Journey to the Centre of Campus- Departure and Arrival

January 14, 2015

IMG_3770This day has loomed over me with mixed feelings of nerves, excitement and exhaustion. The hours leading up to the actual flight always seem the longest.

I’ve made my packing and to do lists and checked them off (hopefully with none missing). Here are some of my essentials that were found on my packing list that you may have not thought about: Read the rest of this entry »

Journey to the Center of Campus

January 7, 2015

LSHTM logoPsychologists say it takes less than a tenth of a second to make a first impression judgement. My goal is to capture your attention for a bit longer than this and hook you on the first entry of my ‘Blended Learning’ series. My aim is to showcase possibilities and practical resources for other distance learners who may want to or will be studying on campus.

Jillian KowalchukNow for a little about me…

My name is Jillian Kowalchuk and I am in my second year and final year of the MSc Public Health programme. It has been an intense endeavor taking six modules, juggling work and social obligations my first year. I am undertaking three distance courses, I will be taking two blended learning modules starting mid January, while working on my thesis project. I have structured my last year to have a bit of a ‘break’ from the distance learning and change locations and learning dynamics for a few months. Read the rest of this entry »

“Priorities, people!! Priorities!!” he squawked…

December 8, 2014

Changed priorities aheadIf you ask my Mum what life was like with me as a teenager, one of the things she’ll likely mention was her critical role as the ‘No Police’ as she liked to call it. She spent a fair bit of time helping me to say ‘no’ to the plethora of opportunities I managed to drum up for myself… and mopping up the proverbial mess when I still managed to overcommit when she wasn’t looking.

I don’t think I’m alone in the fact that I’m more than minorly addicted to overcommitting myself and biting off more than I can chew.

And occasionally it all comes to a head and it’s time to prioritize.

Read the rest of this entry »

Better done than perfect! Studying in the gaps…

October 24, 2014

Oh, did the academic year start again already?! Yikes… I must have missed the memo… or it could have something to do with my mushy postpartum brain.

A week before the school year began again, our little boy made his entrance into the world and he’s now a month old.  We’re vaguely ‘emerging’ from that postpartum haze and hubby has been waiting on me hand and foot, becoming quite the Jamie Oliver, and being a total star champ A+ support.

I’ve spoken before on this blog about how much I appreciate the flexibility of the UoL programme, and that couldn’t be more so the case than now. Now that I’m a brand new Mum, with all the uncertainty that entails, to know that I can just chip away at whatever I can manage, and defer whatever I can’t, is a real relief!

Read the rest of this entry »

Tears and Sanitation

October 13, 2014

Children drink water at the Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan.

Children drink water at the Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan.

Hello all. I hope everyone else was as pleased with their exam results as I was. Logistical issues as alluded to in a previous post notwithstanding, I passed all three of my exams and even, dare I say it, did quite well. With that in hand and my interest in the subject continuing to grow, I’ve decided to switch to the full MSc in Public Health (general stream), rather than just doing the PG Cert. Quite a big decision, not least financially, but I’m happy that it’s something I enjoy and will benefit me in my career. A career which, (unsurprisingly) has taken me back to South Sudan.

After nine months away I cannot say I like what they’ve done with the place since I was last here – an ongoing war coupled with severe food insecurity and multiple ethnic massacres – however I am honestly happy to be back. I am now working at one of the Protection of Civilians sites, which I can truly say must be one of the worst places in the entire world for the estimated 40,000 people living in it. Severe flooding coupled with a dearth of latrines and a lack of knowledge about disease and proper hygiene practices means that water and sanitation is the big issue here at the moment, and I could write a lot about it. However, I wanted to write about the one very small aspect of sanitation that I am involved in, and that is burials.

A woman with her baby moves through a flooded area of the Protection of Civilians site.

A woman with her baby moves through a flooded area of the Protection of Civilians site.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gratitude for Leah, My Faithful Companion for Four Exams

June 20, 2014

LSHTM logoIt’s 4.37pm the day after I sat my fourth of six exams.  I’ve been studiously at work most of the day on my Health Services and Health Policy in anticipation of their exams dawning in about a week’s time.

I’m feeling like I’ve worked pretty hard (not just today, but over the last few weeks…as all those first year Public Healthers doing the core modules will appreciate…exam blast Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Monday…phew…).  Instead of covering another Policy chapter, I think I’ll write a blog post…since it’s overdue by my timetable and, I believe, still a productive use of my time.  🙂

One of the things that has made the exams immeasurably more bearable (apart from the protein bars I had special dispensation to bring into exams, as my pregnant belly could now be likened to a bowling ball), was to have a fellow student to ‘post-mortem’ with.

This is the first time I’ve sat exams like this where there was a possibility that I’d turn up on my own and have no one else to talk to about the exam after it finished.  Lo and behold (and gosh, I wish I’d known earlier!), I turn up to Basic Epidemiology last Monday and discover there is a lovely other young woman, Leah from Seattle, sitting the same exam.

Read the rest of this entry »

Two continents, same exams

June 9, 2014

LSHTM logoFeeling rather elated this week as I have just finished my two hardest exams of the year, Basic Epidemiology and Basic Statistics for Public Health and Policy. I honestly have not properly got to grips with being able to adequately answer and exam question until pretty recently, as work has got in the way. Well, a combination of work and some rather lovely weekends taking in all that Jordan has to offer, a spectacular country. It is rather ironic though thinking that I have neglected my public health studies in part due to all the work I’ve been doing on an assessment related to health, for which I was proud to be able to finally do a chi squared test, thanks to this course!

I had originally intended to take all my exams in Amman, but then realized a friend’s wedding, in the UK, was the day before Epidemiology. The university was extremely kind about this and allowed me to change where I sat this exam very last minute, the upshot of which is that last Monday I sat my epidemiology exam in London, on Tuesday I flew to Amman, and on Wednesday, I sat my statistics exam at the British Council here.

Read the rest of this entry »


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