The Cambridge Experience

Published 12:07 am Saturday, August 23, 2014


Andalusia High School graduate Sung Mo recently returned from a summer in Cambridge.

Editor’s note: Andalusia High School graduate Sung Mo studied in Cambridge this summer as a recipient of the Class of 1948 Foundation’s Claire and Murray Findley International Study Scholarship. The scholarship requires recipients to write an essay about their experiences. She is the daughter of Yeon and Gyu Mo.

This summer, I spent 32 days creating unforgettable memories and developing life-long friendships with amazing people from all over the world in a place built on more than 600 years of history. I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Cambridge, England, for four weeks with the 2014 Godwin International Study Scholarship I received from the Class of 1948 Foundation. I have always been interested in studying abroad, and I was given this extraordinary opportunity to travel and study my heart out at the University of Cambridge.

At the University of Cambridge International Sumer School, I participated in the science program. During my stay, I was housed at Gonville & Caius College, and I took science-related courses on various subjects such as early stage drug discovery, immunology, memory, and the non-coding genome. The courses were very challenging to me because I had not been exposed to most of the subject matter in my basic pre-med courses at Auburn; so going into the science program, I was slightly nervous about how much I could actually understand at my current level of knowledge when I considered the differences between Auburn and the University of Cambridge almost halfway around the world. Fortunately, I found the challenging courses very stimulating and exciting because the level of difficulty kept me focused and on my toes. It was truly mind-blowing to see how much knowledge my classmates and I knew but how little our knowledge is compared to all the secrets the universe still holds. It was incredible to be swimming in information that challenged the limits of my brain capacity and to be receiving this information directly from researchers and scientists who developed the ideas in the first place and who are currently continuing the research. It was a nerd’s dream come true, and there I was living it right where it all began.

I also attended many other lectures on a wide range of topics from astronomy to conservation, as well as history and literature. Each lecture was very different and thought-provoking. In one of these plenary lectures, the topic was transmissible cancers in dogs and Tasmanian devils. I had not known that a form of transmissible cancer existed before I attended this lecture, and it was especially interesting to me because I had been working with the Andalusia Area Humane Society just before I left for Cambridge. Another topic that was extremely interesting to me was a lecture on stem cell research. The lecture was delivered by Sir John Gurdon, a Nobel Prize winner in stem cell research.

I also experienced an unexpected blessing. One afternoon, I was wandering and exploring around the streets of Cambridge, and I happened to walk by a sign that said “Korean Open Church.” I attend First Baptist Church Gantt whenever I am home, and I was missing my church and getting a bit homesick. The church sign also interested me because I had not attended many Korean churches before. I convinced myself to attend the service the following Sunday. After all, it’s not every day that I have the opportunity to attend a Korean church in Cambridge, England. On Sunday, I was a bit nervous because I did not know what to expect and was worried I would do something wrong, but my worries melted away as soon as the service began. The worship service was very similar to those back home, except everything was in Korean instead of English. My parents encourage me to speak Korean in our house, and I was very thankful they did. I met some Korean students at the church after the service, and it was really remarkable how different we all were but we were all brought together at one place at the same time for one purpose—to worship God. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the church, and was extremely disappointed I could only attend two services due to my schedule. Being about 4,000 miles away from home, I felt truly blessed and thankful to have found a church full of sincere Christians with genuine, wholesome faith. I won’t be able to describe it in any other way—I was blessed.

My adventures of globetrotting in England this summer taught me much more than just the academics I expected from the University of Cambridge.

My experiences stretched to cover cultural, social, geographical, and even spiritual environments and taught me many things I hadn’t expected to learn during my journey. It really was astounding to me how much of the world I still have yet to discover, explore, and to experience for myself. Just when I thought I was taking in everything, I realized I’m only staring at a tiny portion of the whole picture from underneath my rock. With my experiences this past month, I feel greatly motivated and am eager to deepen and further my knowledge. I am sincerely thankful to the Class of 1948 Foundation for this wonderful academic opportunity and for supporting me through my travels to widen my visions of the world.

I am also very thankful for my parents who are very encouraging and constantly reminding me of my manners while reminding me that no matter where life takes me to always remember the place I came from.