An Interesting Experience during COVID-19
From January-March 2022, Farhan Yusuf participated in a student exchange programme organised through a partnership between Muhimbili University of Health & Allied Sciences (Tanzania) and the University of Bergen (Norway).
Student Exchange Programmes have a lot of benefits, both for the students participating in them and for the educational institutions involved. The exchange of ideas, concepts and experiences enriches all parties involved and leads to the creation of relationships and pathways for further collaborations and partnerships. From January-March 2022, I was given an amazing opportunity to participate in such a programme organised by Muhimbili University of Health & Allied Sciences in Tanzania and the University of Bergen, Norway.
What made the experience even more interesting was that it took place during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic and as such it involved the processes of COVID-19 testing, quarantine, isolation (for some of the students) and the consequence of some of the courses being taught either entirely virtually or using a hybrid modality. All this coupled with the winter of Bergen, Norway, made the experience quite a ride for the involved students. However, despite these challenges, the overall journey was fruitful for all involved.
Personally, what I took back the most from this exchange experience was the variety of teaching methodologies employed during these courses. I selected Experimental and Observational Epidemiology as the courses to be taken in order to strengthen my skills as a researcher and use this understanding for the greater benefit of the health sector in Tanzania. The various teaching methodologies including recorded sessions, quizzes and discussion questions, group exercises and activities allowed for a holistic experience of learning and a focus on understanding of concepts rather than just memorizing formulae (of which there are plenty in the field of epidemiology). This understanding was further enhanced by the opportunity to have academic dialogue and discourse with the experienced facilitators from the university.
Other key highlights for me included the interactions with other students – those pursuing Master's programmes at the University of Bergen, PhD students and exchange students from other universities. This allowed for an experience of peer learning and sharing along with networking that I am sure will go a long way in my growth as a professional in the health sector. The ability to critique scientific papers is a skill that I will definitely use in my career as a researcher. I also received an opportunity to present a webinar on a challenging topic through the Center for Intervention Science in Maternal and Child Health (CISMAC) and received a lot of guidance and support for the development and delivery of that presentation.
Overall, this was an amazing opportunity to experience the vibrant culture of Bergen as a city, interact with students and professionals from different institutions and to hone my skills as a researcher. I look forward to sharing this experience with my peers and other students, and I look forward to supporting this initiative by guiding prospective students as well. I would like to thank Muhimbili University of Allied Sciences, Department of Development Studies and University of Bergen, the Centre for International Health (CIH) and Health Economics, Leadership, and Transformational Ethics Research (HELTER) group for this opportunity.