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Study abroad profile: Barana Iala

Barana Iala is a first-year undergraduate student who is interested in studying abroad on one of the programmes offered by the Global Opportunities team as part of his degree at Queen Mary. We caught up with Barana to find out his motivations for studying abroad and what he hopes to gain from the experience.


What are you studying at Queen Mary?

I’m studying Global Health in the School of Medicine and Dentistry and I’m in my first year.

What is the motivation behind you wanting to do a year abroad as part of your degree?

I have a background in nursing from my time in Guinea Bissau, West Africa where I’m originally from. I would see people suffering from outbreaks of diseases and I would often ask myself how people could become so ill. I was looking to study public health at Queen Mary because I am trained in preventive healthcare and I discovered that there was an option for a year abroad as part of this degree. I wanted to know how other countries organised their healthcare and why it is more developed.

What do you think the benefits would be of studying abroad during your degree?

I think studying abroad can give you a much broader knowledge of your subject area. Your culture, environment and the way you live can all affect your health, as well as the healthcare that you receive. This is why I’m interested in seeing how other people live, as well as how their culture and geography impacts upon patients. I have lived in the UK for over six years and in Africa more than 30 years. I have worked in the NHS and am familiar with how are done in the UK, so having the opportunity to visit new places such as America or Australia will give me a different perspective and a broader understanding of health on a global level. I’d like to work in the World Health Organisation or in a United Nations organisation after I graduate, so learning as much as possible about other cultures will only stand to benefit me in my career and the patients with whom I work.

Do you have any apprehensions about going abroad?

I have a daughter who is still under 10 years of age, so I was wondering how it would work with me going abroad to study while taking care of my family. I think with the right support in place then it will be fine. This is my passion and I am very curious about other cultures so I will make it work.

Do you have any plans to live or work abroad after your graduate?

I was amazed when a nurse from the UK went to Sierra Leone and caught Ebola during the Ebola outbreak, only to return as soon as she had recovered. I asked myself why anybody would want to take such a risk. We know that many British and international doctors and nurses go abroad to help those who are in need, and it shows the dedication and commitment that these people have in wanting to help during these times. I have worked in communities and seen first-hand how people are suffering through poverty and lack of vital healthcare, and equally how invaluable this kind of international assistance can be. In some places, just £1 or £2 can make a huge difference in their lives. This is the type of environment in which I am most interested in working – visiting countries and communities to help during outbreaks of diseases such as malaria or cholera, and ultimately helping to save people’s lives.

Find out more

If you are interested in studying abroad, as part of or in addition to your degree, visit the Global Opportunities website to find out which options are available to you and how to apply. You can also visit the Go Abroad Fair taking place on Wednesday 17 October 2018 in the Octagon, Queens’ Building, Mile End campus to speak with members of staff and students and have your questions answered.



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