Life Update // Moving to London

After almost 5 years in South Africa, I MOVED TO LONDON!

My plan has always been to move to London, but, I have to admit, the timing has changed a bit over the years. My original idea was to take a year off between Peace Corps and graduate school, but I ended up taking 2 years… oops haha, but I knew I’d eventually make it, and here I am!

I am a student at UCL (originally, University College London but now it is known only as UCL) working towards my MSc in Global Health and Development.

Why I chose the UK (and specifically, London)

When applying to graduate school, I knew I wanted to move to and study in London, therefore I mostly applied to British schools (with one American school as a back up). I applied to UCL, LSEKing’s CollegeSOAS, and Queen Mary. I could write a lot about why I chose UCL specifically, but these are the reasons I chose to study in the UK:

  1. I was ready to leave South Africa but I was not ready to go back to the States. America will always be there, but I may not have many opportunities to live abroad (that’s not necessarily true since my partner is foreign, but you get the idea). 
  2. Grad school in America is two years; grad school in the UK is one year (12 full months). I’m totally down with getting the same degree in half the time and entering the workforce sooner. 
  3. Grad school in America is over 2x the cost of grad school in the UK. My degree from UCL costs approximately $25,000. The same degree from a US school costs $60-$80,000! I mean, come on! If that’s not reason enough…
  4.  Alex is kind of British (it’s complicated), so the idea that we could one day live and work in the same country appealed to me. 
  5. I wanted an English speaking program and Australia and New Zealand are a bit too far away. Although I would love to say that I am fluent in more than one language, I am not, so an English program was a must. 
  6. The British schools to which I applied are ranked quite high, especially in my chosen field. Additionally, UCL is a top 10 school in the world! 
  7.  London is a thriving metropolis with such a diverse group of residents. I walk down the street and hear multiple languages and see people who are so vastly different than me (which I love).
  8. London is a world hub of global health. What better place to study global health than in a city so intrinsically linked to it?

The MSc Global Health and Development program


The classes I will take as a GHD student:

Term 1 – 23 September to 13 December 2019
Concepts and Controversies in Global Health
Research Methods and Evidence for Global Health
Power and Politics in Global Health
Health Systems in a Global Context

Term 2 – 13 January to 21 February 2020
Essentials of Global Child Health
Collecting and Using Data: Essentials of Quantitative Survey Research

Term 3 – 29 April to 29 May 2020
Gender and Health
Evaluating Interventions

Term 4 – Summer 2020
Dissertation – At UCL (and most British schools) the last term is spent as independent study working on the student’s dissertation to be submitted in September 2020. I completed a secondary data analysis of data from a Save the Children pneumonia study in Jigawa, Nigeria. I used multinational logistic regression to analyze the association between household factors, such as care-seeking behavior, crowding, WASH, and socioeconomic status, and malnutrition.

The modules in Term 1 are required courses, the modules in Term 2 and 3 are optional modules. I chose those to suit my interests and career goals.

I am really excited about my modules this year and I think I will learn a lot about global health. Although I have a lot of practical experience in global health through Peace Corps and my time in South Africa, I don’t have much theoretical training and I can’t wait for that aspect of my program.

Where I live

I decided to live in UCL student housing as a way to meet new people and save some money. However, I could not, at my age, share a bathroom with other people, so I chose a hall with my own private bathroom and a shared kitchen. I’m not gonna tell you which hall I live in because, well, stranger danger. However, I will say that I live in Zone 1 on the Victoria line.

I wrote a blog post all about the nitty-gritty of moving abroad as a student and how you can do it if you want – so check that out!


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