By Varsha Hande, MSc Public Health
BRRRRINNNGGGGG: My alarm jolts me out of my sleep and my favourite dream; receiving the LSHTM master’s certificate on graduation day! I groggily walk to my sink to brush my teeth. As I brush, I think about the day ahead of me. It is Tuesday – one of my busiest days. However, I am excited to learn about Randomized Controlled Studies in Epidemiology and about the Tobacco industry in Issues of Pubic Health.
I then sip my green tea while revising yesterday’s class notes. It is a comfortable contrast to what I see outside my window – the still dark sky with the chilly breeze that often persists in the morning. I venture downstairs to the dining area of my residential hall and have a hearty breakfast to sustain my brain till lunch – I need it! During breakfast, I meet my friends, who are postgraduates from diverse backgrounds. We chat about everyday life – we laugh over similarities and marvel at differences in our schools and courses. I reach the School by a ten-minute walk during which I take in all the sights and scenes of central London on the brisk morning – the bustling crowd outside Russell Square station, the children in their coats and mufflers walking to school and the iconic red London buss shoot past us pedestrians.
I arrive at my classroom – seminar for Epidemiology. We are doing exercises based on last week’s lecture topic. Some questions are difficult, but I have many students from diverse backgrounds who offer their own perspective on the question. We later confirm our answers with the seminar leader, who is kind and very knowledgeable. I then head to the lecture theatre for today’s lecture – Randomized Controlled Trials, the keystone of modern epidemiology. The lecturer, as most, is very passionate about RCTs, which helps us learn better and stay motivated. He even picks up a phone call during class – much to the confusion (and slight disapproval) of some students. We then realise that it is a planned trick to help us understand how large studies randomize participants; through telephone and computer programs! This helps us not only understand the concept but also made sure we never forget it!
After the lecture, I run to the computer lab. I have an IT lesson today about Excel charts. On the way, I stop at the refectory for some coffee walnut cake – it is a must-try at the LSHTM canteen! I eat my lunch while the IT staff teach us about all the tricks and tips of Excel. It is definitely useful and I know that I will use these precious tips every time I open Excel in the future. I then do some exercises related to the taught course on the computer. Satisfied that I had grasped the tips, I walk back to the theatre for a lecture on the tobacco industry. We learn from a senior researcher who had done years of work in the related topic about how industry personnel manipulated the media and the public. Interesting is an understatement!
After that fascinating lecture, I stroll to the seminar with my friends. We are all excited about spending Christmas in London and make plans to see the lights on Oxford Street and go to the Christmas market in Southbank. In the seminar, we evaluate a real policy report. Even though I have no idea about this, the seminar leader and some other students who had previously worked in this field give their inputs. I leave with the confidence of being able to analyse a policy report in the future.
Right opposite the School is the Student Central gym, where I go after classes a few times a week to unwind and exercise. I then stroll back for some relaxation and food, feeling tired from the day but always enthusiastic about the interesting topics I will learn the next. A day at the LSHTM is never dull!