Spring Time in Edinburgh…

…by Kayla / from the United States / Master of Public Health 2017-2018

Hello Readers!

Since the time change (spring forward) Edinburgh has seen many glorious long sunny days with in the past few weeks! The sun is setting nowadays at around 9pm and it expected to set even later as summer approaches. Shooketh? Yes I am too.

The city has been filled with students having barbecues in the Meadows and children playing under the fresh spring Cherry Blossom trees. This cover photo was taken at Cramond Island, one of the many tidal islands in the Firth of Forth, only about 35 min bus ride from main campus. It is a must visit destination if you are ever living in Edinburgh!

Do not be fooled by the overwhelming freedom and joy captured in this photo with that hint of yellow happiness spotted on the rocks and the clear blue sky symbolizing no worries. If you look real closely, you would probably see the quizzical face of post-grad student realizing that she only has four more months of this MPH degree and no idea where the next guided pathway will be.

April has been a whirlwind of:

completing ethics forms for my dissertation

spending countless hours at the library working on final assessments

a little bit of homesickness

taking time out for mini UK adventures

and many more joyful memories that I am learning to be more thankful for

Recently one of my RYLA mentors messaged me asking what I have learned most about myself since I have been here. The question dawned on me and sent me straight into an instant moment of reflection, but I immediately knew the answer. I have learned that I have so much more to learn, and I am completely okay with that. I will carry this realization with going forward these next few months.

As I mentioned in the last blog I have started planning my dissertation. My topic is understanding classroom pedagogy of teachers and their interaction with low-income pupils as a minority group: a qualitative study. My goal is to interview secondary school teachers who work at a predominantly affluent school to see their perspective of teaching the small group of students that come from families with low socioeconomic status (SES) groups. I want to know primarily if this impacts the mental social and emotional well-being (MSEWB) of this unique targeted population from the teacher’s perspective. Studies have shown that when students from low SES backgrounds attend affluent schools they often face challenges that effect their MSEWB, which in turn can put them at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts. Currently, I am waiting on the ethics committee to approve my proposed plans. This topic has the potential to contribute to the public health field by analyzing determinants of mental health in this particular context and finding ways to improve well-being and learning environments for diverse groups.

I am looking forward to working on this dissertation as it connects my passions for both public health and education. For those of you that know me well, you know that I personally have been a part of this unique targeted population group of students after moving from New Orleans to the suburbs of North Texas. Is it ironic that I now get to do a Masters level dissertation on this topic at one of the top universities in the world? I think not (#guidedpathways). But really, I look forward to gathering data, conducting interviews, and seeing what comes from this experience.

Just to go on a short/necessary tangent: I am grateful for teachers and professors that I have had throughout my academic career that have truly impacted my life in more ways than they know. They have allowed me realize that teaching is one of the most rewarding and timeless professions worldwide. Educators of the world, you are appreciated.

Okay back to writing a helpful and informative blog…

Music mood (another tangent) : In case anyone was curious these are the top 5 songs I have been jamming to as I write these final papers (thanks to friends recommendations)

NonStop – Hamilton Soundtrack

Into the Deep – Citipointe

On My Mind – Tom Misch

It is Well -David Dunn (Portrait Remix)

I was Here- Beyoncé

Okay really now, this is more about my life in Edinburgh….

As a part of my RA (Resident Assistant) job I have been leading a running program with my colleagues at Holyrood called Spring into Fitness. It is designed to help struggling post-grad students (like myself)  set aside at least 30 minutes twice a week  to get outside to engage in physical exercise and simply get fresh air. Leading this program has held me accountable for my personal self-care as well. Living and working in a student accommodation at the University of Edinburgh has been a rewarding experience.

A few weeks ago I was invited by my fellow Rotary Global Scholar, and good friend, Anna to speak at the Rotary Club of Coatbridge, Airdrie and Monklands. These are three small towns in between Glasgow and Edinburgh. We presented a background about ourselves, the Global Grant Scholarship, and the US healthcare system versus the UK National Health Service (NHS) systems. As always we had a great time with the Rotarians, they even introduced to a wider variety of Scottish accents in this part of the country.

Last week, I also went with Anna to Manchester simply because it was on our Year Abroad Bucket List and also we found affordable train tickets with our 16-25 railcard discount. It was a much needed study break. I am cherishing the reality that I can go to a multitude of major cities in the UK and Europe so easily (especially as a student), before this experience is over.

Manchester is one of my favorite cities I have visited in the UK so far. The diversity, food variety, music culture, massive buildings, and friendly people truly make it a city united. I never really understood the hype of football (aka soccer just to clarify for my US peeps) in the UK until visiting Manchester. These people are serious fans. Anna and I had to find that out the hard way when it was revealed through a conversation we were having with a local that we didn’t know that there was a difference between Manchester United and Manchester City. Our ignorance could have caused major disputes and commotion if we mentioned this to the wrong person, thankfully the man we were talking to was kind and patient with us. To be fair, after visiting the National Football Museum and Old Trafford, Manchester United’s Stadium, our outlook on this world changing sport was greatly impacted. Another highlight of Manchester was listening to live jazz and eating in China Town. There I experienced my first authentic dim sum lunch and sesame balls with sweet sticky rice with sesame paste inside for dessert.  My life was changed, I 10/10 recommend.

I was thankful to have the opportunity to take a mental break during these trips. God has been so faithful by providing strength through the heavy end-of- semester workload and a bit of homesickness that I was experiencing this month. I have been feeling more at peace and plus I will be having a lot of visitors coming over to explore Europe very soon! I look forward to showing my family and friends my world on this side of the pond. Stay tune for the next blog. Hint: anticipate a travel documentary coming soon.

Have a fabulous month of May and congrats to all the 2018 graduates (special shout out to my little brother TJ who graduates this year) !


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