Posey: Time in Cambridge ‘once in a lifetime’ moment

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017


This summer I participated in the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation International Study Program. As the recipient of the Foundation’s Mary Godwin International Study Fellowship, I spent four weeks studying at the University of Cambridge in England.

I chose to participate in the literature program. My classes included: Life and Death in 21st Century Fiction, Shakespeare and Love, Poems and the Unconscious, Three Great British Fantasists: Carroll, Peake and Tolkien, Romantic Madness, Jane Austen: Emma and Persuasion, and Understanding Other Minds through Fiction. Along with my two literature classes each day, I also had morning and evening plenary lectures with topics varying across all fields of academia under the theme of “Another Country.” While all of the lectures were interesting, my favorites included “The Ancient Roman City of Herculaneum” and the lecture on the Enigma code-breaking machine. My favorite class, and the class that I chose as the topic of my university-graded paper, was “Understanding Other Minds through Fiction.” This class focused essentially on the philosophy of literature. Although I found the class difficult, the lectures were extremely engaging. Thanks to my wonderful professor, Dr. John Phelan, I have fallen down the “rabbit hole” that is philosophy; fully engaging my critical thinking skills. I am now on my way to being an expert in the Socratic method.

On the weekends, I took a break from classes, but not from learning. Cambridge is a beautiful town that is full to the brim with history dating as far back as the Roman Empire, through the Tudor dynasty, William Wordsworth, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, the discovery of the Atom and more recently Stephen Hawking. I was able to experience this history first hand through the many colleges, the Fitzwilliam Museum, punting down the river Cam, watching the Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear and just walking down the street. I also took the opportunity to explore outside of Cambridge.

One weekend my fellow Andalusian Jeremy Boyd, our new friend Daniel, and I rented a car and drove to Bletchley Park, where the code-breakers worked during the World Wars. We were able to see both an Enigma machine and the Bombe machine (the machine that breaks the Enigma code and featured in the recent motion picture The Imitation Game) in action. Of course, I couldn’t go to England without visiting its capital. I took two days to make sure I was able to see the lesser-known sights of London. I saw the Crown Jewels and the place where Anne Boleyn was beheaded at the Tower of London, people-watched in Trafalgar Square, bought a last minute ticket to the Broadway musical “Matilda,” and explored Piccadilly Circus and Covent Gardens. However, my favorite rogue weekend adventure was in Paris. I somehow managed to pack all of the big-ticket sights into two days. By the end I was exhausted and my feet have still not forgiven me. I literally do not have feeling in one of my big toes due to my poor choice in shoes. It was worth all the pain to be able to visit the Muse di Orsay and see all of the Impressionist art that I have studied in my Art History class back at Auburn, including Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Courbet, Degas and Seurat. I went to the top of the Arc de Triumph, watched the Eiffel Tower light up, had tea and macaroons along the Champs Elysees and attended a service in Notre Dame in those enchanting two days.

However, as amazing as it was to explore England and Paris, I will say that the friendships I made with the other students were by far my most cherished memories of the trip. I met people from all over the world including, but not limited to: America, Australia, India, Lebanon, Norway, Austria, China, Japan, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Zimbabwe. In total, there were over 60 countries represented, including people of all ages and different life experiences. Everyone was very eager to talk about their culture and their homes and no question was off limits.

In fact, the more questions the better. There was even one girl at the start of the program who was hesitant about asking Jeremy and me a question because she did not want to offend us. So, I was preparing mentally for a real hard one, but turns out she just wanted to know what a “redneck” was! We bonded each night over our four course dinners and in our free time played pool, got to know each other and dabbled in a little bit of Karaoke. I have never been in an atmosphere so accepting and encouraging of differing opinions, values, and lifestyles. It was truly a blessing to experience that.

As my time at Cambridge came to a close, I didn’t feel like a tourist anymore.

In fact, if it were not for the cold and rainy weather I might have just stayed!

My four weeks at Cambridge were a totally immersive “once in a lifetime” experience that I will never forget.

I would like to thank the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation for providing me with this opportunity.