‘Study abroad’ just makes you smile

Published 2:36 am Saturday, August 22, 2015


Editor’s note: Anna Beth Bowden 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.

There’s about the words ‘study abroad’ that make me smile – even the ‘study’ bit, somehow, is made exciting by the fact that it will be done in a foreign country. Studying abroad is an opportunity like no other, and it allows students to interact with peers from backgrounds very different from their own while simultaneously exposing them to the wonders of foreign travel. Through the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation, I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Murray and Claire Findley International Study Scholarship for four weeks of study at the University of Cambridge. Those four weeks were packed to the brim with memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

As an English major here in the United States, I chose to participate in the Literature Summer School at Cambridge. I took classes on a wide range of topics – the courses spanned the use of Fantasy as a vehicle for tough topics, to Yeats’ poetry, to the literature of the American South. The narrowed gaze of the courses allowed for close study of very specific texts and ideas. Additionally, I attended daily special subject lectures that came together under the theme “Comedy and Tragedy.” A different professor gave each lecture, and the topics ranged from Shakespeare to the Italian volcano, Mount Vesuvius. My courses were extremely interesting and thought-provoking, and I know that they will be useful in my academic pursuits at my home university, Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Studying abroad also provided me with the chance to explore much of the southern half of England. After classes concluded for the day, I would venture into the city of Cambridge where the narrow, winding streets were lined with shops, cafés, and other colleges within the University of Cambridge. An open-air market occupied the central square – vendors sold everything from freshly squeezed orange juice to second hand books. It will come to no surprise to those who know me that I spent a great deal of time at the book vendor’s stall.

On the weekends, I traveled with the other recipients of the Foundation’s scholarship, John David Thompson and Catherine Grace Searcy, to Brighton, Canterbury, Dover, London, and Ascot. My favorite location was Dover, where we walked the beach and hiked up the famed White Cliffs in order to look across the English Channel. Standing there, some 40-odd stories above the ocean, with the wind tangling my hair and the smell of sea salt in the air, I found it difficult to leave. London remains one of my favorite cities in the world, despite the massive crowds of tourists, and we visited popular spots like the National Gallery and the Tower of London during our second weekend abroad. The third weekend, John David and I chose to take the train to Ascot, where the King George VI Weekend was taking place at the Ascot Racecourse. Each location we visited was unforgettable.

England is a joy to travel around – there’s something in the way the country carries the weight of its own history, whether that history lies in the buildings of War-era England or the Roman ruins or the Celtic castles. I am grateful for the amazing opportunity the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation and Murray and Claire Findley have provided me; the days and nights I spent in England will stay with me for years to come, and the knowledge gained at the prestigious University of Cambridge will help me achieve my own academic goals.