My first year on the Marshall Scholarship was spent in a small town on the western coast of Wales called Aberystwyth. I studied international history in this beautiful, secluded, pub-ridden seaside location that is surprisingly cosmopolitan and filled with students from all over the world. Though there were times where I missed the comforts of the city, living in Aberystwyth was a unique and wonderful experience which I was completely happy with. From being part of a Welsh folkdancing group to watching rugby with some of the most avid fans in the world, I got a real feel for the Welsh identity and culture. Studying at this top-rated International Politics department in the UK was also a great experience through which I got to look at the world--and especially the United States--through entirely new academic and theoretical perspectives in a setting of dedicated students and impressive faculty members.
Joe Wells, 2004 Scholar, University of Birmingham and King's College London
After graduating the infantry officer basic course in Sep 04, I moved to the UK to complete two years of postgraduate education. I spent the first year studying International Peacekeeping at the University of Birmingham and then moved to London to study Conflict, Security, and Development at King's College.
While in Birmingham (pronounce Buhrmingum), I was fortunate to experience academic as well as athletic challenges. Academically, I was challenged to conceptualize issues of war and peace from a world perspective - much broader than the standard American debate between realism and liberalism. However, I was able to share an American perspective with my peers as I wrote on global political issues for "The Redbrick," the school newspaper. Additionally, I served as defensive captain for the Birmingham Lions, an American football team. We went undefeated (13-0) on our way to the National Collegiate Championship.
Living in central London is significantly different than my campus experience in Birmingham. I am taking advantage of London's museums, culture, and nightlife. I am please with my academic program and am engaging difficult issues with some of the biggest heavy weights in my area of study. After completing my dissertation on humanitarian-military relations, I will attend Ranger school in Aug 06.
Rebekah Hurt, 2006 Scholar, University of Birmingham
I like being somewhere less-frequented by Americans - it allows me to stand out, represent the program, and engage with British student-culture. I highly recommend getting outside the "golden triangle." Birmingham has one of the most diverse populations in the UK (and fab balti!) - there are always superb cultural events on for less money than in London. I enjoy going to the symphony, theatres, museum, and nearby Coventry, Warwick, and Stratford-Upon-Avon, to name a few destinations. I love the funky architecture juxtaposing Birmingham's gritty industrial past with its strikingly modern new look. My social life revolves around the thriving arts and letters scene and Birmingham's particularly strong LGBT community. Birmingham's African Studies department boasts West African print-culture gurus like recent grad Stephanie Newell and my faculty-mentor Karin Barber - academically, I can certainly say this is the best place in the world for my research. Birmingham's city motto is "Forward"; it's a very progressive place that continues to challenge me.
Peter Quaranto, 2006 Scholar, University of Bradford and University of Oxford
The Marshall Scholarship has given me unique opportunities to encounter new ideas and challenge my American perspective. Particularly studying international politics, being in United Kingdom gives me the chance to draw upon British and European perspectives on the issues of our time. The faculty of the University of Bradford's Peace Studies department is on the cutting edge, helping set the agenda for the EU, British Ministry of Defense, African Union and more. Moreover, Britain continues to attract top students from all over Europe and the developing world. The best part of my program has been interacting with students from over 40 different countries. I don't know where else I could stay up late into the night at a pub debating military policy or humanitarian intervention with people from across the globe! Most importantly, I've made friends that will be contacts and even colleagues for life.
Ross Perlin, 2005 Scholar, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Studying in Britain takes you places intellectually that an American university experience simply cannot, emphasizing rigor, self-reliance, and a scholarly sense of irony. As much as one may hear about quaint traditions and see examples of remarkable historical continuity on a daily basis, it is this serious intellectual tradition that counts most. A strong grounding in your subject and an expansive curiosity are simply expected, and you learn to respond to this expectation. Feedback from supervisors is generally neither too little nor too much; fellow students, in my faculty certainly, are future professionals; and the opportunities to train your mind are everywhere.
Social life at Cambridge revolves around the college- and makes it obvious how much happier are graduate students in the UK than their US counterparts. As a result, people are open and friendly, ready for everything from ceilidhs (Scottish dancing) to long, langurous nights at the pub (naturally).
Cassie Stoddard, 2008 Scholar, Gonville and Cauis College, Cambridge
It was exhilarating to begin my PhD studies in the Zoology Department at Cambridge as the University celebrated both its 800th anniversary and the 200th birthday of esteemed alumnus Charles Darwin. My research on bird vision and eggshell pattern evolution has led me to some of the UK's best natural history treasures: to the rarely-seen collections of the Cambridge Museum of Zoology, which houses several of Darwin's Galapagos finch specimens, to the Natural History Museum in Tring, home to one of the largest egg collections in the world, and to an ancient bluebell-covered forest outside of Cambridge, where I spent two months studying the breeding behavior of a small woodland songbird. Science aside, I have relished the opportunity to play violin in the Cambridge Graduate Orchestra and fiddle in the Ceilidh Band. Many evenings have been enjoyed with friends in my college, Gonville and Caius, where once we were joined in the pub by Stephen Hawking!
Julia Rafal, 2006 Scholar, Homerton College, Cambridge
My three years on the Marshall Scholarship were spent at the University of Cambridge where I completed a PhD in education policy. The friendships I made with my fellow Marshall Scholars are some of the strongest of my life and a few of them are even in my wedding party this year! However, in many respects I was fortunate to attend a college with virtually no other American students as I now have an incredibly diverse group of friends. This also afforded me significant opportunities to interact with impressively smart people with a multitude of perspectives. My second year at Cambridge, I lived in a house with three of my British friends. One of my housemates was chosen to stand as a local MP for the Labour Party, which made my year one of the most exciting and memorable possible. I had the opportunity to watch and assist a local British candidate go from a virtual unknown in his constituency to one with daily press and a significant following. One of the greatest parts of my Cambridge experience was the sheer number of theatrical productions I was involved in. I loved that I constantly felt challenged in my academic work, but never felt forced to drop my outside interests; thus, I never lost my fluency in other areas I felt passionate about, such as acting or marathon running.
Christopher Campbell, 2007 Scholar, Pembroke College, Cambridge
Oxford and Cambridge (or "Oxbridge" if you prefer) offer a learning experience unlike anything else around the world. The college system permits a dialogue between students of all disciplines, which is particularly nice for graduate students who have the desire to share their work with others. As a member of Pembroke College at Cambridge, I have formed a close circle of friends studying law, medicine, political strategy, and English literature. I spend the majority of my day working in the Control Engineering laboratory deriving control theory and building small airplanes -- work that I find fascinating.
Still, I am grateful for the opportunity to strike up a conversation with my friends about something completely unrelated. The greatest professors in the world, a gorgeous English setting, and an engaging study-body have made my first year in Cambridge an absolute joy!
Tamara Broderick, 2007 Scholar, St John's College, Cambridge
When I first arrived at St. John's College, Cambridge to study for Part III of the Mathematical Tripos, I promised myself to never lose my sense of wonder at the beauty in the UK. Luckily, the stunning architecture, slowly winding local river, and rolling farmland of Cambridge make this an easy promise to keep. Nonetheless, I'm disappointed that it took me a whole year to discover the Scottish highlands firsthand; don't let this happen to you! After three terms of intense, but rewarding, study with my mathematician peers from across the world, a two-week backpacking trip capped a perfect ending to my year. I can hardly do justice in this description to a varied landscape of rugged, jutting hills; dense, dark forests; thick gorse; and long, lazy lakes. But I'm thrilled to be conducting research within easy reach of such a place.
Marden Nichols, 2004 Scholar, Trinity College, Cambridge
I came to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2004 to study for a one-year MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums-and ended up staying to pursue a PhD in Classics. I enjoy living, studying and volunteering in the UK, with its many museums and archaeological sites. Here, legislation and community efforts to protect and interpret material culture and history are rapidly developing. I love walking in the countryside near Cambridge and meeting up with friends at the Clarendon, the Granta and other local pubs. The photo above was taken during my MPhil year, when I helped design an exhibition on ancient Peruvian textiles.
Lee Pearson, 2008 Scholar, University of Edinburgh and Jesus College, Cambridge
The MSc in Ecological Economics at University of Edinburgh has been enjoyable as well as intellectually fulfilling. With international talks on climate change and increased environmental awareness, the study content has proved timely as well. I have enjoyed the study of economics (more than I ever did engineering) from basic neoclassical theory, to environmental valuation and some of the critiques espoused by ecological economists.
Outside the classroom, I was involved with the international student society on a trip to the highlands earlier in the year; I was amazed by the rugged beauty of Scotland. I also have been playing pickup games of football/soccer with course mates, went to my first rugby game (Scotland beat Italy!), and am gradually improving my golf game with friends on the free course in the middle of The Meadows.
I am very much looking forward to studying at Jesus College, Cambridge next year.
Didi Kuo, 2005 Scholar, University of Essex and University of Oxford
I currently live near Colchester , a mid-sized garrison town east of London whose claim to fame is that it is the oldest recorded town in England. I am studying for a Masters in Politics at the University of Essex, a relatively young school (est. 1964) with about 8,000 students. The campus is tiny and unfailingly modern - think a few big grey cement buildings - and is set on the outskirts of 'Constable country.' While living in such isolation drove me nuts at first, I've enjoyed exploring the walking paths to neighboring villages and learning the history of the area. I usually socialize with others from my Masters program, which draws a primarily non-British crowd, and find myself constantly talking politics and exchanging questions with my peers about their backgrounds and life in their countries. Needless to say, studying politics with such a diverse crowd has really enriched my educational experience.
Blake Brandes, 2006 Scholar, University of Kent at Canterbury
During my time at the University of Kent, I have rapped with an international Gospel Choir, debated social policy with French youth activists, and interviewed world-renowned postcolonial scholars. The Marshall program has provided continuous support for my academic and extracurricular activities, and these opportunities have given me much insight into both my research and my life. From composing a compilation album with contemporary British poets and rappers to engaging with French street culture, I am incredibly grateful for the resources that the University of Kent and the Marshall program have provided. I know that I am building the foundation for a life of global impact, and I hope to one day be able to offer similar chances to young individuals who want to change the world.
Josh Geltzer, 2005 Scholar, King's College London
It seems rather ironic that, of all academic disciplines, the one studied most differently around the world might well be, of all things, international relations. I expected studying in Britain to be different from what I was used to in the States, but it has turned out to be more different than I imagined: scholars are interested in different questions, different debates, and different ideas from the ones that dominate the study of international relations in the United States. So, studying in the War Studies Department at King's College London has broadened my academic horizons and expanded my intellectual frontiers. It's also been quite a lot of fun, as students from all around the world not only join in interesting classroom discussions but also have a really good time in the vast playground that is the city of London.Kate Elswit, 2004 Scholar, Laban and Birkbeck, University of London
I think I would have missed something had I stayed in America, and I don't just mean the rain. The ease of flying may make Britain physically accessible, but it truly is another world. The academic research here is more self-guided, which requires self-motivation, but I've found it to be an exciting challenge and the work that emerges really feels like mine. Even if you already know what you want to study and you think you know your field, chances are that you will see a new perspective. We are very close to the rest of Europe here, but also far enough away to notice a distinct identity. I am from New York, but London is even more international. I'm not just saying that either; the fifteen people in my masters programme came from eleven countries. And I went to a birthday picnic over the summer where Happy Birthday was sung in eight languages.
Megan Towle, 2007 Scholar, University of Liverpool
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.
Jessica Hohman, 2006 Scholar, LSE
This has been an amazing year, and it has flown by much too quickly. Sitting in health policy and economics lectures taught by the LSE professors who shape many of the international developments in this arena was an incredible learning experience. Moreover, I am grateful for the academic freedom I had in my Master's program to delve into my specific area of interest, financing health insurance. Yet perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my year was the people I met, particularly while living in Goodenough College. Coming from places as far-reaching as Pakistan and Australia, my friends have immeasurably enriched my time here, and I have shared so many "essentially British" activities with them--from eating strawberries and cream while watching Wimbledon to enjoying evening tea at the Ritz. It's nice to know that after this year I will have many friends scattered throughout the world to go and visit!
Matthew Crim, 2005 Scholar, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London and Kings College London
I have had a wonderful experience in the United Kingdom thus far. I am pursuing an MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing offered jointly by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the London School of Economics and Political Science. The partnership between these two excellent institutions allows for freedom in course selection. The diversity of the other students further enhances the learning environment through formal seminar discussion and informal social interaction. I am also enriched by the community of Goodenough College. Here, I am able to compete with the rugby and soccer teams, as well as sing in the choir and engage in a variety of other activities. Finally, the United Kingdom offers an amazing array of opportunities to explore. From the plush velvet curtains of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, to the sheer, wind-swept cliffs of the Isle of Skye, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Marshall Scholar.
Natalie Kruse, 2004 Scholar, University of Newcastle
For a small country, the United Kingdom doesn't lack variety in educational options. From the other side of the Atlantic, the choices are overwhelming and deciding where to study seems a Herculean task. Often, when lost in a sea of university names, the lesser known universities don't get considered. I was looking for a new experience, not just an American community out side of the United States--I have found that community in Newcastle Upon Tyne in Northeast England. On my first day in Newcastle, I nervously wandered the streets in the city centre and found lovely pedestrian shopping streets and plenty of restaurants and pubs for nights out. I soon began to expand my explorations of this new city to the Quayside--what a beautiful sight in the middle of a bustling city of industrial origins. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the first Saturday that I lived in city centre when the streets filled with people in black and white shirts to attend a football match. Since I had never been to a proper match, my friends soon took me to my first Newcastle United match--what a blast!
Soon after I got to Newcastle, I joined several clubs and societies. I had played Ultimate Frisbee for three years in the United States, so I joined the Newcastle Ultimate Frisbee Team, Too Many Pies. The 'Pies' immediately included me and the other new team members in both sporting and social activities. We train several times a week and adjourn to the pub after most training sessions. Besides making loads of friends through the Ultimate team, I've been able to travel to tournaments all over the United Kingdom--from Bristol to Aberdeen. I now compete for five teams-- Too Many Pies (Newcastle), the Brown (Newcastle), Angels of the North (Newcastle Women's Team), Leeds Leeds Leeds Ladies (Leeds Women's Team) and Mushiono (Nottingham Women's Team).
Andrew Klaber, 2004 Scholar, Magdalen College, Oxford
The Marshall scholarship allowed me to pursue two one-year degrees at Oxford: Financial Economics and Economic & Social History. The academic breadth that I was able to cover in these programmes--through courses as disparate as Asset Pricing and Polite Society in 18th-Century Britain--has been both stimulating and rewarding. Outside the classroom I've had a blast as the Magdalen College bar manager during our numerous "bops" (read: parties) and training for the Valencia and Paris marathons with a fellow Marshall scholar.
The Marshall community is incredibly diverse in terms of talent and geography (my classmates include accomplished musicians, star athletes, and published authors studying in places like Brighton, Birmingham, and Belfast). Although we are spread around the UK (we have friends to visit while traveling around Britain), there are a critical mass of events--such as the glorious Thanksgiving dinner, the annual Marshall trip to places like Scotland or Ireland, and the year-end "Send Off" Banquet--that allow us to build strong friendships with each other.
Ross Baird, 2007 Scholar, New College, Oxford
I have completed his first year at the University of Oxford, reading an M.Phil in Comparative Government. I havedone extensive work with politics in the UK, chairing the Democrats Abroad Oxford as well as traveling the country with the Marshall Scholars Speakers Programme commenting on the election. My academic work has been on education policy, and I am studying economic models for supporting low-cost private schools for the poor in emerging markets. I have also played for the Oxford University Golf Club, representing Oxford--and America--in fixtures across the UK and Northern Ireland. Though I heard the stereotype about the "stiff upper lip" before coming to the UK, my social experiences--mostly through politics and the sports team--have led me to make some very close friends. The British are fantastic friends once you get to know them well! I look forward to another great year in the UK now that I am settled in over here--though it has been hard watching the American election from the sidelines to this point!
Emma Kaufman, 2008 Scholar, New College, Oxford
This year at Oxford has been challenging and rewarding on all fronts. Prompted in large part by my advisor's sharp direction, I have grown a great deal as a student. After visiting British prisons and immigration detention centres throughout the year, I recently completed a dissertation on immigration detention policy in the United Kingdom, which I'll expand into a larger project over the course of the next year. Outside of my programme, I teamed up with fellow Marshalls to publish the Oxonian Review of Books, took wonderful road trips around England and Ireland, and became close friends with Marshalls and Brits alike. Not surprisingly, the best part of the year has been growing close to the other students here; I've made friends I know will last a lifetime.
Andrew Cunningham, 2010 Scholar, St Antony's College, Oxford
Being a Marshall Scholar means to expect the unexpected. For example, I never expected to come to Oxford and attend a lecture about 'American Government' with Richard Shiff (Toby Ziegler) from the West Wing. I never expected to shake the hands of Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Oxford Skoll Forum discussing what it means to be a social entrepreneur. I never expected to be working with the Head of Education for Save The Children, Kenyan Ministry of Education and UNICEF in conducting research about innovation in education and school financing in the developing world. I never expected to join the St. Antony's College rowing team. I never expected that classroom-based discussions would be replaced by frequent long nights at the local pub talking about issues ranging from capital flight in Russia to theories of humanitarian intervention in international relations. And most of all, I never expected, as a person from New England, to attend a Royal Wedding and swell with so much love for the royal family. I cannot wait for more of the unexpected life of being a Marshall Scholar.
Tom Isherwood, 2006 Scholar, St Antony's College, Oxford
Being at Oxford studying the Middle East has been outstanding. My classes are often taught by people who write the books read at other universities, and everyone who is anyone in the field comes to guest lecture. In addition to reading about the Middle East and trying to learn Arabic, I have acquired new hobbies since arriving in Oxford - beer brewing and rowing. As part of the St. Antony's Brewing Society (est. 2006), I've learned how to brew beer starting with nothing but water, grain, and hops. Despite the brewing (and tasting), I also managed to brave the early mornings to row for my college. I've ended up with sore muscles and gruesome blisters on my hands, but it was worth it. Getting to see the sunrise over the misty river and then racing (and winning!) in the annual bumps races have been some of the most memorable experiences of my time in Oxford.
Matt Powers, 2005 Scholar, Queen's University Belfast and SOAS
This year I came to Queen's University in Belfast. It's been one of the best academic years of my life. I wanted to study ethnic conflict, and what better way to do it than walk amongst the murals and walls depicting hatred, then witness reconciliation, building projects full of hope, and the founding of a parliament? Queen's takes studying very seriously and practically, and the students follow suit. Classes were short, but direct and to the point, and the less formal pub discussions which followed were productive until about the fifth Guinness. Also, the Irish-Nor'n Irish-British people in Northern Ireland are amazing, open, cool people (though they admittedly have identity issues). I made some good friends - all of whom are going to conflict-ridden areas of the globe next year - so the degree was applicable to those who took it. I think the students that came and did their MA in Comparative Ethnic Conflict enjoyed their year here.
Morgan Carberry, 2004 Scholar, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Central Saint Martin's School of Art and Design
My year at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, where I completed my Master of Performance in Musical Theatre on the first year of my Marshall Scholarship, was truly the best year of my life. I was not only challenged as an artist but also given the space to grow as a person, surrounded by an extraordinary group of individuals from around the world in a fantastic city. From performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to attending my first Scottish ceilidh, the opportunity to do this creative work with these people in Scotland was an experience that has shaped and inspired me for the rest of my life.
Anne O'Donnell, 2005 Scholar, Royal Holloway, University of London and University of Oxford
One of the greatest things about the Marshall Scholarship program is becoming part of the extended Marshall community. My Marshall classmates have become close friends who continually surprise me with their extraordinary talents, and they live all over the UK which provides a great excuse to travel around the country. We've also had the chance to meet Marshall alumni living in the US and the UK who are experts in their widely varied fields. The Marshall staff in London is extremely supportive in helping us navigate the British academic system and culture in general. This growing network of friends and contacts is something that I feel incredibly lucky to have.
Timothy Krysiek, 2005 Scholar, University of St Andrews
Winning the Marshall Scholarship is a life-changing experience. Thanks to the generous support of the Marshall Commission, I am presently reading for a degree in Middle East and Central Asian Security Studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the UK. My time here has been most enjoyable. St Andrews is a small, ancient town overlooking the North Sea; it boasts scenic beaches, world-class golf and (according to local legend) the highest number of pubs per capita in Britain. St Andrews is a cosmopolitan place with students from all over the world. The friendships I have made at St Andrews and with my fellow Scholars are the most memorable aspect of my experience in the UK. Marshall Scholars are talented and fascinating people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. As a Marshall Scholar, I am part of something larger than just my course.
Joe Shapiro, 2005 Scholar, St Antony's College, Oxford and UCL
Highlights include: running a 10K race beside horses and cows in Port Meadows, a 900 year-old communal pasture which defies Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons; taking a coach to present research in Paris and boarding a ferry at the white cliffs of Dover on the way; debating international development and conflict at seminars of Oxford's Centre for the Study of African Economies; playing football in hail on Thanksgiving against second year students; watching thousands of Brits march with torches and fireworks to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day; and enjoying cream tea in front of a fire at All Souls College. Oxford's instructors give more latitude to read and write about many subjects than my previous teachers did, and Oxford's economics department sees more hours in the day for students to work than other departments see. If I were beginning here again, I would bring peanut butter: the British version lacks the tasty additives that Jiff and Skippy provide.Judd Kennedy, 2008 Scholar, SOAS and University of St Andrews
My time in the UK has been a fantastic experience, but not for the reasons I expected when I began. Arriving in a new country without a place to stay was the start of a difficult introspective period where I learned how to become self-sufficient apart from all the things and people which whom I was familiar. Gradually I adapted to the challenges of unsupervised research (no easy feat for a graduate of a U.S. university!) and became confident in my ability to teach myself and to contribute new ideas to my academic field. What started out as one of the most challenging experiences of my life has turned out to be one of the most rewarding - I have grown in ways I never would have imagined on my tip across the Atlantic. In the end, it's not always an easy experience, but if it were, everyone would do it!
Katie Huston, 2008 Scholar, University of Sussex and LSE
I came to the University of Sussex because I wanted to understand global capitalism and its relationship to poverty and development. The MA in Global Political Economy exceeded my expectations - top-notch professors, a critical academic orientation, and international classmates who bonded quickly and debated often over coffee or a few pints about how to best change the world. University student life is vibrant, and I played on the ultimate Frisbee team for a term before joining the orchestra. But there's enough to do in Brighton itself - I loved running by the sea and wandering through the quirky cafés and shops in the Lanes, or meeting friends at one of the more than 365 pubs in Brighton. I'm the "token American" among my friends, a very enlightening situation that's found me both asking and answering a lot of questions. And it's a brilliant base for walking in the English countryside!