‘Cambridge is like a fairy tale’Published 12:25am Saturday, August 24, 2013
By AMBER THOMAS
Stepping off the plane into the London Airport felt as if I was dreaming while awake. There were so many things to see and people to meet, but first thing we had to do was make it through customs. After several hours of following the sea of people and successfully navigating our way on “The Tube” to Cambridge, we had finally arrived onto the wonderful plains of Cambridge University.
Cambridge University is like a town from a fairy tale. The castles reached up to the stars, the bridges transported you from beautiful gardens to courts where kings once had stood, but it was not all fairy tales and knights in shining armor. My days in this town were filled with classes and lectures including a Nobel Prize winner and a world acclaimed cardiologist. I had a different lecture on a different subject every morning and night, some of my favorite classes were about cloning, a pill that would erase your fears, code breaking machines, and even a class to teach you how to build a laser.
What I learned most while at Cambridge is that anything you can read in a book, you can apply it to your life. When discussing waves during a lecture on lasers the phrase “For every crest there is a trough” really impressed me. Crests are the high parts in life, and troughs are the low parts. If you’re going through a bad time or low part in your life, don’t worry. Your crest is coming. I also learned that all adults have the gift of “mind reading.” This is called Theory of Mind. It simply means people have the ability to know that different people know different things. As a baby or child we do not have this ability. Mind reading is a trait we learn by trial and error.
I also learned about how people can be changed for the better or for the worse by being in authority. There was a study by a man named Zimbardo. He says that a loss of individuality is not replaced by a collective mind, rather it leads to a loss of control, and releases a person from internalized moral restraints to produce emotional impulsive, irrational, regressive, and intense behavior. He proves this when he selects normal college people who have had no previous incidents and puts them in an experimental jail. Some of the men he told they were to act as officers and some of them to act as prisoners. The experiment was to see how their role in society affected their actions. The results showed that most of the men in charge took their power too seriously by beating the “pretend prisoners.”
I learned so much during my stay at Cambridge. What impacted me the most were the people and their culture. My new best friend at Cambridge, from Australia, laughed at my accent and when I would say “y’all.” I have made new friends from all areas of the world. We experienced punting for the first time together. Punting is like canoeing but instead of sitting and pushing your canoe with oars, you stand up and propel yourself with a 10-foot pole by pushing the bottom of the river. On these punting journeys we would follow the Cam River that encircled Cambridge University. When we were not attending class we were exploring the little college town to see if we could discover all the secrets Cambridge held.
In Cambridge there are three museums, a historic chapel, and several beautiful gardens arranged to encourage learning. One of my favorite spots to walk past was King’s College which has been in existence since 1441. It sits on a hill overlooking the Cam River. The most beautiful view I saw was when I walked beside the river at night near King’s College and an unexpected firework show was performed announcing the birth of the royal baby.
The most important thing I learned from Cambridge was about my generation and what we have promised to do for our future generations. My idea is summed up by a quote from Dr. Sean Lang. He states, “This generation has a solemn trust laid upon us. We shall be judged by the way we fulfill it.” This means to me that every person on this Earth is born with a job that they need to or must accomplish. It is up to that person on how well they perform this job.
I would like to thank The Class of 1948 Foundation for giving me this amazing opportunity. I would also like to thank my family, friends, and past teachers for always giving me the encouragement to go after the stars. Remember, with God, all things are possible. If you dream it, believe it, and you will achieve it.