Interviewer: What is your specific interest in psychology?

Stella: To be honest, I came to UBC to study psychology, but after taking first-year courses, I was a little confused if that’s what I wanted to do or not – just because I felt that it was a little general and I did the IB program in highschool, and the first year courses here was kind of a repetition of what I had already done. I was like “oh I don’t know, do I really like this?” But then I took a couple second year courses that more peaked my interest, and I came to the conclusion that the reason I want to study psychology is probably because in any other discipline that I was taking, I would still focus on the human behaviour aspect of it, and why people decided to behave the way they did – in terms of historical aspect or why people behaved the way they did back then, and what influenced them in that environment then, and how that changed now. When I was taking history classes, or in the econ classes I took, I think I was more focused on how we behaved as a society in terms of – but in the econ terms if that makes sense! So, I think at the end of the day, I don’t know what I want to do with my degree just yet, but I do think I’m just more interested in like – people, I want to be surrounded by people. I feel like I’m always intrigued by why my friends behave the way they behave, adn then I try to psychoanalyze them a little bit.

Interviewer: So is that why you decided to go into Arts or the Arts part of psychology? Instead of going into something like neuroscience?

Stella: Ya. I do really like science. I really like bio, I’m ok with math – I don’t hate it! But what I liked more about bachelor of arts is that it kind of allowed me to take other disciplines that could be connected within psychology and take them more – for example, I’m minoring in IR (International Relations), and I feel that one of the reasons why I’m doing that is because it allows you to take a variety of disciplines that can provide a lot of context to then different fields of psychology. For example, taking PoliSci classes to political psychology, or I feel that history classes are really pertinent to cultural psychology and evolutionary psychology. So, I think I wanted to focus more on not the ‘nitty-gritty’ biology stuff of psychology that a bachelor’s degree in science would give me.

Interviewer: So you found the more human aspects of psychology more interesting?

Stella: Right, ya.

Interviewer: But you’re not specifically interested in social psychology? You’re more interested in psychology more broadly? But you find that you like a particular emphasis on the human centre?

Stella: I think that a bachelor of science, you need to have all the science courses as a baseline, right. So then neuroscience specifically focuses more on the chemical and biological mechanisms of the brain – which is super cool – but I’m more interested in the social behaviours or how people behave as a whole in societies or communities – not specifically the chemical underpinnings of that, and a BA would let me do that.

Interviewer: I also wanted to ask as well – you are an international student, I wanted to see – I know that a lot of people struggle with the challenges that arise from being far from home, as well as entering a new culture that is very different from your own. Do you find that that is the case for yourself? And do you think there could be anything that could benefit international students in that way (like something that could help international students sort of cope with that shift of culture from where you are originally from)?

Stella: I will say that I had a particularly difficult first year, just because I – it’s what you said – I was super far away from home, I didn’t have anyone I could speak my native language with in my first year. Although I’m a native English speaker it was still difficult for me to get used to speaking in English only. Culture is really different from mine back home. Unfortunately, some things can only be fixed with time, and just trying to open yourself up to how things are done in this culture, and going into certain activities with an open mind, as opposed to being like “oh this is not how I did it back home, so, I have no interest in doing something this way because they do it differently in this culture. I think trying to be more open minded is what helped me. Definitely looking to find some sort of a community that shares that culture you have back home. In my second year, I sought out other greek people – even if it was just sending a random instagram text without having ever met them. I think then, after that, you have to ask around – there are more people like you! You just have to make the decision to really look for them, and maintain these connections. I feel that now in my third year, I have formed somewhat more of a community that is more similar to my culture back home, but I also think that I liked living in Vancouver a lot more after I tried to be more open minded about the fact that it is a different place, and it’s not going to be the same as back home; but it has its pros and it’s cons as well. I think that helped me acculturate a little more as an international student.

Interviewer: So do you think that being in clubs and involving yourself in the community in a broader sense would be good?

Stella: Yes.

Interviewer: And I know that this is a bit of a plug for you, but the club you recently started or are trying to start – I don’t know if you want to speak on that.

Stella: I was going to be modest, but ya absolutely! I tried multiple different clubs in my first year, and I feel like that was really helpful to find people, and people of different backgrounds and see the similarities we have between us. I also, after trying to find more people that are Greek my second year, we kind of came together and decided we wanted to create a community for future generations to have so that they don’t have to feel so secluded when they come to Canada or UBC, because it is really far away from home and there are many things that are different. So, you know, if you can’t really find the community that you are looking for, or you have found people of it, but your – it’s hard to have them all together, you can make that your own – I think that’s another lovely thing that UBC offers and the AMS has the ability to create such clubs and communities to feel more at home.

Interviewer: So the name of the club is the UBC..?

Stella: That’s a good question! It’s the Greek Student Association. It’s called the Greek Student Association and for anyone that’s Greek and wants to join – or anyone that just wants to learn more about Greek culture, you’re so welcome to join our future events! We are in the process of becoming a club.

Interviewer: Do you have any recommendations for people that are thinking of entering psychology? Are there any difficulties that you faced in any academic pursuit? What would you recommend most for someone that is trying to involve themselves more in academics? I know in the first year it seems overwhelming… Would you have any recommendations for those people?

Stella: I think I did a lot better in my second year academically because I kind of figured out that psychology is typically structured in the format of three exams, so good notes are really important to do well in psychology! Going to class exponentially increases your grade even if you are not focussed the entire time that you’re there. Our professor told us this in our PSYC 304 class, that just being in the seat in the classroom increases your grade by 10% or something of that sort. So it’s silly, and it’s what everyone says, but good notes, going to class – talk to your professors! It’s so daunting – it was so difficult for me to do that in my second year, and I had to prep a week in advance because I felt so much social anxiety to talk to them; but, go talk to your professors, and ask them about their research or more questions about their class. I feel like if you create somewhat of a more personal connection, you are more inclined to want to do better in the class. As opposed to saying “oh I’m in a class with 300 students, my grade doesn’t really matter. Involve yourself in PSA events – psychology is the biggest faculty in Arts. There are so many psychology students and it’s hard to find – you typically don’t even take the same class with the same people for the first two years. Involve yourself in these events so that you can have classmates – and take classes together, form study groups, don’t be ashamed to talk to your neighbour and ask them to study. I was so scared to do that in my first year, oh my gosh! By my second year, I made it a goal to do that for every class. What else? In terms of notes, Cornell notes are perfect – they are such a good study mechanism – what’s it called? Anki! We love Anki.

Interviewer: Yes, I would agree with everything you are saying; it’s just about involving yourself in all facets! Yes, I do not have any more questions for you.

Stella: Oh, perfect!

Interviewer: I think you answered them all really well.

Stella: Other events I can think of is going to the psychology website – UBC professors have little presentations once a week, once every two weeks, they are super interesting – I do a bunch of those, and that’s really a fun way to involve yourself as well.

Interviewer: Ya, I think you have a really good perspective on this whole thing – thank you for taking the time to be interviewed.

Stella: Absolutely!


Interview Date: 25 October 2023
Interviewee: Stella Argentopolous
Interviewer: Emmett Harries
Transcriber: Gali Goldman