My first year of life in the UK, while a student at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine was as colorful as you might expect from a city known for it's undecipherable accent, crazed football fans, and pub frequenting (250 right in town!). I really enjoyed the opportunity to strike out on my own and be a "random Marshall" outside of London/Oxbridge--I think it gave me a real taste for a region of the UK I likely wouldn't have spent much time in otherwise. Liverpool proved to be the gritty, funky city I expected--and I got to see a bit of its face-lift as a 2008 European Capital of Culture.
My course in Humanitarian Studies was quite focused on practical, field-based experiences--and I found several of the courses (e.g. public health in emergencies, human resources & health workforce planning) to be useful exercises in humanitarian management. I really appreciated this focus, as it's quite unlike any other programme I've found in the US or elsewhere in the UK. Many of my coursemates (16 students representing 10 countries!) had extensive fieldwork and our studies were a great opportunity for exchange and cross-learning. These students, and others at LSTM with which I studied and lived, were definitely a highlight of my time in Liverpool and are very dear friends. We had great times--camping trips in Wales, first Thanksgivings (I cooked 2 meals--and no one was food poisoned!), many an afternoon tea over talks of parasites or intervention politics, and lots of international festivities--from Guatemalan dinners to Burns night! Studying in such vibrant, intelligent communities really adds a great deal to studying and living in the UK.