I spent four years in the US as an undergraduate student and had only been in the UK once during a family holiday in 2011. The trip left an impression on me. I appreciated how the UK is laden with historic and cultural sites everywhere you laid your eyes on – doesn’t matter whether you are in London, Manchester (very high on my favorite cities list!) or in more bucolic destinations such as Cambridge and Chatsworth (Chatsworth’s Edensor is the titular inspiration behind Andrea Hirata’s best-selling trilogy). If you’ve got wandering feet, the UK is ideal because it’s a train or short flight away from Paris, Amsterdam, and other European countries. On a more serious note, I was curious to experience ‘the British academic style’ vis-à-vis the American training that I am exposed to. From what I’ve heard, British institutions prioritize ‘depth’ in one academic programme whereas their American counterparts, through its ‘liberal arts’ dictum, tend to allow students versatility and ‘breadth’.
First, when I was in my senior year in the US, my professor recommended that I continue at Cambridge. This is because my Cambridge supervisor is one of the few anthropologists who specialise on Indonesia. Second, while I was also admitted to another university in the UK, I chose Cambridge because the program is a year faster. Finally, my department is renowned for its collaboration with other global institutions on research streams such as ethics, religion, social change, economy and morality (see https://www.cam.ac.uk/news/max-planck-cambridge-centre-launched for example). On top of my medical anthropology focus, I am also very much invested in these themes and aspire to be at a place that’d provide me with resources that cater to my varied research interests.
I appreciate the slower pace of British life and how I can roam and stumble upon hidden gems such as quaint book stores (slightly depilated, emanating the charming smell of old books); unassuming cafes where everyone you encounter is up for a chat; and (free!) museums offering centuries of knowledge.
In sum: your learning space extends far beyond the classroom walls. In the UK, I don’t need much money to feel like the wealthiest person.
With extensive alumni network, proximity to the best research centres and global institutions, and rigorous academic qualification, I feel that my UK degree will prove to be a solid stepping stone to get me where I want to be professionally.