Getting started with master’s thesis in Nairobi

My name is Elisa Särkilahti and I am studying human nutrition at the department of Food and Nutrition, University of Helsinki. I’m writing my master’s thesis as a part of the KENFIN-EDURA project and my topic is “The association between sociodemographic factors and diet in Nairobian adolescents”. I had a chance to visit Nairobi in October 2019. During these five days we got to know Kenyatta University, Nairobi and the KENFIN-EDURA study group. We also met local students working on the same project.

This was my first time in Kenya. During the stay we explored Kenyan culture and tasted many traditional Kenyan dishes. By tasting and seeing all the foods it’s easier to understand FFQ used in the study. We had many nice conversations with local students about their way of life. We were talking about differences between studies, food culture and education in Kenya and Finland.

We spent one day going to see the study areas Kayole and Langata. The visit really helped me to understand the differences between these areas and everyday life of people living in Nairobi. In Kayole we also had a chance to visit one home and talk with a child taking part in this study and her mother. It was eyes opening to hear how satisfied they were about their ordinary life even though for us their living conditions seemed quite low. We visited the field with the students who had done part of the interviews and it was useful to hear about their experience about the interview situations.

We stayed at Kenyatta university area where we also had meetings with the study group. We were discussing for example about the wealth index and high frequencies on FFQ data. It was useful to get Kenyan view, because they had better understanding of living conditions in Kenya and usage of local foods.

On our last day we participated in a Postgraduate student seminar. In the event we presented our research proposals and received feedback and questions from KENFIN-EDURA staff and other students. It was interesting to hear other students’ research plans and topics. After the seminar we discussed with students and got their e-mails for future questions.

Elisa Särkilahti