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Student experience

Student experience

Student Diaries

In 2019/2020 we asked one of our undergraduate students from each year group, as well as one member of staff, to record their experience at the Psychology Department at Royal Holloway for a week. These were posted on our Facebook page to give everyone an idea of what life is like here. Now you can read all the diaries below!

 

 

Introduction
Hi! My name is Skie and I am a first year Psychology BSc student. Over these next few days I will be giving you an insight into what a week is like here as a first-year Psychology student at Royal Holloway. Since arriving I have become a collective convenor for the Disabled Students' Collective, applied for a research assistant role in the Baby Lab and achieved a place on the RH100 Panel so it’s safe to say I’m getting stuck into uni life and I am really loving it!
Monday
I have no contact hours on Mondays so I can generally have a lay in which is a great way to start the week. So far, I have spent Mondays preparing for the week and completing any work that is due and whenever I must book appointments, I know Mondays are free. Long weekends also mean I can travel home comfortably and see family and friends for a little longer. Today I woke up at 9am for an appointment which I had from 10:30 to 12:30. I had some lunch and then watched some Netflix until a GP appointment at 4pm. After this, I met a friend and went to Kaspa’s in Egham before going back for dinner – yes, we had dessert before dinner, and it was delicious. After dinner I went to the library to study before going back to my flat for the night. While studying I read some very interesting papers about the links between narcissism and psychopathy and wanting to be famous. I love how interesting the reading and research is within Psychology. Mondays are also when there are club nights at Medicine with cheesy music and discounted drinks which you can’t really complain about!
Tuesday

Hi all! Possibly the best thing about Tuesdays at Royal Holloway is that it’s market day which is so useful for picking up breads, fruits and veg at low prices and without having to travel far. The market also brings lots of street food and my favourite is the cheese infused bratwurst which I often choose to have for my Tuesday lunch. Tuesdays for me mostly start with waking up at 9am for a 10am to 11am Introduction to psychological research lecture. Today we covered an introduction to handling data and statistics which really isn’t as scary as some people make it out to be. I then had an hour before my workshop at 12 which I used to organise my notes and slides from the lecture. The workshop ran from 12 to 1 and involved completing a worksheet on the computer to consolidate what we learnt in the lecture. I also used the time before my next lecture which was at 2 to 3 to complete the weekly quiz which is 10 multiple choice questions based on the 2 sessions.

The 2pm to 3pm psychology research toolkit lecture helps us to more efficiently learn the skills we need for our degree. Today we covered how to write about research papers in essays which is proving very useful for assignments. The 4th and final contact hour for this Tuesday was the 4th session of the 5-week psychological research Bootcamp which is a series of 5 seminars that have been helping us to get used to thinking critically about research. It’s also important to note that lectures actually end approximately 10 minutes before the hour so a one-hour lecture would actually be about 50 minutes to ensure everyone can travel and prepare for any following sessions. After walking back to George Eliot, I had dinner before heading back to the Windsor building for a session at 6:30 with the first aid society which is lots of fun and a nice way to wind down after a longer day.

Wednesday

Wednesdays are my only 9am start as I have a 9am to 11am lecture on self and society. I have really been enjoying these lectures as the lecturer is very engaging and passionate about the topics. We learnt about attitudes and attitude change which plays a large part in our assignment for this module which is an essay that accounts for 50% of our final module mark. The 2-hour lectures also generally run for 1 hour 40 as 10 minutes is set aside for a short break in the middle and they end 10 minutes before the hour. So at 11 I was back to my house in George Eliot to do some laundry and have lunch.

Wednesday afternoons are left free for societies and sports etc but today I spent the afternoon organising my lecture notes and doing some further reading before walking into Egham Highstreet to grab some groceries from Tesco. I also had a job interview and enjoyed some domino’s pizza for dinner. I then spent the evening making sure I saved the lecture slides for the 2 lectures I have tomorrow. These are uploaded to Moodle (our virtual leaning site) 24 hours before the lecture. Moodle as been very useful in organising resources and it has lots of information about the courses and assignments. We also have lecture capture which means our lectures are recorded and uploaded to Moodle so that we can rewatch anything we want to be reminded of for example.

Anyways I hope this is giving you a good insight into being a psychology student here. I’m having so much fun within my subject and outside of classes and everyone has been very easy to talk to both students and staff. See you tomorrow for Thursday’s entry!

Thursday

Hi again! Today I was able to have a slight lay-in as I didn’t have a lecture until 11am. This was on biological foundations of psychology in which we have been learning about the nervous system and nervous communication. It really isn’t anything to worry about especially if you have done biology at A’ level. At 1 o’clock, after my first lecture of the day, me and a friend excitedly attended a ‘Pets as therapy’ session at the Students’ Union. The positive affect the event had on people was very nice to see and stroking all of the lovely dogs was a highlight of the day. After the session, we decided to sit and have lunch in Tommy’s kitchen which is based in and run by the Students’ Union. We had loaded pita breads from Humpit (the humus and pita bread bar which is very well named) and it was delicious.

I then went back across campus for my next lecture and a great thing about having a smaller campus is that any required journey will rarely take longer than 7 minutes! This meant I was able to get to my next two-hour lecture which was on lifespan and development with plenty of time to spare. In this module, we have been learning about sensory development of infants and childhood social development for example. Sometimes 2-hour lectures can feel a little long, but the lecturers here do a great job at breaking up the dialogue with some videos to show real life examples and research that reinforces what they have been telling us. This lecture finished at 4 so I took time to go over the slides and further reading before dinner. For the evening I took my guide dog, Lucy (@lucy.the.guide.dog on insta), out for a free run in Founder’s meadow. It’s brilliant having her with me and lots of people enjoy seeing her on campus.

Friday

So today is my last diary entry on what it’s like to be a first-year psychology student at Royal Holloway. This morning, I got up at 9am and did some work on an assignment that’s due at the end of the month before going to a lab class at 11am to 12pm. It involved discussing a lab report which we had to read and begin marking prior to the session. It was very helpful and interesting as I learnt some key things about how to write good lab reports and about the marking criteria. At 12 I met with a friend for lunch before attending a one hour first-year induction session which recapped information about things like assignments and personal tutoring. I went back to my room at 2 to spend some time in my flat doing work and having some down time. Dinner consisted of wraps – a quick and easy meal to make. After dinner, I decided to go to the library to work more on the assignment for our module on psychological research. Once I got back at 10 pm, I could have gone to the Student’s Union club night - This week’s being ‘A Night at The Circus’, watched movies with my flat mates with the projector we bought or just relaxed in my room. We ended up hanging out as a flat which was a great start to the weekend.

If you take away anything from my posts, I hope it’s that Royal Holloway is a wonderful place to live and learn. I’m making wonderful friends and having lots of great opportunities both within my course and outside of it. Psychology here in particular is a brilliant course and the academics, and all staff here are very helpful. The pace and content really accommodate for all students and there is so much support and further learning available.

Good luck for the year and I hope to see as many of you as possible in the next year! I’ll be the one with the guide dog so feel free to come say hi. 

Introduction
Hi guys! My name is Abigail Tsui, and I am a second year Psychology student here at Royal Holloway. Over the next few days, I will be sharing what I do on a weekly basis, hopefully it’ll give you a rough idea of how it’s like to study here.
Monday

I started my Monday off with a lie in (what a great start to a busy week!), had a simple breakfast and headed to my PS2010 research methods lecture. Our lectures are usually 50 mins or an hour and 15 minutes long, depending on the module. Today’s lecture was about non-parametric tests, which I’m sure some of you have already studied it or are studying the topic in Psychology A-levels! So, in my second year, I am studying 4 modules in the first term, and 4 modules in the second term. This way, we get a more in-depth knowledge on each subject area.

After our lectures, we always get the opportunity to apply our knowledge to short quizzes and worksheets. I am so glad that if we have any questions about the lecture, the lecturers and teaching assistants are happy to answer my queries in workshops and drop-ins!

Today was relatively relaxing day for me, so after my workshop, my friend and I decided to have lunch together at the Boilerhouse Café, which is one of the most popular coffee spots on campus, and had a study session in the library together. I’ve always found it useful to be in the library with one other friend, since it motivates me to do some work and keeping me from procrastinating!

After a long day on campus, I made myself some leftover pizza (it doesn’t sound too appetising, but having leftovers is part of the student life!), watched "Friends" on Netflix with my housemates, whilst finishing on some lecture notes for tomorrow’s lecture 😊

Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, which means it is the day when I only have one lecture (hurray!), which means I have most of the day off to either catch up on some work and hang out with friends! The lecture I had today was on word recognition, which is a subject area which I’m really interested in. As a person who doesn’t have English as a native language, I’ve always been fascinated with how people attain languages other than their mother tongue, especially the processes that occur in their brains when they think in their second language. Did you know that our department does a lot of research on cognitive psychology like language acquisition? I bet you didn’t. If research is something you potentially want to look into, then Royal Holloway is the place to be!

Anyways, after my lecture, I went to Boilerhouse Café again (it’s my second home if you can’t already tell), and had a lovely time catching up with my good friend Kharesma 😊 Afterwards, I met up with two of my coursemates to discuss our proposal for an upcoming lab report. In my first year, all the lab reports we had to do were relatively simple, because the data has been collected for us, all we had to do was write up the actual report. In our second year, lab reports require more of a team effort, where a group of us will come up with two detailed proposals, then pick one that we think has a better design, collect data, and write up lab reports individually. Sounds complicated? I know. But not to worry, our lecturers provide a lot of guidance to make sure we know what we’re doing, so you’ll be ok!

Afterwards, I hung out with my really good friends Jemima and Izzy, and then had a simple dinner. Welcome to uni life – busy yet fulfilling! I am sat in the library as I am writing this, I am hoping to get some work done before my lectures on Thursday and Friday. 

Wednesday

Wednesdays are my day off when I have no lectures (yas!). It is usually the day when I catch up on some work that I haven’t been able to complete the past week, chill, hang out with friends, and get involved with societies! Btw, I’ve attached a photo of what my timetable looks like if you’re interested in knowing how my week is. It is so important to find the balance of work and social life, because too much of one or the other can be really stressful. I remember last year we had Mondays off, which meant that we always had a long weekend, how good is that? I have found it particularly helpful since all of our deadlines fall on a Monday, and to be honest, I have found myself often staying up late the night before. I definitely would not recommend pulling an all-nighter, and it’s something I’m looking to change this year!

Speaking about last year, I thought I’d clear up some of the misconceptions that people might have towards the first year of university. I’m sure a lot of you have already heard that all the coursework/assessments don’t count towards your final degree, and some people might think, ‘well surely I don’t have to put in a lot of effort then!’. Well as idyllic as that sounds, first year is still hard work. The Psychology courses at Royal Holloway are really good in that they lay a foundation for every student, whether you’ve studied Psychology before or not. In other words, first year is the year to make mistakes and figure out which subject area you’re interested in!

So, back to what I’ve been up to today. I’m fortunate enough to be part of the best society on campus (I’m very much biased) – the Royal Holloway Christian Union, and so I’m constantly helping out with events that we put on. For example, today, we have the first of two short lunchtime talks about Christianity and science. It was amazing to see so many non-Christians there! This is only one of the many things that the university offers: whether that is sports clubs, societies, fun and quirky events like pet therapy, there’s always something to do on campus!

I’m very much ready for some sleep now, tomorrow’s going to be a busy day!

Thursday

It has been a long day today, and I am finally sitting down to write today’s diary (it’s currently 12:07 am). I started my day off with a lab, my groupmates and I had to present our two proposals for a potential lab design in front of the whole class, it was very daunting. Despite the nervousness, I think it went fairly well, and we received a lot of useful feedback to what we can do to improve our experimental design. Lab sessions like this really equip us in so many ways: from Psychological knowledge to group work, to public speaking.

This afternoon, the Christian Union put on a lunch bar (similar to what we had yesterday, and our regular weekly meetings, which meant that my day has been really busy but fulfilling. I’ll be honest with you, the reality of being a university student isn’t always rainbows and butterflies; there are times when I just cannot motivate myself to get work done – and today was one of those days. It is important to remember that it’s okay, because everyone else is in the same boat. It is all about the balance (as have mentioned previously), and enjoying the university life as well as getting a good grade for your degree.

Friday

Finally, it’s Friday! Although, Fridays are my busiest days of the week because I have two 2-hour lectures! It sounds like a lot, but they really aren’t that bad because I really enjoy the modules. First, I have a lecture on conceptual issues in Psychology. It is uniquely different from all other modules because it examines the history of Psychology and examines the fundamental ideas behind the main Psychological topics. It also looks at empiricism from a philosophical perspective, which I find really intriguing. After an hour of lunch break, I have my second lecture on Personality and Individual Differences, which is basically about categorizing and separating human behaviour. Today’s lecture in particular is relevant to the coursework that’s due really soon, I better start writing the essay over study week!

Study week is quite similar to half term, but rather than jetting off on holiday, it is designed for students to have some time to rest, and to catch up on some reading. We are lucky enough to have study week, I know there are some subjects (which have less readings) don’t have study week! I am excited to spend the weekend in London and Cambridge to catch up with some friends! I have timetabled myself for the rest of the week for some work, as well as some rest!

Seeing it’s the last day of the diaries, I thought I’d address the most important question you might want to ask if you’re looking at study at Royal Holloway – “out of all the universities, why Royal Holloway?”. The answer is simple, because the Psychology course is great and on top of that, I am able to enjoy the full university experience whilst not feeling too overwhelmed.

Thank you for reading my diary entries this week, I hope it has given you a glimpse into what university life is like 😊

Introduction
Hi All! I'm Katrina - a third year BSc Psychology, Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Student. This week I'll be giving you a glimpse into my life at Royal Holloway. I thought I'd start off by telling you a bit about myself. I'm 21, originally from Malta and obsessed with figuring out how the brain works! I work as a part-time research assistant in the Language, Learning and Cognition Lab, where I collect data for various experiments. When I'm not in the lab or in the library you can find me re-reading any of the Harry Potter books or listening to The Beatles!
Monday

This term I have one taught module, The Ageing Brain, that takes place every Thursday morning, so for the rest of the week I spend my time working on essays, my final year project and my dissertation in the library.

Yesterday I submitted an essay for The Ageing Brain module and so today, I decided to treat myself by having a lie-in and by making pancakes for breakfast!

After this little treat I made myself some coffee and headed to the library to work on my dissertation. The dissertation is an optional extended essay where students can explore any topic of interest that isn't covered in the course. I've chosen to look into the Free-Energy Principle, which tries to explain how we perceive sensory signals from the external world and from within our own bodies. Today I worked on making a summary of the principle based on the papers I've been reading.

I've now finished the first draft of the summary - which isn't up to scratch yet, but I'll come back to it a few more times to edit and refine what I've got.

I'm about to head back to my flat for dinner, after which I’ll catch up with friends over a drink (and celebrate that essay submission one more time!)

Tuesday

I started off today with toast and a cup of coffee (no pancakes today 💔 ), followed by some reading for my dissertation. I stopped for a late lunch at 2, where I sat in the kitchen and chatted to a flatmate who is also a third year in Psychology!

As I mentioned in my last post, I only have one lecture a week, which means I have to organise my own schedule. This is both a blessing and a curse as it gives you the freedom to work when you feel most productive but it also means you have to resist the temptation to procrastinate. To help with this, I plan my day the night before and keep my phone out of sight for a few hours every day, which was today’s tactic.

After lunch I worked on my final year project, which is an experiment that tests whether the way we process visual information is linked to how well we do on visual reasoning tasks. As I had just received feedback on the draft project report, I planned how I would make the required changes over the next week. I started today by editing my introduction until 4:30 p.m., after which I needed a break from my room! So I walked to Founder’s pond, which has just been beautifully restored and is a great place for collecting thoughts and resting my eyes after hours of staring at a computer screen. Feeling refreshed, I got back to my flat at 5:30 p.m. and planned the tasks I’d tackle tomorrow based on how urgent each task is. I’ve now had my dinner and am ending the day in the best way possible – with a cup of tea and my guilty pleasure – an episode of EastEnders!

Wednesday

My day started at Boilerhouse café on campus where I made a revision plan. I’ve got three exams coming up in April and so I mapped out when I would make revision notes, do some further reading and write practice essays. I really enjoy working at Boilerhouse – the background noise helps me to focus and having good coffee close by is useful!

At 3 p.m. I made my way to the Oculomotor Lab to collect data for an eye tracking study. This is part of my job as a research assistant, which I’ve been doing since my first year. For this study we track participants’ eye movements using special cameras and software, while they complete tasks. Work as a research assistant also involves adding timeslots for participants to sign up to. This requires good time management so that I can test the number of participants we are aiming for and balance this with my coursework. Although this may seem daunting at first, you are always given support from Professors and colleagues in the lab and it’s a great opportunity to develop your skill set. Working as a research assistant has been an invaluable experience as I now understand what a career in research involves and that I really enjoy the research process. If you’re interested in research and want to find out whether you’d like to pursue it as a career, I would definitely recommend keeping an eye out for research assistant positions that are advertised the year or contacting scientists in the department who are investigating topics that interest you.

Testing ended at 4:45 p.m. so I made my way home to have a little break and then worked on my project draft again. I’m now off to make myself some dinner and read a few chapters of ‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Philip Pullman.

Thursday
Hi all! I hope you’ve had a good day. Mine was supposed to start with a 10 am lecture for ‘The Ageing Brain’ module, about how and why cognition (such as reasoning skills and memory) changes as we age. Unfortunately this was cancelled and will be rescheduled. Instead of my lecture, I went back to my flat and decided to draft an outline of my dissertation (this was quite the procedure – as you can see from the picture). At 1:30 p.m. it was time to test a participant for Session 2 of the eye tracking experiment. This took about 25 minutes, after which I made my way to the library to work some somewhere other than my room. At the library I added some new timeslots for the experiment and then continued work on my dissertation until 6:30 p.m. For dinner, I prepared miso-glazed salmon with rice and veg and then treated myself to tea and chocolate. All in all, it wasn’t the most exciting day but it was a productive day, which is a win in my books! See you tomorrow for the final diary entry ☺️
Friday

Hi all! The time has come for my last post, I can't believe how quickly this week has gone by. Today, I dedicated some time in the morning to cleaning my room, finding relevant research papers for my dissertation and to giving my grandmother a call. After lunch, I helped a friend prepare for an interview she had for a Master’s degree. If, like my friend and I, you are considering graduate education, a lot of time in third year is spent submitting applications for graduate courses. This typically involves writing a personal statement, CV and asking for references. Some courses also require an interview. The whole process can take up quite a lot of time and energy but equally, you learn a lot about how to present your achievements and how to perform during an interview. The Careers Service at Royal Holloway offers a lot of help with applications, ranging from giving feedback on CVs to conducting mock interviews. Once my friend finished her interview, we walked to the library together and had tea and coffee in our re-usable cups. At the library we headed to the silent section, where you can use one of the library’s PCs or your own laptop. I used one of the PCs while my friend used one of the individual study booths that overlooks the library foyer. Here we worked until 7:15 p.m. before heading home for dinner.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my week, where I balance coursework with my job as a research assistant and the odd lecture! I am so happy I was asked to contribute. Studying at Royal Holloway has allowed me to develop my intellectual and practical skill set, be part of a great community and to find a really supportive group of friends, so I’m glad I got to share this with you.

Monday
Day 1 of a week long diary of RHUL Psychology Prof. Amina Memon. Week begins with swim @ 7am (I’m a lark), back home for breakfast and Moodle admin (Yr 3 slide handout uploaded) before 9.30 train to Egham. Coffee with staff mentee, catch-up and back to office to edit lecture/readings for masters course and review a masters ethics application. Lunch with PhD student advisee & Johannes Zanker with interesting discussion on food waste and the fiancé problem as studied in Furl lab. PM-learned how to use mail merge for email reminders for research survey on deception, edited ethics application & submitted. 5pm train home, checked lecture slides for tomorrow then to yoga class! Dinner @9pm with Silent Witness- turning off screens now zzzz...time
Tuesday
Tuesday: Left home early to get a head start on the day. After tweaking some lecture slides I met a colleague in Clinical Psy to discuss an idea for a grant proposal. A dash to Founders next for my weekly Criminal and Forensic (Year 3) lectures. I was extra nervous today as a colleague (RB) was doing peer observation, we do this routinely. Lecture was on victims of crime, not a cheerful topic but important to understand the justice gap (my Yr 3 students now know what that means). Short of time but took 15 to gobble up the leftovers of last night’s fish pie. My pm class is mostly MSc Forensic students on a cognitive & social approaches to forensic investigations module. Its only N=40 so a lecture, group work combo, a different group member presents a new study. This week: how interviewees strategically regulate the information they provide when their accounts contain both truthful and deceptive information. Just made it to fruit/veg market after and made a risotto tonight -enjoyed with a glass of beer in front of 🙂 fire. Still a few emails to respond to but then I’ll switch off.
Wednesday
Wednesday and no lecturing today -yippee! Did some admin am for next student recruitment event and work on getting applicants holding offers here. Then reviewed the peer evaluation from the masters presentations yesterday and was in for office hours. After lunch was time for research. I have a dataset from a clinical trial comparing the effectiveness of two therapeutic treatments for adults suffering from severe child trauma. It’s taken 4 years to get this data and the portion of it I’m working with are the descriptions of the memories (pre and post memory). I still have analysis to do but managed to make a start on the introduction this pm before having a lovely run in Windsor Great Park with Jessie Ricketts. It did us the world of good and rewarded at the end by seeing a deer on campus! My son is over from the USA tonight for 1 night only so I shall devote what remains of the evening to him.
Thursday
Thursday: Today I took a leave in lieu of having spent the day on campus last Saturday (student recruitment). Did I switch off from work? I tried and did get some household chores done but email and social media makes it hard and there’s often stuff related to my expertise on the news. Relevant for my lecture on interrogations in Week 5, a news report released today featured 2 psychologists* who developed torture based interrogation methods following the Bush coercion regime for former US prisoners. There is no evidence these methods elicit intelligence or true confessions. *These guys had never conducted an interrogation themselves and their research expertise was in a different area. The inspectorate also published their report on prosecutions for sexual assaults which was depressing (you can see my response on twitter @AminaMemon1). On a more + note, I am at a concert tonight, Fatoumata Diawara, her music is uplifting & she’s so cool.
Friday
Friday and my last diary entry. Working from home on my adult trauma study using SPSS via campus connect. So frustrating as broadband slow and had to re-open the SPSS each time the connection dropped losing entries/edits to the datafile. I gave up eventually to work on the literature off-line but progress was slow and distracted by email/calls mostly from European colleagues sending condolences on Brexit day. Having experienced racism as a child in the 60s, I was filled with optimism when Britain joined EU in 1973 and right now I don’t want to even think about what Brexit will mean for this country. So with good chocolate and Ludovico Einaudi to sustain me, I completed some student references for masters courses. Leaving you with a photo from last nights concert (Fatoumata Diawara was awesome).

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