M1 Year Reflections: Anna Tarkington

By Anna TARKINGTON

I remember the first day of orientation like it was yesterday. I was totally unsure that I was qualified to be in a room full of such experienced and bright young people.  As a Psychology and French major, public health was a new concept to me.  I knew from the very first day, that I would learn not only from this program, but also from my peers, who came from 17 different countries and had an abundance of backgrounds and experiences.

I am originally from Boston, MA but before starting EHESP M1, I had already spent a year in Paris, and the year before that in Prague (both teaching English to kids). I left the US a year after graduating from college, fed up with my bank, student loans, and extremely expensive health insurance.  Living in Paris is wonderful, but it is even more beautiful when you get to share your experiences with a community of likeminded and incredible people. This past year has been exhausting, working two part time jobs and going to school full time, but it has also been incredibly rewarding.  With each presentation I gave, a little more confidence grew inside me. With each conversation, debate and lecture, I felt my curiosity and knowledge of public health grow stronger.

For me, the most challenging part about this year, was trying to fit in the social side of school. I think I missed all but one of our PHIN events. I missed friends’ birthdays, group dinners and guest lectures. My work schedule was always in conflict, and that was really difficult. Life in Paris is not cheap, but I have felt really independent being able to live here on my own, pay my bills, and even save up for a trip to Malta over Easter and a potential trip to Portugal in June. One of the greatest parts about living in Europe are the ‘casual’ long weekend getaways to amazing places, that you can do without burning a hole in your wallet.

M1 of EHESP gave me an insight into what parts of Public Health I found more interesting and I am slowly starting to imagine the jobs I would want to get after graduating next year.  We had a range of classes from biostats to health management and everything in between. In addition to classes, I have also been assisting on the logistics team for the WHO simulation conference we are organizing in Paris this September (ParisWHO).  To see a group of my peers work as hard as they have and to be even a small part of it is incredible. I am so happy I chose to do the EHESP MPH program and I look forward to what next year and beyond have to offer!

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