At long last have a few minutes to post notes about specific UK institutions I visited in June, as part of the NAFA UK study tour. (NAFA is the US professional organization for fellowship advisors, in case you were really wondering.) I will break posts up to focus on different institutions–otherwise, this will be absurdly long. Onward: day one was spent in London, visiting four universities. The University of London actually consists of 18 self-governing colleges and 10 smaller research institutes–see the full list at http://www.london.ac.uk/colleges_institutes.html . What great about studying at one of these institutions is that you’re also part of this larger consortial group, so as a student at one college, you have access to a wider set of facilities and services. Due to flight problems, I missed the visit to UCL , but there are a wide variety of very strong programs there and the university is in the top three research institutions in the UK (based on the 2008 RAE rating). UCL prides itself on interdisciplinary research (among other things) to address significant human challenges–global health, sustainability and more. I caught up with the group at Imperial College London, which focuses on sciences (engineering, technology, life sciences, physical sciences–all programs very highly ranked in UK and Europe, medicine and business. There’s lots of interest, for example, in the intersection between technological innovation and entrepreneurship–very evident, for example, in the bioengineering program we visited. Then onto Kings College London. Kings has programs across the disciplines (Rosalind Franklin was a researcher here). Some noteworthy areas: War Studies, Geography, BRIC Economies. And so as not to be outdone by US colleges, Kings’ also boasts a highly successful a cappella group All the Kings Men (listening to them now!). Next, onto the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, founded in 1899 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Learned a good deal about their school of public health and focus on lab, field and policy in areas of public and population health, epidemiology, infectious diseases, and tropical medicine. Learned a great deal about mosquitoes (they are most attracted to foor odor–and no, garlic does nothing. Stick with DEET). Also learned about a fascinating program to cure cataract-caused blindness in Kenya. See www.peekvision.org . You can see Dr. Andrew Bastawrous talk about the project here in his TED talk . Very cool project. Studying in London definitely has it’s perks–what a fabulous and highly international city! Arts, science, events–lots and lots going on. Downsides: definitely expensive, your housing may be quite a distance from campus, and there not so much of a “campus” experience of the kind you’re used to.