Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week 1: Thoughts and Worries

So I have officially finished my 1st week of graduate school. YAHOOOOOOOO!!

It is crazy how time flies! With that being said it has also been a tough week. A week that was both overwhelming and engaging; both scary and exhilarating. We have had a jammed packed week full of extra long courses and lots of information. I have been holding off talking about school because I wanted to get a good sense of what is to come - So here are my thoughts!

My program is held with in the Institute for International Health and Development, with in QMU. They offer a number of globally minded postgraduate certificates, Masters, and PhD's. While I am on a specific track to a MSc Sexual and Reproductive Health, many of my courses overlap with other IIHD students. Right now there are only 5 of us in my specific major. Some majors have as little as 2 students in their course. Since many of our courses overlap I would say I am in class with about 15 of the same students who are estimated to graduate with me. Our backgrounds are very diverse, with people coming from Nigeria, Norway, St. Lucia, Armenia, Macedonia and the UK. I would say about 98% of my program is international. In terms of our work experience, again they differ, from doctors (there are a like 5!) to nurses to social scientist. I want to say I am the youngest at 22 - many people have been working in the health field for a number of years and many even have families!

My program, Msc Sexual and Reproductive Health, consist of 3 total semesters in which I take 4 modules for the 1st two semesters and then I work on my dissertation during the last semester. Ohhh but what are modules? To be honest I am not exactly sure. To me it just means courses, classes, ext. The only difference between courses (US) and modules is that modules are shorter. For instance most of my modules only run for 5/6 weeks. So courses are short and jammed packed with lectures, seminars and loads of readings. Classes are 3 hours long and run 3-4 times a week. Currently I am taking Health Systems and Global Health & Social Policy. Around the end of October, I  will take Researching Global Health & Development and then one elective.

In terms of the grading systems and assignments, again things are so different. Grading runs from A-H, rather than A-F like in the States. Below is the breakdown:

  • Excellent Performance: 80% or higher - A
  • Very Good Performance: 70-79% - B
  • Satisfactory Performance: 60-69% - C
  • Good Performance - 50-59% - D
  • Unsatisfactory Performance - 40-49% -E
  • Poor Fail - 30-39% - F
  • Bad Fail - 20-29 -G
  • No Grade/No Assignment - 0% - H

According to the students that just graduated, we should expect to get a D or maybe a C on our 1st assignments. They said usually American students get the most upset because we are not used to getting these types of grades. To be honest, I am quite shocked by their grading system. It seems very very hard to achieve an A. I am more concerned with what my transcript/GPA will reflect because if I apply to say an US school my grades are going to look terrible, while in reality they are quite good. What I need to do is ask whether this grading system is only University specific or country specific. UGH!

On top of that, we only have 1-2 assignments per module - so not many opportunities to bring up your grade. There is usually a group project which for me is HELL! I HATE group projects with a passion. Group projects come with issues that are just avoided if we just do our own projects. But as they mentioned when we get out into the real world we will have to "play nice with others", so this is good practice.

My Concerns: 
God there are SO many! Like I mentioned before my class is diverse, with people coming from a myriad of countries and jobs. To be honest it is just intimidating. I am just a 22 year old with a degree in Sociology sitting in a classroom of leaders and game changers. They are doctors, nurses, social scientist and HR people all here to learn and go back and effect change within their governments. They come with experiences that I can not even dream of! I feel like I have a mission but this is my way to finding out how to effect change, while they have this definitive direction. It is overwhelming. Sometimes in class I am just sitting there like "what can I contribute?! Do I even have anything to contribute?". is all so overwhelming.

In the end though, it has been a great week! While I am nervous and scared and just plan unnerved, I am very excited to study here. My classes are interesting and challenging and everyone brings such a richness to my class that I think it will be ok. At least I hope it will be OK....

Oh well! Enough complaining - this is makes me SMILE...


Ps. Want to know something funny? Since I am in the UK and that is what my computer recognises, my spell check has changed to reflect the spelling over here. Surprisingly frustrating since I am an awful speller in the 1st place


TheGoldenGoddess said...


This post is so honest, intense, informative and, at the end, hilarious (where that computer change is concerned)! Needless to say, I enjoyed it all. Then again, I love long blog entries. Imbibe all the personalities coming in from around the world! I am so proud of you and elated that you are in the mix! Your Soul wanted to have this experience, and you are having it! Squeeze every ounce of joy from it.


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