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A trans-Atlantic friendship

Harlow Campus's role in the genesis of best friends – 15 years on

By Heidi Wicks

The Office of Alumni Engagement is reuniting two best friends who’ve been pen pals since they met at Memorial’s U.K. campus 15 years ago.

Alumnae Elizabeth Furey and Sara Inkpen will participate in a Harlow Campus online video tour on Thursday, Dec. 10.

From left are Sara Inkpen and Elizabeth Furey in Harlow, December 2005.
Photo: Submitted

Along the way, viewers will meet the friendly Harlow staff and view the campus and surrounding area while the best friends reminisce on the experience that sparked a lifelong friendship. Register for the tour here.

Residence neighbours

Ms. Furey (BA’08), who is from St. John’s, didn’t meet anyone in her Landscape and Literature Program until she went to the St. John’s International Airport.

Little did she know that she’d meet one of her future best friends, Shoal Harbour’s Sara Inkpen (BA’07, diploma in performance and communication media), during her Harlow experience.

The women lived across the hall from one another in the campus’s main building, The Maltings.

Ms. Furey says that one of her first memories of hanging out with Ms. Inkpen was travelling to London, about a 45-minute train ride away, one weekend to explore and then returning to campus to watch the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice together.

“We found we had so much in common that we became fast friends,” she said. “We’ve been the closest of friends since then, even though I still live in Newfoundland and she moved to the U.K. in 2013.”

“The connections you make with the material are so much more alive.” — Sara Inkpen

Ms. Inkpen has similar fond memories. She says the most “profound” part was the experience of being immersed in what they were learning.

“We visited the places where the great works of literature we were studying were written, or where their authors lived, and there’s no experience like it. The connections you make with the material are so much more alive.”

Ms. Furey says her time at Harlow Campus was one of the “best times” of her life – a large part of which was the program itself, led by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Drs. Mike and Annette Staveley.

An aerial view of Memorial’s Harlow Campus in Harlow, U.K.
Photo: Submitted

“It was an English and geography program, where we read classic British literature by authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare, just to name a few,” she said.

“Then we’d go on field trips to places associated with the author or novel. We went to Austen’s house in Hampshire, saw a Shakespeare play in his birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, and visited the Lake District, where William Wordsworth wrote so many of his famous pieces of British literature.”

Technology connects

Nowadays, Ms. Furey and Ms. Inkpen are bound to their geographical locations on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

They keep in touch every single day, though, by text, video calling and social media.

From left are Elizabeth Furey and Sara Inkpen in December 2019.
Photo: Submitted

Despite the thousands of kilometres between them and a 3.5-hour time difference, they remain the closest of friends – thanks to their shared formative experience of their semester learning and living at Memorial’s international campus.

“I’ll always be grateful for the experience, the adventures and the friendships,” Ms. Furey said.

“I always encourage people wholeheartedly to go for it if they’re considering Harlow. It was the best part of my undergrad degree. It was also my first time living away from home and I learned a lot about myself and the world around me, being in a different country surrounded by people who had different experiences than me. It was eye-opening and educational in more ways than just academically.”

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