Overseas university spotlight: University of Liverpool (UK)
If you're an international student looking to study at a research-focused institution in a lively UK city with a thriving arts scene, look no further than the University of Liverpool.
I was really excited to visit for the first time, and it happened to be the same month that the city was hosting the Eurovision competition on behalf of Ukraine.
It was easy to see just how important music is to this city, albeit the birthplace of the Beatles.
Here are some of the highlights of my visit to campus in May 2023!
Liverpool as a city
First things first - do you like museums?
Liverpool has the most museums and galleries outside of London, and what's more, most of them are free!
I enjoyed the contemporary art at the Tate on a Sunday afternoon.
My favorite collection, however, was at the Maritime Museum (obviously).
Because of its location on the water in the northwest of England, Liverpool has long been tied with the maritime industry.
Titanic geeks like myself will know that Liverpool was actually home to the headquarters of the White Star Line company who owned the ship, and their beautiful building still exists today as a hotel.
So of course I had to check out the Titanic exhibit at the museum (though I found the Lusitania collection equally intriguing)!
Both the Tate and the Maritime Museum are located at the Albert Dock, a lively area close to the Liverpool One shopping district.
As a city, Liverpool attracts about 54 million visitors each year, and it's really easy to reach via a direct 2-hour train from London.
Whether all these visitors come because of its Beatles fame, the two Premier League soccer teams, the large amount of museums or the arts - regardless, there is so much to do.
I even came across a Sunday afternoon dance party, curated by the group Crazy P.
For students/tourists looking for nightlife, Matthew Street in the centre is where you'll find a lot of the bars and nightclubs, including the Cavern Club, famous for regularly hosting the Beatles in their early years.
Besides Albert Dock, I think my favorite area was Bold Street, which is where many second- or third-year students live (check out the Mowgli Indian restaurant!).
It's also where I found the best coffee -- at a place called Bold Street Coffee (get the avocado toast or mushroom toast, too!).
Two other honorable mentions for coffee shops would be the Lovelocks Coffee shop, not far from the train station, and 92 degrees.
92 degrees has multiple locations, but I went to the one on Jamaica Street in the Baltic Market area, which has clearly been redeveloped recently.
Unfortunately, the Baltic Market itself was closed on Tuesdays, but not to worry, another market nearby wasn't!
The Red Brick Market is located right by the Cains Brewery Village, which also looked very cool!
The Red Brick Market is a vintage market with a little bit of everything - and coffee, too!
I bought a ring, bracelet and earrings for only $20.
Lastly, if you're looking for a fun street that might be a bit less touristy and more locals, then Lark Lane just outside the city is a really cute option.
Students love studying in Liverpool so much that six out of 10 graduates remain in the city, and one reason may be because its economy is growing, too.
Liverpool's three universities account for 50,000 of Liverpool's 445,000 total residents.
Of this amount, 22,000 students are from the University of Liverpool itself.
Dating back to 1881, the University of Liverpool is one of the nine 'red brick' universities that were founded in the major industrial cities of England in the 19th century -- and in fact, Liverpool was the original.
It's also a Russell Group university, where research informs the teaching.
According to the 2023 QS University Rankings, Liverpool is ranked #190 in the world, next to the University of Florida, Vanderbilt University and the University of Pittsburgh.
I asked my student tour guide, Laura, an American student from New Jersey, what the study body is like, and she said her favorite thing about the students is this:
Although Liverpool is an academically rigorous university, the students are collaborative and not competitive; they want everyone to do well alongside themselves.
She also said students are driven by passions and not by getting a degree to make lots of money, which was nice.
And as a fan of jazz, she chose the university without even visiting because she had heard about the music scene.
In terms of its campus, Liverpool has a great location right next to Liverpool John Moores University, both of which are within walking distance of the city centre.
It's also next door to the strange and interesting Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.
The University of Liverpool has a distinct campus feel and is well-organized, with North, Central and South Campus being divided strategically.
North Campus is where mostly STEM students study, and it has its own library there.
Central Campus is where you'll find things like Student Services, the Careers Centre, the Students' Union and the Sports Centre.
Lastly, South Campus is more humanities-focused and is where you'll find the School of Law and Social Justice, the Management School, the Vine Court student accommodation, the Sydney Jones Library and the new Yoko Ono Lennon Centre, a large modern auditorium.
Mixed in are several student accommodation buildings, the most popular and central being Crown Place.
There is also a nice green space called Abercromby Square for relaxing on sunny days like this!
Year in China Program
Liverpool is a comprehensive university with a wide range of subjects, but one really unique opportunity is their flagship Year in China program.
Students from a wide range of courses get to spend a year in China studying fully in English at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU).
Upon completion, the degree received will actually change to highlight this, such as: BA Philosophy with a Year in China.
Nowadays, more and more international students are looking to the UK to complete their degrees in Veterinary Medicine, and Liverpool has an outstanding program and facilities.
It's a 5-year degree with around 180 students per cohort, and this past June, it gained the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) accreditation.
This makes it incredibly easy for a student from the U.S. to validate their degree back home.
When it comes to the program, however, the first three years of the course are spent studying at the main campus -- in really stunning buildings I might add!
It was also the first vet school in the UK to be incorporated into a university.
The final two years are spent at the more rural Leahurst campus, just 12 miles south of the city, where there are also two operating farms.
The curriculum is an integrated, spiral curriculum, where subjects like anatomy are taught and get layered on every year in a comparative way, and students have animal handling and clinical skills practice from the start.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to watch some clinical skills practicals taking place on how to draw blood, take an X-ray, etc.!
One of Liverpool Vet School's strongest areas is in conservation medicine, and they have very close links with the nearby Chester Zoo.
As part of the program, students also learn communication skills, professional skills (how to run a business) and sustainability.
They'll learn how to introduce themselves in a consultation, how to ask open questions, how to summarize and how to make people feel at ease.
Exams often take the form of role play, where they bring in actors to play the patients.
And one of the best aspects was the Vet School-specific extracurriculars on offer, such as sports teams, art classes at the Liverpool University Veterinary Society.
With tons of museums, independent coffee shops and music gigs to attend, Liverpool is an affordable place to live and very walkable.
It's also close to Manchester - only 30 minutes on the train - an international flight hub and an even larger city, ideal for a day trip or night out.
But it's not only the city of Liverpool that has undergone a transformation; the university is investing £800 million in upgrading and maintaining its facilities, too.
I loved the campus feel, the location, the beautiful red brick buildings and the collaborative perspective of students.
Liverpool as a city used to be quite industrial; nowadays, it is all kinds of cool.