By: Z. Aazadeh Raja and Diana Bratu

She/Her/Hers, 3rd Year Psychology

Growing up as a third culture kid, most of my memories reflect constant change. Though I am from Egypt, I have grown up in many different countries including Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and now, Canada. Coming across the UBC stand during my grade 9 college fair, a spark ignited. Learning about UBC and it’s growing number of programs, with a highlight on Psychology ranking as number one in Canada, I was extremely intrigued. At the time, while I was interested in Psychology, I had not yet put much thought into what I wanted to do. Although, when hearing that the Psychology program at UBC was the best of the best, I knew it was for me.

Since that day, I’ve collected UBC’s brochures over the consecutive years, finding myself drawn to the UBC stall at the college fairs whenever I’d see them. In pursuit to prepare myself for my UBC acceptance, I switched over to IB instead of staying in the American Diploma Programme. With the American Diploma Programme I did not like the idea of having to submit numerous assignments in a short period of time. As a perfectionist it did not only overwhelm me but I was not able to take my time and prove my best work. My GPA struggled due to this, and knowing this would lower my chances for acceptance into competitive universities, I switched to the International Baccalaureate program. With IB, difficult as it was, it actually worked better for me because the exams and major assignment were due at the end of the year. This time gap gave me the opportunity to consistently develop and improve my work until the due date, which was quite constructive for me as a perfectionist. In the end, I received 24 credits and so, was able to completely skip my second year and am now completing my degree in three years instead of the usual four.

University decisions came around and I actually initially decided on attending the University of Waterloo. Numerous factors went into this: IB was harsh in the workload and I wanted an easier workload, also it was my way of distancing myself from my brother. Going to the same schools as my older brother throughout our childhood, I have been constantly associated with him, teachers and peers would refer to me as “his sister.” The fact that he had already achieved so much and was more accomplished, made me realize that I was lacking a stand for my own name. I didn’t want that for myself anymore, so I did look at UWaterloo as my escape from that. It was a challenging period, considering various factors of my personal and educational life to choose between my dream school and others. With a change of heart, at the last minute, I changed my flight to land in Vancouver so I could study at UBC. This was definitely a decision that was by no means simple but it’s the type of decision where I know I can make it work if I really applied myself.

I’m still learning but it was at UBC that I was really able to explore all the opportunities open to me. I’m mostly interested in Forensic Psychology and would like to open a forensic psychology department at the main university back home in Egypt. I’m also very interested in the idea of research in academia and would like to be a professor someday as well. I feel like there is so much I am curious about and while I pursue an idea, I am able to make cuts every time I lose interest and in this way, narrow down my search to what I really want to do. Therefore, my goals are pretty subject to change but I know whatever I end up doing, I will truly enjoy.

Being able to really enjoy whatever I’m learning has been a thrilling experience and here at UBC, I love how passionate everyone else is about what they are studying. It is really easy to connect to people here and learn about our common interests and studies. I also like that I am able to sit down and have a three hour conversation with someone about a class and how it applies to life in general.


What is one piece of advice you would give to someone in their first year?

I would say don’t get too hung up on the prerequisites. You will get through them. They’re definitely hard but I know if I had worried too much about my statistics or neuroscience courses, I would’ve dropped out of psychology much sooner. It’s also important to not get too caught up with the social life of first year because this can drag you away from your courses, making you miss the chance to really engage with your professors. Don’t skip a class because you were out too late one night because while friends come and go, what you learn at university lasts forever.


Looking back to when you were just about to start university, what would you say to yourself?

I would say “you’re never in over your head.”

It’s a different way of saying that you can do whatever you want to and if you can see yourself doing it, you can definitely achieve it!