All across Great Britain, she bumped into the villain

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ricks, left, in Trafalgar Square.

Ricks, left, in Trafalgar Square.

Editor’s note: Savannah Ricks was among the three students who studied in England this  summer on scholarship from the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation (formerly Class of ’48 Foundation). A requirement for participation is writing an essay to be published in The Star-News.

By Savannah Ricks

This summer has been the best of my life. It was a distinct honor to be selected by the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation to receive the John H. and Grace McMillan Estep International Study Fellowship and to enroll in summer school at the University of Cambridge. Where do I even begin to talk about the amazing places that I have seen, the delicious food I have eaten, or the fantastic lessons I have learned? There is no mystery why Cambridge is hailed as one of the best universities in the world.

I chose the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Programme, which was a combination of different sorts of classes. In my first term, I took two classes taught by the same professor and in the same room. How fortunate! They were Shakespeare: Hamlet and Measure for Measure, and Villains in Literature: “Something wicked this way comes.” The villains in literature class went into an elaborate analysis about Macbeth. I had already claimed this play as my favorite of Shakespeare’s works, but this class taught me so much more about Macbeth and increased my love of it tenfold. This class was far from the last time I would encounter the tyrannical king of Scotland in my studies. In my second term, I took Three Great Tragedies: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Macbeth and King Lear, and Making Film: Media Theory and Practice. Through these classes, but also in my independent experiences, I was pleasantly surprised to learn so much and in such depth about my favorite villain.

Travelling while studying at the university was an extraordinary gift. During the first weekend, Caitlyn Wiley and I, along with two other Cambridge classmates, made a Saturday day-trip to London. London is a beautiful, bustling city, and one can never get bored while walking its many streets. On Sunday Caitlyn and I participated in a Cambridge Excursion to see a live performance of Macbeth in Shakespeare’s theatre, The Globe. I do not have enough words to express how being in the Globe Theater to experience this masterpiece, made it all the more incredible. During the second weekend, I joined the other Andalusia students, Caitlyn Wiley and Maia Meredith, in more fully exploring the city of London. We went to Madame Toussand’s Wax Museum, the National Gallery, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Natural History Museum. The third weekend, I travelled on my own to Edinburgh, Scotland. The journey from Cambridge to Edinburgh was a five hour train ride, and I arrived late Friday. The train journey allowed me to see the change in topography of England from the south to the north and then into the lowlands of Scotland. My dreams of seeing the ground where my ancestors once lived was a truly touching experience. I explored the old town’s beautiful streets and went on a tour of Edinburgh Castle. Here, I saw the crown jewels and paintings of Duncan, Malcom and Macbeth. Here he was again! That night I saw my second production of Macbeth. On Sunday, I attended Greyfriars Kirk for worship, and the pastor preached on a quote from Macbeth. I then bought a ticket to see the Celt Exhibit at the Natural Museum of Scotland. I could go on for days about the beauty this coastal city. A few hours before my train left, I took some time to sit in a lush park and enjoy the landscape. The patter of raindrops on my umbrella and the noble singing of bagpipes transported me back to a time before skyscrapers and tourist shops, and I could feel my ancient relatives with me. My very bones knew Scotland was my native land. The United Kingdom is a gorgeous and antique country, and I long to travel there again.

I cannot thank the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation enough for having the forethought years ago to provide an opportunity for select Andalusia High School graduates to study abroad. As King Duncan states in Act I, Scene IV of Macbeth, “Only I have left to say, more is thy due than more than all can pay.” This is an experience that will be with me for a lifetime, and one I have promised myself to pay forward in the future!