My journey into Psychology

You might be wondering why on earth would I be writing a post about Psychology. Since when did “I” had anything to do with Psychology?

Early this year, I took up on studying a Psychology subject through Open University Australia (OUA).  I had thought of going back to university in Australia to study something in the health sector, specifically in disciplines such as Speech Pathology or Physiotherapy. The expensive master degrees were what I had looked at. Both these courses had a first year Psychology unit listed as a pre-requisite unit, hence, I took on the challenge so that I would be ready when I wanted to kickstart my health degree studies in the very near future.

The Psychology unit I enrolled in was offered by Swinburne University through OUA. This was my second time studying with OUA but first time undertaking study in a different country. First time was in 2013 where I studied a Mathematics unit, Introductions to Statistics. That experience went pretty smoothly. The lecturers did a great job setting out the content. There was a great online support set up where students could gather the subject material through the deployed online education platform, Blackboard. Blackboard also included discussion forums that allowed students to interact with their fellow classmates and lecturers which was helpful when one ran into any problems and wanted others feedback. As someone who comes from a Mathematics background, it wasn’t very hard for me to grasp the concepts of this subject. Psychology, however, was something I had never studied before. I saw this as an opportunity to try something new.

Psychology was an area that I wanted to tap into for a long time. I saw studying Psychology as a way to get into people’s minds allowing one to better understand other’s behaviours and way of thinking. When watching a thriller or crime investigation drama, my favourite part always was to listen to the investigators analyse the evidence to find the killer and understand the potential twisted reasoning for their actions. But all jokes aside, because I am considering a career in the Health sector, it made sense that I had to study Psychology as I would be dealing with patients who come from all walks of life and could potentially be suffered from a sickness that was weighing down on them. I believed if I studied Psychology, it may make me a better practitioner. With this in mind, I enrolled into my first ever Psychology unit in February and started my three-month online study journey while living in Japan.

Studying online is a challenge and is fully driven by self-motivation. Swinburne, thankfully, have a very mature set up and support system for their remote students. Throughout the study semester, lots of people in class shared in the available Discussion forums their struggles and asked for help. People mentioned struggles with getting the text-book, while others had technological related struggles and such. It shouldn’t come as a shock that I also experienced struggles on this study journey.

What surprised me was my struggles with the bloody subject itself. In less than a few weeks, I was finding trouble grasping the true essence of the subject and purpose of it all. The conceptual and theoretical aspect of the subject for which attracted me to study it first had somehow become the very reason that made me no longer appreciate it as much. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I gradually realised how less scientific or biologically based Psychology was.  I found it to be a field more in the realms of ideas and presumptions. I am not trying to disregard the field of Psychology, but more point out that as opposed theory and concept, which is ‘intuitive’, or thinking on the hop or being more spontaneous, which is “perceiving”, I prefer tangible, clear and concrete, detailed information that can be applied in real ways while also appreciating concepts with order, input and structure. This may explain why I had chosen to study IT and Maths when I first entered university.

What also really made me angry about studying this subject that the misguided or misinterpretations one can have of the topic or tasks. One of the assignment pieces for this subject was to write a 2000 word essay. It was worth 35% of the overall grade. While writing essays do not frighten me, it was more what I had to write that did. The assignment wanted me to write if human mood was impacted by the weather. When I first read this assignment, it didn’t sound too bad. However, a few weeks into the subject, I realised how very little guidance and support students had for the essay. In my experience when given an assignment for a subject, it is usually an extension of what had been taught in the unit content itself. In the case of this assignment, it had completely no relationship and that not only put me off, but many others of my fellow classmates. 

I came very close to quitting and giving up. I almost didn’t submit my final essay which I had already committed weeks and weeks of effort. A close friend of mine even commented on how obsessed I was being with studying this subject. Just so you are clear, I was obsessed by the fact I wanting to do well in the unit rather than grasping the subject and understanding the ideas of the content. Somehow, I managed to get my final essay in and get through the exam. I am in debt to my friends who were kind enough to check my essay which I ended up getting 24 out of 30. I also managed to get through the final exam, which was a 120 multiple choice question exam. Not knowing exactly how I did it, I did pass the exam. In fact, I completed the subject with 77% giving me a distinction on the subject.

I was 3% off to getting a High Distinction. An old friend jokingly said if I get a High Distinction in Psychology she would classify me as crazy and would disown me as a friend. Well, given my score, I guess I am safe.

Whilst I am glad I passed the subject, this probably will be the last time I want to commit time to studying Psychology. I do not deny that Psychology is an interesting area. But it is not an area for me. I remain interested in the art of understanding people’s minds and behaviours, but I shall leave it to others to crack the code of mystery world of Psychology.

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