Ali, Ah Chong and Arumugam: "Wah, Psychology, can read mind".
Hmmmm, that is pretty much a standard statement that I get when people hear my major. You know, truth is, if I could read my own mind, I would actually be very ecstatic ;).
At the Freud Museum in London, England: He's inescapable in Psychoanalysis, Psychiatry and even Psychology.
Ok, news flash everyone. We don't read minds. We also don't use crystal balls, read tea leaves, tarot cards, and neither can we predict the future.
And while we're on the subject, yes, it is a Science. Something which many people don't seem to get.
Another common perception is that Freud is the God of Psychology. News flash again. No, he isn't.
While we cannot run away from Freud because many of his writings is applicable (not in every single way), Freud is inherently more relevant to the Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry.
And while we're at it, yes, Psychiatrists are medical doctors (and Psychologists are not, unless they also went to medical school).
Anyway, I'm curious as to how Psychology is taught in Malaysia. I guess I am wondering how different my experience would be had I done it locally. What about if I had chosen a different university in Canada, like a huge one? What about if I had done it in another country besides Canada?
What are the classes like? What are the discussions like?
How much exposure to research is there? How much emphasis is put on Statistics? How much hands-on experience do students (if they choose to) get if they want to be part of a research lab?
In one of my relationship classes, we had to role-play asking your not-very-cooperative partner to use a condom. We also had to then discuss with the professor and the rest of the class what possible answers did we encounter when trying to persuade another to wear a condom.
I turned to the guy I paired up with (who happens to be Malaysian!) and the both of us said the same thing: Would this happen back home?
So, would it?
This was only a relationship class. I think some people would die if it was the Human Sexuality classroom.
One of the professors of one of the sections gave assignments that would probably never have seen daylight in Malaysia (e.g., Visit a strip club (male or female) and observe the behaviour of both the dancers and the customers--a written paper was expected of the visit). Of course, students were given a choice and nobody had to do an assignment they were uncomfortable with.
What about research? We hear alot in the press about the need for Malaysian researchers and scientists producing world-class research in all fields.
My question is, how much exposure are students given to this? To produce world-class research, I'm guessing exposure to and experience with research has to start as early as possible, and the undergraduate years are the best time to start.
I'll be the first to admit that I've learnt the most when I was inside a research lab, because you finally get to put into practice what you've only seen in textbooks and heard from professors. Even when I was doing very simple work (inside the lab), it felt great to be able to have hands-on experience!
I'm also a self-professed hater of anything math-related. I despise math. With a lot of passion. The only part of math I ever could stand was Statistics, simply because it had diagrams (think graphs) and I am a visual learner, among others.
But too many a math teacher killed my tolerance of Stats.
When I heard I had to do Introductory and Advanced Stats as part of my Psychology degree, I almost cried.
I took Stats while I was in Inti Penang (I was told I would have to do it in Canada again anyway because a couple of the components of the Stats course was different, but I took it anyway for background knowledge), and Oh My God, I feared and hated it.
I never understood any of the principles, and ended up just memorising to get through.
When I took the similar-but-not-exactly-the-same course again in Canada, I told the professor point-blank how much I feared and despised it. And I remember how she would give me the reassurance that I was doing ok, and God bless her, use as many examples until I got it.
And I remember how her face grinned from side-to-side and how she pumped her fist when I got my A. And I remember getting the biggest hug (yes, from a prof!).
And I realise, you know what (don't tell my profs that, I still like groaning about it), it's not too bad.
In fact, a small part of me is beginning to like parts of it again.
I guess it makes a whole lot of difference when you have your own data to play with. A research project in which you get to see how the results pan out, from data you helped collect.
I remember a particular stats component that completely escaped me because I never got the head-or-the-tail. And I told one of my supervisors about it when she asked how my stats was coming along. She actually pulled out the chair, and said: "Sit, I'm going to teach you right now. I'll make sure you get it before you leave this room".
Amazingly enough, I got it. And simply because she used data and examples we were collecting ourselves.
And it really helps your critical skills when you have to decipher the data, explain the data so that someone outside the field can understand it, find loopholes in your own work and explain it (now, that's new! you actually have to tell people where your project is weak), and suggest future directions of the work.
And one of my professors is amazing with providing feedback for your work and academic writing, which I am extremely thankful for.
Would I have overcome my disproportional fear of Stats if I was doing my degree locally? I don't understand how a course which is so similar can be so different in how I face it. Is it the teaching method?
I know many people fear Stats.
So, if you're majoring in Psyc and fear Stats, have you?
I would love to hear opinions or other experiences, whether or not you're majoring in Psychology!