Elyse, Yale University

Public Health in Colombia, 2019

Elyse was the 2019 Public Health in Colombia scholarship recipient. She will graduate from her History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health degree at Yale in 2021. Here she answers some questions about her time in Colombia.

  • Tell us why you applied for the 2019 scholarship place, and how it will contribute to your future academic plans.

PHOTO-2019-06-20-23-34-23I always knew that I wanted to go into medicine and in the last year or two I have realised that I want to be more aware of public health issues, because they underpin the whole medicine theme. The scholarship has allowed me the experience in which I can learn more about these topics and put that knowledge towards becoming a successful clinician. The scholarship allowed me to have an experience that I wouldn’t have otherwise had and had the added benefit of allowing me to travel to a country that I had never been to before, one that has very different PH policy and practise from my own. Understanding other systems can help you to understand your own one better which is why the experience of studyibg in Colombia was so important to me. The scholarship helped to cement my plan to go further with my studies in PH and has given me some practical insights that will allow me to compare and contrast different systems worldwide.

  • What did the program teach you about Public Health in Colombia?

The topic that was completely new to me was the theme of the conflict in Colombia, and the way that it continues to underpin policy and practise in the country, impacting the sphere of public health. It was interesting to learn about the country through that particular lense. I would like to know the more explicit connection between the specific conflict-related issues and the impact that they had on public health, and this is something that I would like to find out more about in future. Colombia is a really interesting case study for public health because it’s situation is unique, and the background of long-term conflict is not necessarily something that you often come across in Public Health studies. The course and the content was very different from studying public health in the USA where there is a different context in terms of the political and economic state of country.

  • Tell us about one of the site visits you took part in during the course

One of my favourite excursions was to Profamilia, an organisation which is broadly similar to planned parenthood in the USA. We spent the visit talking about those issues and reproductive rights in Colombia, for example the rights of those with disabilities was really interesting. Prior to the start of the course I hadn’t thought that we would necessarily be exploring these topics and it appealed to me because I have found that they often overlooked, even within the USA sometimes. So seeing this particular organisation and to hear about their work was a really interesting opportunity.

  • What surprised you most about Bogota?

DSCF1797.jpgI’d say that my main surprise in Bogota was the weather! We were told in advance that it wasn’t warm but even though I’d read it I had an image of a sunny Colombia! Instead it was quite rainy and cold, and it was interesting to me that my expectations were different from the reality. I also hadn’t heard about the country’s awesome graffiti, and its political themes, and it was great to see that – as soon as I arrived via the route from the airport, and during the political gratfitti tours that were part of the course. The country lives up to it’s reputation for friendly people and I do want to go back to Colombia, which I have been thinking about it since the end of the course. There is so much to see in the country and I’d like to go back and explore more of it.

  • What advice would you give to someone enrolling on next year’s course?

I’d say be open minded to try new things. Doing so allowed me to have a lot of fun in the program, meeting new people, learning as well as having a good time. Take every opportunity to explore this amazing country during your evenings and free time, try new food and experiences! Be excited to explore and learn!