In honour of the 5th Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, (which I will be seeing tonight at 12:01!!!) I’m prepared to make another confession: A lot of my big decisions in life have been based on Harry Potter. You may think, “Pfft how is that even possible?”
Oh, it is my friends. And here is how:
Big Decision #1: British Boarding School? YES PLEASE!
It was the 1999/2000 school year (so the first two Harry Potters had been published, the third was on its way) and I was stuck in grade 10 at The Linden School, a terrible (for reasons which I won’t get into now) all-girls “women-centred” school in a Toronto alley. By November 1999 I rarely went into school, and did most of my school work at home, showing up to hand things in, or write exams, if I had to. If I was in school, I would be hiding out in the dark room, or crying under desks. You know how it is.
In spite of this anti academic behaviour I still managed to do fairly well (80-something percent average). I knew I just had to stick out the school year and I would be far far away, probably at North Toronto Collegiate Institute, taking exciting subjects like Spanish, Latin and Urban Geography. I could smell my locker already!
Sometime in January my Dad received a letter from his old boarding school. It was celebrating its 400th birthday! He was invited to get down and boogie in style with his old school friends and the Queen of England’s sister! Unfortunately he couldn’t make it, but he and my Mother came up with the bright idea that maybe, just maybe, I’d want to go and finish up high school at this English boarding school. I remember standing in the front hallway on my way to school (probably around noonish…) and both my parents turned to me and said “We have a serious question for you, Maggie. What do you think about going to Aldenham? Your father’s old boarding school in England?” I literally blinked twice and with thoughts of Dumbledore in my head I said “YES!!!”. They both looked at me, faces tinged with horrified surprise, before making me promise I’d “actually think about it for a day or so”.
So all day I hung out with my friends discussing how I was going to be JUST LIKE HARRY POTTER, except sadly without the magic and cloaks and stuff. Then I got home and called all my friends, and discussed how awesome Hogwarts, I mean Aldenham was going to be.
I applied, and having a father and grand-father precede me as students, I was accepted with open arms and a 50% bursary! After finishing up exams in June at Linden, my parents and I trudged off to England to visit the school, just to be 100% sure I wanted to go. I met the headmaster, my house master and some fellow pupils. I was set!
And come September 2000 I begun my A-Levels at a boarding school just outside of London, England. It was everything I wanted it to be, and then some!
Big Decision #2: UBC vs University of Durham
In my final year of NEWTS, I mean, A-Levels, I applied to McGill, University of Toronto and UBC. Easy.
But when applying for universities in the UK, I had absolutley no idea which were good or bad. I applied for Reading cos it sounded funny. Oxford Brooks cos I figured if I failed EVERYTHING I’d still get in. Exeter because it was on the coast. Bristol because it sounded fancy (which it was).
It was entirely by luck I applied for Durham, and even luckier that when I went up for their “open weekend”, Harry Potter was being filmed there on location. My fate was sealed the moment I saw Ron, Harry and Harmione, fully cloaked and wanded, trundle around the Castle and Cathedral grounds. My thought process went as follows: “I can LIVE in a castle?!?! A CASTLE THAT HARRY POTTER WAS FILMED IN!?!?! Sign me up!” So I applied for Philosophy and Politics, pulled the marks and went. Luckily Durham is an excellent university, though notably known alongside Bristol and St Andrews as full of Oxford and Cambridge rejects.
Now I can say: “Yeah that’s right, the courtyard and entrance to Dumbledore’s office is where I went to university”.
Way better than: “Yeah I have a BA Honours in Philosophy and Politics”.
Big Decision #3: I dated Harry Potter, for serious.
Well not really, but I swear to you he looks just like him, though more from my imagination inspired from the book, than a Daniel Radcliff look-a-like. But seriously, you look at him, you think “where’s the scar”? I can’t say I dated him for those two years because he looked like Harry Potter, but it certainly added to his charm.
Those are my three rather big life changing decisions that I made pretty much entirely based on my love for the Harry Potter stories. Judge me as you will, just know that it worked out incredibly well.
Harry Potter FTW.