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Helena from Ghana, Master's in Public Health

‘I have made friends from all corners of the globe, discovered countries I didn’t even know existed and tried a wide array of exotic foods. It is both exhilarating and humbling.’

Helena Owusu, from Ghana, is studying for a Master’s degree in Public Health (International Health) at the University of Nottingham – where she was awarded a Developing Solutions scholarship to help fund her studies.

Here, she shares her ambitions, favourite UK experiences, and advice for other students applying for scholarships to study at a UK university.

Why the UK?

'A UK education is a prestigious and world-class one, and makes you competitive anywhere in the world. The UK also has a great range of scholarships for international students.'

Why did you choose to study International Public Health?

'We are currently in an evidence-based world, and research is the key to unlocking such evidence. Unfortunately Africa, and particularly Ghana (where I am from), lacks high-quality researchers. I chose the MSc to provide me with the skills necessary to lead cutting-edge public health research in Ghana, and across Africa.

'I was also attracted to this programme due to its uniqueness in focusing on international health issues. I intend to focus on research in the hospital where I work as a pharmacist in Ghana, and also to teach in the university here.'

Top links to help you finance your studies

How do you think your UK degree will boost your career?

'A UK degree is held in high esteem all over the world. It will open many career doors and make it easier for me to pursue my teaching dream. The rich diversity of students also allows for cross-fertilisation of ideas, cultures and experiences.'

What was your best experience in the UK so far?

'Our class trip to the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds. This fascinating museum took us through the history of public health in England with a lifelike depiction of a Victorian-era street. We were both humbled and inspired by the advances in public health, from water closets to anaesthesia to antibiotics.'

Helena's class visits the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, Yorkshire

You successfully applied for a scholarship to study in the UK. What’s your advice for other students applying for a scholarship or funding programme?

'My advice would be to start early, get help and be original. Having someone read over your work will help eliminate typographical errors that will mitigate your chances of winning your award.'

Do you think living in a multicultural place has been beneficial to you?

'The diversity of students in the UK is absolutely amazing. I have made friends from all corners of the globe, discovered countries I didn’t even know existed and tried a wide array of exotic foods. It is both exhilarating and humbling.'

Helena with all of the university's Developing Solutions scholarship winners in her year

What is it really like to study abroad? Are there any cultural differences that made you laugh?

'Wow, where do I start? The culture shocks came thick and fast initially, although I am now somewhat adjusted!

'Coming from a developing country, I was first excited about having a constant electricity and water supply, free Wi-Fi on buses, and the fact that there are no houseflies or mosquitoes. I am still adjusting to calling lecturers by their first names, but I simply love the fact that people say "thank you" to the bus drivers.

'At university, the range of student support services is amazing – there is help for practically anything you can imagine. I also love the volunteering opportunities available for you to give back to society.

'I am still learning to distinguish between the different English accents, though, and I know now to add ten minutes to whatever time I am told it takes to walk somewhere!'

Read more:

   •   Healthcare and medicine: A guide to UK courses and careers
   •   Working alongside your studies: What you need to know
   •   My UK student visa application, by Lordina from Ghana

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