Friday, 21 November 2014

Post-Exams thoughts and Reflections

I was done with my exams last week, on the 11th. I heaved a sigh of relief after my last paper despite performing less than average. 

Being able to study in Monash is really a blessing. Never did I knew and thought that I would make it. With HELP University being the pioneer for Psychology among private universities in Malaysia, I actually had some regrets for entering Monash. Firstly, the expensive fees, Secondly, the uncertainty of getting my Psychology major preferred by employers or graduate programs alike and Thirdly, worry of lack of peers with similar interests. 

Whilst I will miss the opportunity to experience undergraduate studies in HELP, but what I gained is another experience. Just as a chinese adage says: "If the old don't go, how would the new come?" 旧的不去, 新的不来.

So, exams over. I browsed through the course map that I have lay out. Research Design and Analysis (RDA) and Developmental and Biological Psychology are my next Psychology core subjects. Reviewing my recent performance in PSY1022 Psychology 1B, I did terrible for my statistics / research methods. How can I be prepared for RDA? Oh my!

Fingers-crossed, I will pass my PSY1022. With 48 questions out of 96 being statistics / research methods related questions, I fear I might not make it. But I really pray I will. Statistical procedures are indeed inextricably linked to the field of psychology. I rejected everything related to mathematics during my SAM year, which translated to my repeated failures in examinations and phobia. During this semester's exam, I avoided the two chapters intentionally even though I knew they held the heaviest weightage among all. When fear overwhelms you, it becomes sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As I did excellent in my internal assessments, I hoped for an excellent grade as well, but since I did not get ready for the statistics part, my goal thus will not be met. :(

Anyways, what can I do about it now? Nothing. So, it's time to move forward, don't cry over spilled milk and enjoy the holidays.


Reflection of 2014 - Student experience

This year has had its ups and downs. Time flies by even faster than before. Recalling the times in secondary/high school, I had to drag myself through the day!! I can't wait for the classes to be dismissed. 

In Monash, I was indeed happier as compared to in TCSJ. Mainly, it's more suitable for me. I love the freedom of allocating my own lecture and tutorials schedules. I love the Sunway campus, people are more open and I got to meet people from all walks of life. 

Many factors contributed to my happiness and satisfaction in Monash this year. I will list and elaborate on them below.


1) Accepting lecturers, staff and peers

I can't be more blessed with supporting lecturers and accepting peers. However, one sad fact about university life is that students don't really meet up so often as we are mostly enrolled in different subjects and tutorial times. I cannot speak for other faculties, but for Arts, it is definitely so. Nevertheless, I can't speak of my joy when I encounter people who are open to differences in culture and willing to share their experiences with me. In my first semester, I was active in participating in workshops organised by various departments in Monash, yoga was stress relieving too! Some of the activities I was involved in were Christian Fellowship, Yoga, Self-Development Training, SPIN (a psychology students network). 



Lecturers are also an interesting bunch of people. I enjoyed reading through their staff profiles whenever possible, get to know more about their books and research interests and be enriched with wisdom whenever they are willing to impart their knowledge and experiences. One special experience I had was being invited to go have a dinner with my Journalism lecturer to a bar & bistro Brussels Beer Cafe in Sunway Pyramid. I was fortunate to be able to discuss with my lecturers some other stuff unrelated to academics. Well, choose wisely who you can speak of these things with. Some may not be as open to other type of conversations.

I was also fortunate to meet friends from different countries, such as Korea, Mauritius, China, Japan, Dubai, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Singapore.

2) Facilities and Support

It is an eye-opener when I start to figure out what's what, who does what and where are my source of support, resources and where can I get help when in need. First-year information (FYI) is provided when I went for Monash's orientation week. In there, they list all sorts of things that first-year students ought to know. Right from the start, it is important to note all of these information above all. 

You should ask yourself questions such as:
1) Where is the building that manages my course?
2) Where are the cafeteria, other places of recreation, bookstore, library, toilets, ATMs, admissions office?
3) Who should I go to during a crisis or emergency?
4) How do I activate my student ID?
5) When is the last day to pay fees?
6) What is expected of me for every subject in the semester?

I made sure all of my questions and queries were answered as soon as possible through resources provided such as unit guides and the university's website. 

3) Learning to take Responsibilities

From the first week, I realised that no one is going to make you do your work, study and submit assignments. Students were free to do whatever they wish. Lectures were not compulsory although recommended. Coincidentally, my parents gave me more freedom to decide what I want to do during my university years. They did not interfere in my units selection or choice of extra-curricular activities as well. Growing up in a rather traditional chinese family, this change was rather surprising and I was clearly unprepared for it. Very soon, I adapted to this situation and took responsibility for things I do, choices I make. 

With more freedom, I got involved with activities I like, such as going for workshops, talks and forums whenever my schedule allows. In the second semester, I joined random researchers' experiments when they post their notice on noticeboards. Some examples include a Creativity experiment and a Psychology-Economic experiment.

Sometimes, I overestimate my capacity to put in activities into my schedule yet at the same time excel in my studies. As a result, there were many episodes where I had to rush through assignments in order to submit on time. My worst records include beginning research and writing 12 hours before the assignment due date, one and two days before due dates and also dropping the hardcopy assignment at midnight!! Imagine the adrenaline and stress that accompanied those moments.

I also thoroughly enjoyed my Research Assistant experience. I have learned so much and truly treasure the friends I made through this 'job'. I found a few people who have the same passion and love Psychology. 

Monash University Volunteer Program  was another program that benefited me during my first semester. Being the focal point (leader) of the group visiting Bangsa Ria (a day-care centre for the physically and mentally disabled), I planned how our transport is going to be every week as we devote 2 hours per week for our visits over 10 consecutive weeks. Because of this experience volunteering, I learned to appreciate how fortunate I am to be healthy, given education since age 4 and able to enter university to continue tertiary education. Thankfully, because I was committed to this weekly volunteering, I was able to bring myself up every Thursday even when I was overwhelmed with assignments in the week. Volunteering in Bangsa Ria has strengthen my perseverance and confirmed my ability to bounce back up from adversity. 

Experiences with various subjects for Year 1 (2014)

Introduction to Psychology

I have no problem understanding Psychology. I thought: "I think analytically ALL the time, I am in tune with my thoughts, feelings and behaviour and thus will be the first to notice when stress overwhelms me etc., I love people, their conversations and interactions, I like to find ways to make life better, a.k.a. Self Development." So... Psychology should be my major shouldn't it?

I guess I took advantage of my quick absorption of psychological concepts, hence I did not spend a lot of time doing revision and studying for it. Surprisingly I got a Distinction for my first semester. However, second semester, I doubt the same will happen. 

Anyway, I enjoyed the topics we learned, such as Personality, Learning, Sensation and Perception, Developmental Psychology and the dreaded Biological Psychology. Second semester, it was even more interesting. We got into Social Psychology, where we get to learn about extremely unethical psychological experiments, i.e. Stanford Prison Experiment, Asch's Conformity experiment and Stanley Milgram's obedience to authority experiment; Abnormal Psychology which is essentially psychopathology with biological and psychological treatments - nothing special; Cognitive Psychology about how we think and make decisions et cetera and lastly my dreaded research methods and statistics related stuff. 

Half way through my second semester, I doubted if it was the 'right' choice to major in Psychology. I wonder if it was my interest in psychopathology that may be the only reason I decided to major in it. It's not like I do not have another choice. Arts is really free in Monash. It's so flexible that sometimes I get so frustrated by the vast choices of subjects which makes my enrollment difficult. Yet, I do not have other interest besides Psychology... Marketing?? maybe but that can be done in MBA if I am interested in it in the future. A single major in Psychology seemed like the best option for me currently. 

For those interested about the famous unethical experiments, here's an article you may like to read: 
Media and Communications

At first I was taken aback by the number of readings we had to read weekly. Gosh, so many pages and so difficult to digest as they are written by professors and experts of a particular subject, they can be doing their thesis when they wrote those articles. I prayed for mercy be upon me when I started Media Studies during my first semester.

Arts = scary long readings that you'll barely grasp not to mention understand.

As usual, I don't really pay attention in lectures, due to my need to do something else during lectures and tutorials. I have terribly short attention span during lectures and tutorials, not that the lecturer or tutor was not interesting, but I just had to do something, like reading the long-due readings, or surfing the net reading articles, or doing assignments. 

But, I compensated that habit by reading on my own when not in class. God knows why I can't focus. 

Whilst the readings in the first semester were difficult, I successfully made it through. In the second semester, I researched and wrote my best for the major essay, studied 8 hours straight before my final exams and I fell in LOVE with communications and its beauty.

Though sometimes theories in communications may not apply to certain cultures or be at all that accurate or reflect reality, it is indeed an interesting subjects which touch on every aspect of our lives. Because of this unit that I took in second semester, I decided to take a SECOND major in Communications.

Journalism

I always thought if I had a flair for writing, I would do well in Journalism. I was proven wrong as I delve deeper into the Introductory subjects of the field. Journalism may require writing, but it is certainly much more than writing. It requires skills in:

1) Identifying what is news and what is not? 
2) How to identify which information is important to put at the top of the news story (Inverted pyramid style)?
3) How to follow the journalistic style of your company (in my case, Monash University)
4) How to ensure you meet the strict deadlines when you have other assignments due in the same week? 
5) Where to you get your sources?
6) Always remember to get their contact details!!!

Despite the terrible experience and a lot of stress doing the two subjects in Journalism, I do have some good points to say about this subject. No doubt, it is a very practical subject. I learned to use many soft wares / programming during my course of study, e.g. Adobe Premiere Pro, Audacity, HTML, SEO - Search Engine Optimisation and how to create a webpage. Every student will also acquire basic interviewing and reporting skills when they complete the sequence.

Though I admire the spirit of passionate journalists who are willing to risk their lives to chase after and publish their stories, after finishing the sequence subjects, No, journalism is definitely not my cup of latte. 


Marketing 

One phrase - Extremely fascinating! Due to my interest in various types of products in the market and am willing to learn more about it, I find this unit really fun. After doing an assignment on cat food, I researched on so many different brands that I learned lots about cat nutrition, what type of cat food should a kitten eat while what type should an adult eat. I visited retailers such as Petsmore.com, Tesco and also the brands' official websites. Now, I can tell you what are the cheaper cat food brands and what are the more nutritious ones (more expensive) as well. 

Expensive, but with high-quality ingredients (High nutrition)
- Orijen (From USA/Canada)
- Nutram
- Nutrience

Cheaper brands
- Friskies
- Vitacat
- Whiskas
- Purina
- Prodiet

Management

I decided to take up Intro to management as I wanted to do Human Resource Management as one of my second year subject. Overall, quite an informative subject = lots to read / memorise. There are many theories behind proper management of a company, in order to boost performance, increase customers, sales and revenue etc. 

So, that's all. Currently creating plans for my Summer break and getting myself ready to welcome Year 2015!