Starting my first term remotely during COVID-19

We caught up with Zhiyang Wang, MSc Epidemiology student, who tells us about his experience starting the programme remotely and reflects on his first term. 
Zhiyang Wang, MSc Epidemiology student from China

To begin, tell us a little about yourself

I’m an MSc Epidemiology student at LSHTM and I’m currently studying remotely from Shanghai, China. Before starting my master’s, I got my bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati in the USA.

Why did you choose LSHTM?

It’s wasn’t a hard choice to choose LSHTM, it’s always featuring as a high rank in the league tables. I was also working in an Epidemiological research group in Cincinnati and they recommended LSHTM as it’s very well known for public health, not only in the UK but the world.

How was your experience starting as a new online student with LSHTM?

It wasn’t the usual experience starting online, and it took time to adjust, but we received a good introduction into how to do well with the online platform. After the first week everything worked out great, it’s important to stick to a good schedule and join all the sessions to make the most of everything. The time zone difference was not a big concern for me, but my secret weapon for this is coffee! There’s also plenty of study materials to get on with in your own time around lectures and workshops.

Do you have any top tips for studying remotely?

As you can’t speak face to face with your tutors and classmates, when you meet any issues you should contact the right person as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to write an email and ask for help with your problems.

Another tip is to make sure to read every email to find out lots of different information and opportunities like workshops, conference, lectures and research talks. There’ll be lots of groups and discussions for you to choose from, last term I went to a talk which was about COVID that was very interesting.

Reflecting on your first term, what have you enjoyed the most?

We have a class called Epidemiology in Practice, which is not a normal teacher to student class. The course organisers will invite a panel of different experts in their area. One particularly interesting section is about the media where we had talks from various journalists. Before I started at LSHTM I’d never had any experience of working with the media, only in my research teams. They would tell us what we can do to communicate with the public, and how to give our expert opinion of the subject, especially during outbreaks like COVID-19. This was a new area to me, and I found it very interesting and fascinating.

We have weekly Pentacell meetings where we meet with other students in small groups to discuss all sorts of topics. It might not always be academic discussions, but it’s a great way to learn about your other classmates, keep in contact and get support. While we may not be in London together, we are still connected and networked with each other.

What made you want to study epidemiology?

The whole concept of epidemiology is very interesting to me as both epidemiology and public health look at the population levels. In traditional medicine they always focus on the individual, for example when working as a GP, but epidemiologists and public health experts look at the broader perspective. 

What are your plans after graduation?

I still want to remain in academia, so I’m currently writing my application for various PhD programmes. There have been some very useful workshops about how to apply for a PhD and career advice and I recommend other students to attend them if they can.