By Inyoung Kim, Nafisa Golwala

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Virginia, like the state. I’m a third year psychology major and a French minor. I’m an international student and I come from a lot of different places but the most recent place was Singapore and I currently live on campus.


When you initially started studying psychology, what was one study that you learned about that fascinated you the most? 

I think it was definitely the Standford Prison Study. I was like wow, people are cruel out here! Just the way that you can get into role playing so much that you forget where you are coming from, cause they knew they were in the study too. It’s not like they were tricked, or psychologically manipulated into doing it, it just turned out that way and its crazy how, as humans our brains function so interestingly. There was this ted talk I watched, where it was said, “We as humans are so sophisticated, and we are so powerful on earth because we learn to interact with each other and other animals. The way that they interact with each other is not as sophisticated as we do it, because we naturally start talking to people and naturally create connections. Our brain power starts working together and creates this power that we have which dominates others.” That really fascinated me, and I made me want to learn more about my brain. 


Is there anyone in the field who has inspired you? This could be professors you have enjoyed taking lectures with or you know even other students. 

I think a psych professor who really inspired me is Dr. Benjamin Cheung. He talked about how he was an undergraduate psych student here at UBC and how he went on to do his masters here as well; how he did his whole PHD here, and now he’s a professor here! I thought it was interesting how he really really liked UBC so much he decided to stay all the way. Also so many psych students really really like him as a professor, because he’s just really fun and his lectures are super engaging, he’s so friendly, so approachable, and he’s on reddit too, which is amazing! Also it’s so interesting to see how so many students in the psych department are so creative about what they want to do in the future with their psych degree, which is really inspiring and really reassuring that you can come out of this with a career, with so many different options.


Tell us about how you stay organised and manage your time as a psych student

I tried to utilize what I learned about my own brain  and applied that to myself in my life to organize my time and stay on top of things. Personally what I found helpful was using a lot of calendar reminders, which I know a lot of people use already. I particularly really like notion, which is a website where you can add different elements and create your own kind of blog that helps you stay on top of everything. I take notes on my notion app as well, and just keep all my productivity tools in one website or one app, because I am not pulling information from all different types of apps or tools. All of my information is in one place, and that’s really helpful. 


What do you see yourself doing in 10 years time?

I’m still thinking about it, but I want to go into the education route without doing the teaching: I am interested in counseling, or administrative staff, like principals, the dean, or that kind of stuff. Even writing textbooks, being able to create a curriculum is something I find really interesting. I am interested in the education system in general, and I did think about teaching at one point, but I feel like I am more interested in applying psychological phenomena into the curriculum, and creating a new education system based on that. As I know a lot of people right now are thinking about different ways to improve the educational system in North America, or that part of the world. I find that kind of research really interesting. I would want to be part of that. 


Are there any theories that  you are interested in studying further?

I am really interested in studying theories about mass groups of people. Anything, that’s about like a whole group of people, and how one thing can change a whole group of people. Like cults, I am really interested in cults. The cult leader can say some stuff and then a bunch of people, because they are vulnerable in certain positions, will follow whatever they say. I just find it so interesting how your brain can be manipulated like that. 


When did you realize that psychology was the career you wanted to pursue? 

Grade 11, when I took my first psychology class! I was really interested and wanted to dig deeper, so in grade 12 I took advanced placement psychology, like college level, it replaced PSYC 101 and 102. So I took that. It definitely went a lot deeper than like normal highschool psychology. So, I noticed that in university you get to take classes in such specific topics, like right now, I’m taking a social media class in psych and it’s great. I love that class!


What is some advice you could give your younger self about your chosen career path? 

Go in it with an open mind. Like I used to be really worried about what kind of career path I would go into after college. And I think I would tell my younger self to just chill. Things are going to work out on their own. There is so much stuff that you don’t know, there’s always more that you’ll learn about. Open up your mind a little bit more and embrace all the information that can go inside your brain. 


Is that the  advice you’d give to students planning to pursue psychology? 

Some general advice that I would give to psychology students would be to not be so worried about career paths. There are a lot of stereotypes, where people are like if you go into psych you don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Don’t let that stereotype get to you. There are so many things you can do with a psych degree, you could go into a Master’s program that’s more specific to what you’re interested in therefore enter your future career. There are a lot of things you can explore, with your passions or outside hobbies and everything. You can apply psychology into basically everything. 


That’s really great advice! How has studying psychology impacted your life?

I am more hyper aware of situations that are going around in my life. Comparing it with someone, who is for example doing an engineering degree, they probably wouldn’t be so focused on interpersonal relationships as I am, or focused on someone’s body language or attitude or someone’s mental health for example. When you are learning about something and are passionate about something you keep thinking about it and therefore when you notice something similar to it, you think to yourself “Oh wait i know about this. I can apply what I learned to this situation.” Interpersonal relationships specifically, friendships or relationships, I am a lot more aware about the little details in terms of people’s behaviour. I am a better listener and observer after studying psychology after my third year now.