Five things that surprised me about coming to Rollins as an international student

By: Rikke Nedergaard – Global Health

When I first arrived at Rollins, I had never been to a US school before, so a great many things took me by surprise. Some of these things were specific to Rollins, but a few of them were not, so if you are a fellow international student coming to the US for the first time, I encourage you to read along.

Here are the five things that surprised me most when I first arrived here:

  1. The diversity of student body 
    On the first day of international student orientation, they made us stand up in the lecture theatre when our continent was called, and I realized then that I had never been in a population so diverse. The students at Rollins have come from all over the world and I now have new friends from four different continents – besides my own. In the classroom that has turned out to be a real asset, especially as a student of Global Health, as we always have diverse cultural perspectives on the things we discuss. It was also useful when I was preparing for an Applied Practical Experience (APE) in Addis Ababa and had an Ethiopian friend who could help me learn the language – or when I was working on a class project about Yemen and could ask my friend from that country about what things were like on the ground. 

  2. International working opportunities are easy to come by
    As a student on Global Health, I am excited about the opportunities to get involved with international research and projects. Before this whole pandemic took the world by surprise, I was applying to APEs in New York, Rwanda, Brazil, and the Maldives, before I accepted a position in Ethiopia. I found many opportunities through the Rollins network, including through recommendations from some very helpful professors. Although I cannot travel this year due to COVID-19, I’m involved with a research project on mental health in Ethiopia as well as one on gun violence in Atlanta – all from my apartment in Scotland. 

  3. The MPH is a professional degree 
    In addition to being an academic degree, the MPH is also very much a professional degree; it prepares you to hit the ground running as a public health professional. In our classes, the teaching is always clearly targeted towards real-life application and our coursework helps with this too: we study cases from the real world, write policy briefs, design project and research proposals in groups and often they have experts (e.g. from the CDC or the Carter Center) come in to listen to our work and give us feedback. 

  4. They’ve got the resources to help you do… whatever it is you want to do
    When I first came here, I knew Rollins would be able to help me learn in the academic sphere, but the help and support available Emory really goes beyond that. They have some fantastic career resources, resources to help get you international work experiences, lots of training available in skills, and abilities and they have special support for students who want to start projects. That is, whether you want to study Ethics at a Summer School in Italy, learn Korean, or set up a start-up, Emory can help you get there.

  5. Breath of classes available
    One of my favorite things about being a Rollins student is that you can study just about anything you’re interested in. Rollins itself has a fantastic range of classes within its six departments (my personal favorite class has been “Violence as a Public Health Issue”), but as a student you can take classes in any school at Emory, so next year I’m looking forward to “Perspectives on Mental Health”, which is a class in the Sociology department. I really cannot think of a public health topic that we don’t have classes on, so whatever you’re interested in, chances are excellent that you’ll be able to study it here!

In sum, being here has opened my eyes to a world of opportunities I never knew I had. The environment here is more diverse than I could have ever expected and the support for students is extraordinary.