Interviewers: Joint Project – Aleya Arziz Marzuki and Lydia Yeomans (Bugle Team)

Welcome to the Tricks of the Trade series! This interview scheme, brought to you by the Bugle team, is meant to bridge the gap between students of different years and help younglings learn from old-timers! Join us as fellow students share their thoughts about their uni experience, look into what this year has taught them, and give a tip or two about how to get through life at Bedford Way!

This week, we are pleased to have Fareeha, Jayde and Rosie talk to us about their time in second year psychology – so all of you first years, keep scrolling, cause they’re about to drop some knowledge.

How did you decide you wanted to study psychology in the first place?

Fareeha: During my A-levels, I had to decide between pursuing Medicine or Psychology, which seems like a fairly simple decision, doesn’t it? Just pick the one you want to study. Sadly, it wasn’t that simple because medicine was my parents’ dream and psychology was mine, so whatever decision I made would have left someone unhappy. In the end, however, I went with my gut feeling and fought for Psychology, and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made. This was after being taught it at A-levels by the most inspiring teacher, and also after having written my Extended Essay (a dissertation project) on Psychopathology, so I had researched into it quite a bit.

Jayde: I always enjoyed analysing characters in poetry and novels, and so for the longest time everyone just presumed that I’d end up doing an English degree. Then I took Psychology at GCSE on a whim, and here I am! I realised it was still essentially analysis of people, but that the more methodical way of analysing was far more appealing to me. My interest in mental health started growing during that time too, so when it came around to applying for uni, there was no question that I was going to study Psychology.

Rosie: ‘I decided that I wanted to read psychology after realising that I wanted to study something that was relevant to every-day life. While I enjoy things like maths and languages, psychology intrigues me most because of the way it can be applied to so many aspects of daily life. It’s the breadth of the subject, which has allowed me to keep my future career options fairly open, that attracted me most.’

What is the one thing you wish you had known in first year that you know now?

Fareeha: In first year, I wish I had gone to more Psychology events (like the Christmas party…I’ll never be able to unhear Alistair’s selected readings!), been part of the society, or just gotten to know my year better.

Jayde: How to write a lab report! Though I’m not entirely certain I know how to do that now either. Then there’s revision: I was at home for the entirety of the Easter holidays and I was so unproductive and stressed, I got barely anything done. I did a lot of crying and not a lot of learning. As soon as I got back to halls, where everyone was in the same position, I calmed down and managed to get properly into revising. So that’s what I wish I’d known; that maybe going home to revise wasn’t the best idea, for me anyway. I’ll definitely be staying in London this Easter.

Rosie: I wish I had known how to use databases to search for and access journal articles through institutional logins/ UCL Explore sooner. Reading just the abstracts of papers was quite limiting at the beginning of first year!’

What is the best study technique/resource you have found? Anything else younger students should note it comes to revising?

Fareeha: Honestly, it’s the hundreds of Psychology books that are available at our fingertips! It’s great that we don’t need to stick to one textbook, and instead can look for others if a certain explanation doesn’t quite clear things up. In terms of revision, looking at past year papers to “predict” questions, and then practicing them under exam conditions is really useful; we’re so used to typing and redrafting our essays that it’s easy to forget how to write with an old-fashioned pen and paper.

Jayde: I seem to change my favourite study method every time I study! In terms of revision, I do a lot of talking out loud as I find it easier to get information to stick in my brain if I’m voicing it rather than just frantically writing notes. I do a great deal of explaining concepts/answering questions/discussing theories aloud, on my own, in my room – which is sometimes a bit baffling for flatemates! In terms of studying in general just try not to slack and get behind with notes! I find that having a really thorough, complete set of notes is invaluable, and so I always try to have all of my lecture notes for one week done before the start of the next week.

Rosie: I find that it’s important to take regular breaks as this motivates you to work and not procrastinate. Also, for a subject like psychology, it’s great if you can find someone else on your course who you can revise with. Testing each other and being able to explain things that the other person might not understand, for example, is a really effective way of revising and is much more fun than sitting at a desk all day on your own making notes.’

Any lesser known tips about how to survive psychology at UCL?

Fareeha: Try your best not to fall behind on lectures or readings because it can pile up (especially Statistics!). It’s also important to work hard on your lab reports and stats because they can really bump up your grade in the end! Also, make full use of everything given to you – do studies you find interesting and not just for credits (like the MRI scan of your brain), and go to psychology events to get to know other people from the department, such as students from other years or even your lecturers.

Jayde: Walking into uni on the first Monday of term for a two hour 9am stats lecture did not feel very inspiring. So I started downloading episodes of ‘All in the Mind’ – a psychology and psychiatry podcast from Radio 4. I find it really helps me to reconnect with why I’m doing what I do, walking down Eversholt Street in the rain for a statistics lecture. I find it necessary in order to be able to study all the other stuff which is so much more interesting, and so I can eventually get to where I want to be. Such a cheesy tip, but I really enjoy my walks to uni now, and it even feels slightly educational!

Rosie: If you get a choice about what essay title or presentation topic to choose for your seminars make sure you look at past papers for the particular module so that you can choose a topic that’s likely to come up in the exam. The questions are often fairly predictable so writing an essay or presenting a title that is likely to come up saves you a lot of extra revision time when it comes to exam season.’

How about general tips regarding accommodation, food, and leisure around UCL?

Fareeha: Take first year student halls with a pinch of salt (Yes – your food may be stolen or wild Ramsay parties may leave you standing in the cold for an hour or so) because it’s all an experience! Also, get involved with societies, try new things and meet new people, I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Jayde: For accommodation, live close to uni in second year! It might be slightly more expensive rent-wise, but you won’t need to pay for any transport and it’s so much more convenient. I live by Mornington Crescent station – it’s £150 a week, I never spend any money on travel, and we’re perfectly situated between Euston for uni and Camden for leisure. In terms of food, I think I hold the world record for the largest amount of Sainsbury’s meal deals eaten by one person ever, but this year I bought a fabulous lunch box with compartments and cutlery and a little sauce pot to motivate me to make lunch at home. It works (mostly…) I am really bad at planning things for leisure, but I’d say try not to say no to things! I’m trying to be a bit more of a ‘yes’ person socially this year. Also, I am a big lover of pubs. Especially in the summer when you can sit in the beer garden and soak up the sun (if there is any.) My biggest problem with London pubs (apart from the prices!) are that they don’t sell any good ciders. I’m from Somerset, so proper cider is a must, and Strongbow just doesn’t quite cut it!

Rosie: If you’re having a busy week, and want to treat yourself or escape the workload for a bit, the Farmers’ Market outside Student Central sells ridiculously delicious food until 2pm on Thursdays. Best thing that ever happened to my Thursday lunch times!

Do you have any plans for after university?

Fareeha: I hope to go into Clinical Psychology after this (big shocker there!) but hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in some travelling as well as some volunteering.

Jayde: Unsurprisingly, like every other Psychology graduate ever, I want to do Clinical Psychology. So after uni it’ll be a good few years of racking up experience and doing a range of mental health related stuff really – which to be honest I’m quite looking forward to! When I go home every summer I essentially work full time, and it’s a nice break from full time studying which is really tiring in it’s own way. I’m happy to take my time to get there as I know I have a lot of growing and developing to do before I’ll be a viable candidate for the training. But clinical psychology is the end goal because I really am passionate about mental health.

Rosie: ‘I want to travel the world a bit after graduating and then I hope to get a job which will allow me to apply my knowledge of psychology in a commercial environment, such as consultancy.

Many thanks to our three interviewees!

Be with us in two weeks time, for stories and advice by students in their third year!