Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 15, 2015

0815 catherine grace searcy1

Searcy: It was an incredible opportunity

Editor’s note: Catherine Grace Searcy was one of three students awarded full international study scholarships to attend the nine-week University of Cambridge International Summer School in Cambridge, England. The scholarships were provided through the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation, and funded by W. Robert and Judith Brown; Murray and Claire Findley; and Mary Godwin.

A requirement of the scholarship is that the scholars document their studies with an essay to be published in The Star-News.

First, I would like to say thank you to Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation for awarding me the 2015 Mary Godwin International Study Scholarship. This scholarship provided me with an incredible opportunity to study abroad at Cambridge University. It was certainly a privilege to be able to represent Andalusia, Ala., amongst a diverse group of students studying in Cambridge. I am also truly grateful for the support from the foundation during my time at Auburn University; and because of this support, they have been a huge part of my achievements as a student.

Before arriving to Cambridge, I spent some time researching the university and the area I would be in to try to get an idea of what the summer might be like; but when I arrived, I was completely blown away. After traveling for what seemed like days, I arrived in a beautiful, charming town, and could not wait to hit the ground exploring. The first few days spent in Cambridge, I fought jet lag, but that soon passed as campus began coming to life. I could not believe I was actually a student at Cambridge University; a university that I had heard was of utmost prestige!

The first two weeks, I participated in the Ancient and Classical Worlds program. The topics discussed ranged from the ancient Roman Empire, to Egyptian religion and culture, and to the ancient Aegean Empire. One of my favorite lectures was about the rituals associated with ancient Egyptian burials; I learned about the process of mummifying and even held a mummified chicken leg that our professor made. In another class, we discussed medicine during the time of the Roman Empire, and it made me very thankful of the modern technology and medicine we have today. Throughout these two weeks, I felt as if I was in a different age. As we discussed how people lived during ancient and classical times, I began to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the information that has been preserved for hundreds of years.

During the last two weeks of my time in Cambridge, I participated in the History program. There was a great deal of material covered, ranging from the first British Empire to the events that happened in New York City on 9/11. We discussed topics such as art and architecture during Nazi Germany and religion during the Victorian age. During one class I participated in, we studied surprise attacks such as Pearl Harbor, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and 9/11. I was so fascinated by the knowledge of my professors, and their passion for learning impacted how I viewed the study of history. History is not simply old information, but it links us to our past and reveals ways to improve our future.

When I was not in class, I spent time wandering the streets of Cambridge. The center of town was within a 10 to 15-minute walking distance, and there were many quaint coffee shops, bookstores, and other shops to explore. On the weekends, I also had the chance to visit other cities, and my favorite was Dover. The beautiful beach with the huge white cliffs in the background was an incredible view as I, along with John David Thompson and Anna Beth Bowden, walked along the shore. Although my time studying at Cambridge University has come to a close, I know that I will always carry with me the information learned and the memories made. Reflecting on this unbelievable trip has shown me how much Cambridge felt like home, even for a short amount of time.