We caught up with Miaojie Yao, a Public Health student from China, to find out about her experiences of the course and how she’s found living and studying in the UK.
Why did you choose to study Public Health and why did you want to come to the UK?
My undergraduate degree was related to public health and I’d done some internships in this area in hospitals, so I wanted to take a master’s to broaden my knowledge and progress my career. You can study for a public health master’s more quickly in the UK than in China – here it takes one year full time, whereas in China it can take up to three. So I was keen to come over to the UK. I also wanted to live abroad for a year as I wanted some international experience. I had some friends who were studying at Warwick and had had a great time, so I decided to come here.
How have you found life in the UK?
Of course, life has been very different here compared to China, but in many ways I’ve preferred it. I’ve actually found the climate much better here and I like the fact it feels a lot more spacious with fewer people. I’ve also found the people here to be really friendly, helpful and polite. I’ve been living in Leamington Spa, which I’d definitely recommend. It’s a really pretty town.
How have you found the Public Health course? What has been your favourite part?
I’ve really enjoyed the course – I feel like I’ve developed my knowledge in a lot of areas and the environment has been good to learn in. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to discuss public health topics with the other students and share ideas. I’ve also enjoyed interacting with students who already have professional experience – that’s been very interesting. My favourite module was Issues in Public Health – it was varied, well organised and easy to follow. Across all of the modules I’ve found the other students to be very welcoming.
Have there been any challenges?
The language barrier has been the biggest challenge as sometimes it’s been quite hard to keep up in class. Warwick offers a pre-sessional English course, which was very good but the tutors there slowed down and used very clear pronunciation as we were all international. When you start your real course obviously that isn’t the case! However I’ve found that my classmates and tutors have been very supportive and patient and have helped me understand topics and terminology when I’ve struggled.
Which skills do you think you’ve developed?
I feel like I’ve developed many skills during the course. At the start of the course I particularly enjoyed UrEcA, which is a module that helps you develop an understanding of the concepts and theories surrounding the issues of research and critical appraisal in health care. During the year I’ve learnt how to critically appraise articles, analyse statistics and data sets and design trials effectively.
Do you think studying this course has offered any other benefits?
The course has provided me with a great grounding in public health issues and I believe the knowledge and experience I have gained will help me in my career when I go back to China in a few months. Of course, my language skills have significantly improved while I’ve been here and that will be really useful back home. I also think that living abroad, in a very different environment, has helped me develop myself on a personal level - cooking, cleaning and dealing with everyday issues in a foreign environment has been a fantastic experience.
What advice would you offer to other international students considering this course at Warwick?
I would definitely encourage them to apply if they are keen on working in public health – it’s a very informative and enjoyable course.
In terms of advice, I’d encourage them to practise their language skills – especially listening and speaking – as much as possible. I’d also tell them to seek support when they feel they need it. In China there is often quite a separation between tutors and students – students can be a bit wary of contacting tutors for advice or to ask questions. That isn’t the case at all here. In my experience, the tutors have been really helpful and have responded very quickly.
Finally, I’d tell them to make sure they stay organised and on top of their workload! If I was going to do the year again, I would definitely try to be more organised. This year I always seemed to leave my assignments until near the deadline. There’s a lot of work to get through, so you really do need to come up with a plan and make sure you stick to it!