METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE     /     
Any questions?   This blog will be about my internship experience as a Global Nutrition and Health Student!

Thank you!

As my last blog post I would like to thank all of the people who were involved in my internship. GNH teachers and supervisors for giving me the opportunity to work with the project. My internship hosts who were supportive and engaged in the project, and providing me with incredible knowledge and ideas for my future career and education.  

Lastly, thank you guys for following my journey! 

— 3 months ago with 2 notes
#GNHinternship2014  #Ivana  #bosniaandherzegovina  #FNFBproject  #internshipdone  #thankyou! 
Survival Kit and Tips for Interns

Survival Kit for Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  1. Basic language skills
  2. Cultural sensitivity
  3. Patience
  4. Knowledge about the war-history and current political situation
  5. Bring a colleague

Tips for Interns in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  1. Take your time to talk to people about health topics and implications – you will be surprised of their response
  2. Show great amounts of empathy, specially towards the local “ordinary” people – most of them have a tough life
  3. Don’t try to understand everything about the complex political situation – the locals don’t even understand it perfectly
  4. Be curious, ask questions and do background research to get a holistic perspective on the health situation – things are always more complicated than they seem
— 3 months ago
#GNHinternship2014  #Ivana  #bosniaandherzegovina  #danish  #publichealthinstitute  #datacollection  #FNFBproject  #foodbasket 
Challenges

The greatest task throughout my internship was the cultural differences and perceptions. There is high prevalence of mistrust towards foreigners as well as their own government institutions which complicated my access to supermarkets for data collection. Each time I wanted to enter a supermarket I had to explain and almost persuade the store manager to let me do it and I often had to pretend I was local. This perception was also reflected in the tons of paperwork that had to be approved before letting me enter e.g. laboratories at the institute or follow a hygiene inspector out in the field. 

To overcome some of these tasks I really had to be open-minded, culturally sensitive and extremely patient and use my communication skills to the fullest.

Though I did not come across any specific challenges I could solve by myself the main challenges during my internship included:

-          Loose timing/poor time management

-          Challenging transportation and infrastructure

-          Working culture, mindset and hierarchy

The loose timing and challenging transportation was a major issue during my internship as my task was to go out in the field and collect data. When combining those two issues with the general public skepticism and unwillingness to cooperate, even the most straightforward tasks became somehow problematic. The hierarchy was something I got used to during my internship and could therefore adjust my way of approaching retail managers, drivers, inspectors, etc. 

— 3 months ago
#GNHinternship2014  #Ivana  #bosniaandherzegovina  #publichealthinstitute  #FNFBproject 
Working and Reflecting on Learning Objectives

The learning objectives served as start-points for my internship. These where my initial goals but during the internship I did several others tasks, which will be further explained.

Some reflections are:

Learning Objective I

Investigate food prices, food availability and food origin of approximately 150 food items to be used for the National Healthy Food Basket project.

My first learning objective seemed so straight forward but it turned out to be more complicated than I thought. A lot of paperwork needed to be done before I could even enter a store/shop to ask for permission to collect. Within the stores I was often met by very sceptic retail owners/managers, which turned out to be one of my major challenges along with transportation – further explanation will follow.  

Learning Objective II

Perform professional discussions, construct interview guides and practice interview and communication skills.

This is an essential part of my internship. I really get to apply all the classroom knowledge and improve and develop my personal communication and intercultural skills. I interview and discuss with people from different social layers and with different professional backgrounds and I therefore need to adjust questions and usage of professional terminology. Another reflection I had on this objective was language and possible language barriers. All communication and interaction is in the native language and though it is my mother tongue I have never used it in a professional context.

Learning Objective III

Participate in the pilot testing of Nutritious Friendly kindergartens in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The pilot testing was postponed due to inconsistency between the involved partners and I could therefore not participate in the pilot testing. I did a lot of reading about the project and talked with my internship supervisor about the implementation process, material process and how they would evaluate.

Learning Objective IV

Construct a paper about current food security situation in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen academic writing and gain in-depth knowledge about the topic.

This objective was a bonus task I sat for myself as the National Healthy Food Basket project was a good way to gather information. Throughout the internship I have gained great knowledge about the complexity of food safety and how the political system influence national health. I gather information from published papers and through discussions and interviews.

— 4 months ago with 5 notes
#GNHinternship2014  #Ivana  #Danish  #DataCollection  #LearningObjectives  #reflections  #bosniaandherzegovina 

From my field visit to the city Novi Grad. At the small village the inspector did water sampling from a primitive fountain and a hospital.

— 4 months ago with 6 notes
#GNHinternship2014  #internship2014  #NoviGrad  #bosniaandherzegovina  #Ivana  #Danish  #DataCollection 
A Typical Day - part II

A Typical Day Part II

In short, a typical day at Republic of Srpska Institute for Public Health starts at 7:20am, where I announce my arrival at the administrative office at the epidemiological department. Here they confirm my field trip with one of the sanitary inspectors and at 7:30am I am on the road. On the trip the inspectors leave me at a market to do my data collection and questioning. We then meet again and on the way back to Banja Luka I usually follow the inspector to get an insight on how and what they do. During the day we usually meet with local health professionals/inspectors from the city, who escort us to the smaller villages where the inspector needs to collect samples. Due to a lot of travel time I get to talk with the inspectors about their work, which challenges they face and their opinion/aspect on health related topics. Depending on the time spend and distance to the visited cities I arrive at the institute in Banja Luka around 4pm. 

— 4 months ago with 3 notes
#GNHinternship2014  #internship2014  #bosniaandherzegovina  #Ivana  #Danish  #DataCollection 
Week 5

Last week was my first week in Banja Luka, the main city of the Republic of Srpska entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am now attached to a new institute, Republic of Srpska Public Health Institute and new people. The institute in Banja Luka is slightly differently organized than the institute in Sarajevo I therefore needed to adapt to a new way of working.  

During the week I spend my time on:

  • Finishing approval documents for this entity
  • Familiarize myself with the institute and meet the people I will work with
  • Make a travel-plan
  • Follow a sanitary inspector doing food and water inspection in the field
  • Do data collection for NHFB in Novi Grad and Banja Luka

Throughout this month I will travel to a number of urban and semi-rural areas with sanitary inspectors and do data collection for the NHFB. By doing this I save a lot of time on travel-planning and get the opportunity to meet different health professionals from different regions and cities in the entity. 

— 4 months ago with 3 notes
#GNHinternship2014  #internship2014  #bosnianandherzegovina  #publichealthinstitute  #BanjaLuka  #Ivana  #Danish  #DataCollection 
Last weeks greatest thought

Last week in Sarajevo I had the opportunity to spend a whole day in the different laboratories at the Public Health Institute. Here they enhance and ensure food safety by testing and controlling water, food, dietary supplements and packaging which are in contact with food/water. I spend the day observing how they test the food and which methods they use – so much technical info about different types of methods! What I really gained from this day, was good conversation with the head of different departments. I experienced that the areas of food safety are aligned with European standards and they follow EU-recommendations but my main interest was:

How do you deal with food and nutritional security?

I realized that this issue is still not being fully dealt with and that my internship host and her colleague are the only two people at the whole institute who (to some extend) are attending the nutritional value and availability.

Though I assumed the low interest within this area I was still surprised to hear how neglected this important aspect of health is. This information started a whole cascade of thoughts on how a nation can improve health, when there is so low political will and almost non-existing governmental support…..

— 4 months ago with 8 notes
#GNHinternship2014  #internship2014  #Sarajevo  #bosniaandherzegovina  #PublicHealthInstitute Sarajevo  #mythoughts 
Week 4

My 4th week was my last week at the Public Health Institute in Sarajevo. During the week I finished what I could in this part of the country and from Monday (week 5) I will be working at the Public Health Institute for Republic Srpska in Banja Luka, which is the main city in that entity.

During the week I visited several markets, fishmongers and butchers as I experienced, that most of the locals don’t grocery shop exclusively in large supermarkets but go to different places to buy their groceries. While visiting the food markets (where they mainly sell fruits and vegetables) the sellers made it clear that they don’t sell as much in the winter. The diversity and quantity is limited and most of the products are imported which results in higher prices. Through the sellers’ experience most of the locals prefer to buy groceries in supermarkets during the winter but turn to the markets in the summer season.

While being in the field and taking my time to talk and listen to the locals I gained insights on problems they are facing and which suggestions they had for improvement.

People are truly experts on their own lives.

— 4 months ago with 7 notes
#GNHinternship2014  #internship2014  #PublicHealthInstitute Sarajevo  #bosniaandherzegovina