter walking tour of London (where we saw film locations such as the Underground station Mr. Weasley and Harry visit in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the visitor entrance to the Ministry of Magic, and Millennium Bridge, which Death Eaters are depicted destroying at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). I also loved,though not directly Harry Potter related, St. Paul’s Cathedral, having High Tea at BB Bakery in Covent Garden (I love everything about Covent Garden, I went four times) and trying out the Chipotle because yes, I am an American tourist and not ashamed of it.
(London Eye and Houses of Parliament, taken by me from a ferry ride on the River Thames)
All in all I cannot believe I had this experience. This course had never been offered before, so I didn’t attend my university with the intention of going, I just happen to have a really awesome professor for an adviser who loves Harry Potter as much as I do! It was also my first time abroad, and it’s definitely given me the travel bug to go back to Europe, especially London, which completely and utterly captured my heart. Until then, I’ll continue to relive the magic as our class gives presentations to local grade schools about our trip and through Ravenclaw reunions, until one day I’ll hop on the Hogwarts express again for another journey of a lifetime.
Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.