Kiitan Bolajoko is a 2020 Chevening scholar at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) where she is studying for a master’s in Public Health. She talks about her fears, expectations and experience of studying in London during the pandemic.
'I had fears about the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.'
I came to the UK to study for a master's in Public Health on a Chevening scholarship in September 2020. The travel restrictions had been lifted in my country and my school had just notified students that the first study term would be online. I had two choices, begin my studies virtually or defer my master's until 2021.
I chose to continue online, not sure what the experience would be like especially not being able to meet classmates face-to-face or be within the walls of my beautiful university.
I’m studying for my master's at the London School of Hygiene and tropical medicine (LSHTM). The most impressive thing was finding out how quickly the transition from physical to online learning was implemented by LSHTM.
LSHTM is home to thousands of distance learning students from around the world so they were no novice in moving studies online.
Living in London during the pandemic
Before I arrived in the UK, I was required to fill out a passenger locator form 48 hours prior. This form included an address where I would self-isolate for 2 weeks on arrival.
The isolation was easy as I arrived a day before my course start date - I got right into online school and didn’t even have the time to feel ‘isolated’.
After my isolation period, I visited parks, I toured the London Underground (great user experience!) and explored department stores.
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Making connections despite online schooling
One of my biggest fears starting school online was that I would not make friends as easily as if we’d been face-to-face. My school jumped right in by creating school wide social sessions, interactive seminars and group discussions. It was not hard to quickly become acquainted with everyone and in my fifth week of term, I was elected student body president by a group of people I had shared experiences with but had never met!
Academic Support like I’ve never known it
The instant I received my school library access, I knew that my academic experience was about to make a pivotal change. There are tons of resources made available to you through the school - books, journals, external courses.
Teachers are super approachable, and courses allow you to pick your learning pace. I have enjoyed the challenges of learning, debating and discussing with my peers in student-led seminars and zoom breakout rooms.
I am very pleased with how much attention to detail goes into making sure everyone is benefiting maximally and being on the decision-making board of my school gives me the opportunity to bring our fresh student perspectives to this already great set-up.
I am confident in everything I’ve learned on the course so far and I am excited for the next phase of the programme. The lockdown in London is being lifted in stages, this will give me more room to (safely) explore this beautiful city. In the coming months, I plan to visit museums and monuments. In the meantime, I am looking forward to getting to experience the culture here in London.
'I am confident in everything I’ve learned on the course so far and I am excited for the next phase of the programme.'