M1 Year Reflections: Dorothy Nakiwala

By Dorothy NAKIWALA

Time flies by so first! About this time last year, I was sorting acceptance letters and about to make “the decision”. It was not one of those draw from a hat decisions, no, unfortunately I could not afford that sort of luxury. A lot of thought was put into what was going to my grad school and my home for the next two years. This greatly depended on how things looked in terms of quality of education, affordability and the social environment. EHESP was that decision for me and having come this far, completed M1, I do not regret that decision and I feel qualified enough to give all you out there a review of my personal experience of grad school in Paris.

What a year! Of course it has not been a bed of roses but nothing unbearable. No amount of education can prepare you enough for a graduate program as engaging as an MPH! This year felt like being in one of those roller-coasters, characterized by sudden and extreme changes both exciting and scary. One minute you are in Rennes with Martine introducing the program, and another minute you’re back in Paris with a gazillion group projects, and then you’re spending nights up trying to decipher Pascal’s Biostatistics slides. In other words, the year was really busy and required a lot of personal reading and flexibility. This was greatly helped by the fact that the lectures were also from different highly credible schools and international health organizations all over the world with many teaching styles that challenged my rigidity. Their teaching approaches forced me out my comfort zone into learning how to work in a group, getting comfortable with presenting and looking at public health at an international level. I also commend how the program managed to condense that much information into adequate, comprehensible course units and syllabi.

On a lighter note, this year was truly enjoyable because the of people that I sat with daily in that very warm salle des Antilles class at Cite Universite. We have been a class of twenty eight with seventeen nationalities and along with them numerous personalities. Sometimes when class seemed too long, a joke or two brought me back to life. The multi-nationality aspect of this program is one of those unique experiences I greatly treasure; it allowed me to see public health through the eyes of every country represented in that class.  It was also interesting to spend time with classmates out of class, the extra curriculum activities organized both by PHIN and individuals also allowed me to know my classmates on a whole new level. Without a doubt, my classmates made this year memorable.

I am glad I chose EHESP and I am looking forward to M2.

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