Smorgasbord Sundays: Back to School

Back to School Smorgasbord SundaysWow, it’s already the second day of September! Where has the time gone? *Looks under cushions* Oh, there it is. It was just playing Hide and Seek. πŸ˜‰

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Labour Day weekend. Hope that you’re having a great long weekend so far.

And it’s also that time of year – soon many students will be heading back to school! I wish you (both students and teachers) a challenging and insightful year. Hope that you learn many useful things in your classes.

I’m not going back to school. I graduated with my Psychology Honours B.A. in 2005 and began working full-time immediately after graduation.

Yet even to this day, so many people who meet me for the first time and want to get to know me better ask, “Are you a student?” or “Are you in school?”

I guess my innocent face makes me look younger. (My hair conceals those little devilish horns sticking out from the top of my head.) πŸ˜‰ And they’re always surprised when I tell them that it’s been some time since I graduated from university…

In today’s Smorgasbord Sundays post, I reminisce about my university days and a ‘fight’ with a psychology professor.

The photo I took came from my very first psychology textbook. It was full of interesting studies, charts, and photos. Phew, and the glossy pages plus hard cover made it really heavy to carry around to classes. (I commuted to campus, so the long bus and subway rides sometimes felt like a workout!)

This book was for an introductory first-year university course, so it did a good job at giving students an overview of tons of different topics. This wasn’t my favourite psychology textbook for school, though. It only skimmed the surface.

The best textbooks (and psychology courses) were the ones in my third and fourth years. No only did I get to dive deeper into the material and question everything more instead of just absorbing information, but I also loved being able to apply what I learned to my daily life.

Plus since I was a Psychology Honours student, in my fourth year, I devised and conducted my own study. In case you’re curious, I studied adult humour in comics, gender, and religious affiliation.

In my four years as a psychology student, the one thing I noticed was that whenever textbooks talked about humour, the subject was mentioned only very briefly compared to other topics like psychological disorders and memory.

In my thesis course, it seemed likeΒ everyoneΒ wanted to study learning and memory. It made me feel like an oddball.

When it was my turn to present the research proposal to everyone, a lot of my classmates thought it was a good idea, but the professor oddly wasn’t as open-minded. In fact, after class, she pulled me aside and asked me to consider studying something in the field of cognition instead and to completely scrap the idea of studying humour! πŸ™

This caught me off-guard because the whole point of our thesis was to try to do something original and to uncover something new. (Whether you do or not is another concern, but you’re supposed to at least try to do something different instead of just replicating a study.)

The professor told me that she had been teaching the thesis course for over 20 years (or something like that. I can’t remember the exact number, but it was a long time), and she said that only one student studied humour. It was her tone of voice that made it sound like studying humour isn’t a topic that is highly respected. Bull poop!

Without missing a beat, I just told her that’s exactly why I think it’s a great topic for me to study. It’s understudied, there’s more room for me to conduct an original study, and humour is a topic that affects everyone, regardless of culture, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

Since my research proposal fulfilled all the assignment criteria, she couldn’t actually deny me the opportunity to conduct my study. But, oh, at every single turn, she tried to dissuade me. It was a very strange feeling because it made me respect her less.

I usually go into classes with the utmost respect for professors, and then they can win or lose ‘points’ along the way.

To actively discourage someone from studying something they’re passionate about without any good reason other than that ‘not many people study it’ is extremely foolish and closed-minded. It’s like telling a horse, “Go explore the meadow, but put on these blinders and only trot in a straight line.” This horse decided to gallop in a zig-zag and fling the blinders off.

When I look back now, I’m glad that I kept fighting to study it. Fighting for what I believed in was a great lesson in itself, and that experience (although tough at the time) is something that I now remember whenever I’m going through a personal challenge in my life or at work. It reminds me that sometimes you have to go with your gut if you feel it’s right, regardless if it’s easier to fold under the constant pressure of others.

Okay, when I sat down to write this blog post, I had no idea how long it would become. And I could literally keep going on and on and on. Energizer Bunny here…But it’s a good idea to save some for another time. πŸ˜‰

In case you’re curious to see a close-up shot of the page from my first-year psychology textbook, here it is.

I chose this section because I liked how it reminds me that “there is a positive correlation between income and subjective feelings of happiness, but in modern, affluent cultures the association is surprisingly weak”.

Back to School Smorgasbord Sundays

In case you’re still curious, this is the first-year textbook that it’s from:

Psychology Themes & Variations by Wayne Weiten Psychology Textbook for University

Now I have some questions for you:

  • Are you heading back to elementary school, high school, university, grad school, or work?
  • What subject in school did you enjoy the most? (My favourites were psychology, sociology, English, and instrumental music.)
  • What’s your major? Or, what would you major in?

Happy Sunday, everyone! πŸ™‚


22 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Sundays: Back to School

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Gelic’ nail art!

      Not sure why she was wrestling with me so much, but it was weird how she kept trying to discourage me. If anything, that just energized me and made me really want to study humour more.

      Dare to pursue what you’re most interested in! When you combine passion with education, it snowballs into something really powerful that sets you apart from the pack.

  1. Karen

    I’m not heading back, but my oldest son is heading back to Sr K (last year he was in JK). I too have a back to school memories with my oldest son being a baby and me going into my 2nd & 3rd year of college. (plus being pregnant in my 1st yr!) For the most part all my teachers were very supportive.
    Karen recently posted: OPI Skittles & Braided

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Karen!

      That took a lot of strength to go to college while being pregnant. Going to university was already challenging for me. I can’t even imagine having to handle pregnancy, too. You’re a trooper!

  2. Alison

    I’m a psycholinguist (a psychologist who studies how people learn, use, and understand language), and I just wanted to let you know that there is a small but growing number of people in my field who are starting to study things like how people understand jokes, sarcasm, and irony. It is definitely a legitimate area of study, and when you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that we are able to use language in those ways, since it usually involves thinking of multiple meanings for one word (like in a double entendre) or understanding things in a non-literal way (like, if someone rolls their eyes at you and says “that’s soooo interesting,” they actually mean the opposite of what they said). It’s sad that your professor didn’t want you to explore that topic. An undergrad thesis project is a good time to study something a little out-of-the-ordinary. (I have a friend who wrote her senior thesis on the use of “that’s what she said” in the TV show “The Office.”) Anyway, I’ll stop now- I could go on about this stuff forever. But I hope that experience hasn’t soured you against all psychologists- most of us are nice, (somewhat) normal people! πŸ˜‰

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Alison!

      Your field of work sounds very interesting. I think that language is one of the most important inventions ever, so I have the highest respect for your work!

      Do you have any insights to share based on what you’ve discovered so far? I’m very curious!

      Thank you for letting me know that there’s hope for humour as a research topic. I really hope that more and more people ‘take humour seriously’.

      Oh my gosh – your friend’s thesis sounds like something I would love to read. Combining pop culture with research gets the thumbs up from me.

      Hehe, no, that one experience certainly wasn’t enough to make me view psychologists poorly. πŸ™‚ I did have a lot of other great psychology professors, too. Plus I don’t believe in letting one bad apple spoil the bunch.

  3. Lawren

    This is my second year not going back to school. It still feels weird to have graduated from college and now working full time. I still haven’t gotten the hang of it πŸ˜› I studied graphic design and am happy to report that I’m doing it full time now at a very well known Canadian company πŸ™‚

    Good for you for fighting for what you wanted! Not a lot of people are brave enough to do that. I always strived to be different in school. I always wanted to think outside the box and come up with something interesting, whether my professors liked it or not. I always felt that my professors respected me for doing so :3

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Lawren!

      I’m so glad that you landed a great job with a reputable company! πŸ™‚ Hope you’re really enjoying it and that you’ve made a lot of good friends at work. The people really set the tone for the work environment. I hope that you have a great relationship with your boss and that (s)he respects you. πŸ™‚

        1. Mary Post author

          I see. Follow whatever you think is most interesting to you and what you’re good at. You won’t be steered wrong by your talents and passion.

  4. Jessica

    Yipes. That professor sounded like a real piece of work. A professor should really encourage thinking outside the box. It shows that as a student you are really passionate about the subject, not just skimming something off the surface to pass the class and get a grade. Good job for sticking with what you wanted! I bet it was a really interesting project to do!

    I’ve been back at college for about a week. I’m a double major (History and Russian/Post-Soviet Studies) so I’ve got a lot to keep me busy. And I’m a junior, so I have to start thinking about *gulp* THE FUTURE (dun-dun-dun).

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Jessica!

      It was really strange because she was encouraging, but only about certain topics. Haha, so basically you could thinking outside of the box…but within her box. :S

      Yes, the research study was very interesting to conduct, and so many of the participants even told me that they enjoyed being involved in something that was different and even fun!

      Hehe, the future can be intimidating, but I really believe that as long as you follow what you enjoy and what you’re good at, things will work out. And even when you get out of university, you may follow a different career path than you expected when you were in school. That’s the beauty of life. πŸ™‚ We go on incredible journeys.

  5. Gosia

    oh my gosh, Mary, I also graduated with honors in psychology!!!! I concentrated on physiological aspect of psych though (my second degree was nursing and I went on to get MSN in anesthesia). I would love to know what your findings were in your humor study!!
    I can’t say that I had closed-minded teachers like yours but I definitely came close to those who were major pains in the ass!!! One of them was unfortunately my thesis director, and that woman took years off my life!!! It’s been over 7 years from my graduation and my blood still boils when I think about her!!! =))
    It’s so good to be out of school, isn’t it!! I was thinking about auditing some courses, but somehow I still cannot get myself go back to school! =))
    Gosia recently posted: Monday Blues out of this world!!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Gosia!

      Oh man, I wasn’t the best at the physiological side of psychology. That took more effort on my part to learn. Kudos to you!

      Since you have your MSN in anesthesia, you may be interested. A few months ago, my friend introduced me to this movie about how a man went under anesthesia, but was still conscious of everything. It was pretty terrifying because there are some rare cases where that actually happens in real life. Supposedly it’s when patients get too much muscle relaxant before the anesthesia or something like that.

      Oh boy – what did your thesis director do? Was she just really difficult to get along with? Or was she very nit-picky?

      YES, it’s great to be out of school. I know a lot of people who really wish that they could stay in school for the rest of their life, but I was really anxious to get out, apply some of what I learned, and also get paid…hehe! (It was a great feeling that instead of paying for tuition and textbooks, someone was paying me. Of course then I moved out and had to pay more bills. Easy come, easy go!) πŸ˜‰

      To be extremely brief, what I found in my research wasn’t anything mind-blowing…haha! I found that men rated adult humour in comics higher (i.e. funnier) than women did. For both men and women, if they scored higher on the religious-affiliation scale, they rated adult humour in comics lower. It was exactly what I predicted before I conducted my research, and I’ll admit that I was disappointed that I didn’t find out anything new.

      1. Gosia

        oooh so religious people are not funny you mean?? LOL =))
        my thesis director was so damn picky that it drove me insane!!! I would submit my thesis and she would scratch all over it in red, add this, add that. So when I did, she would scratch it again, oh no, you don’t need this. gaaaah!!! To show you how bad it was, we all defended our master theses, and GRADUATED, but she didn’t give us our written thesis back yet… so after graduation instead of celebrating, off home we went to work on our thesis again… biooootch!!!
        As far as that movie goes, is it called “Awake”? if so, that is one of the dumbest movies involving anesthesia.. LOL I haven’t seen it personally but I’ve heard about it. It IS possible to be awake under anesthesia and not being able to move, but that only happens (IF it happens at all!) to high risk patients, like cardiac bypass, emergency c-section, or major trauma. And even then it’s only like 1% or so. So if you ever have surgery, there is really nothing to worry about!! I hate that movie, it scared the shit out of my patients, and that’s all I was hearing for a while (am I going to be awake???). Now it’s more of “Will I get any of that Michael Jackson drug??” aaaargh!!! =))
        Gosia recently posted: Zoya "Nova"

        1. Mary Post author

          Hey Gosia!

          Hahaha! Well, it seemed like those with higher religious affiliation just didn’t ‘appreciate’ adult humour in comics. πŸ˜‰ But, out of all the participants, there was only one person who actually was offended by the comics. Everyone else had a dirty mind. Hehe!

          Your thesis director – just WOW! I can’t believe she peed on your graduation celebration…Haha, not literally…although that would just add to your story, I guess! πŸ˜› Well, at least it’s over and done with. You worked hard, and now you can tell everyone about it…hehe!

          YES, the movie was called Awake. It had Jessica Alba in it. A few friends and I watched it, and after I saw it, I couldn’t help but feel scared. (Yup, it was pretty stupid, but I have an over-active imagination. Literally just hearing creepy sounds can freak me out if imagine the scenario! :S) I mean, it’s not like it was a horror movie, but it made me feel very uneasy. The entire time I was heading back home, I couldn’t shake it out of my head. What if that happened to me? What a nightmare! That movie really preys upon fears, and before I watched it, I didn’t even THINK about that kind of stuff, so it freaked me out. (Thank goodness I don’t need to go under the knife for anything yet.)

          My friend (who introduced me to the movie…she saw it before) actually said that when she first saw it, a day after, she had to go to the doctor for something and he was going to put her under. Haha, but because she was freaked out by the movie, she told him she would do it without the anesthesia! (Obviously it was a case that anesthesia was optional.) My friend’s a little crazy…haha!

  6. Kay

    Hi Mary!

    I’ve just read several of your Smorgasbord Sunday posts and I wanted to let you know that you’re an extremely engaging writer, and I enjoyed reading the posts that I read πŸ™‚

    It’s interesting to know that you have a psychology degree as I am hoping to major in child psychology in the future!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Kay!

      Thank you so much for saying that. It’s a huge compliment, and when I read it, my whole face lit up because writing is one of my biggest passions. Actually, I consider writing to be a bigger passion of mine compared to nail polish, so that’s saying something! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for making my day, and I wish you all the best in your educational pursuits!

  7. Laura

    Hi, I was just stumbled upon your blog today, and I was just curious about what you do for a living. You said you were able to get a full-time job with a B.A. in Psychology. I also have a B.A. in Psychology, but I only seem to be able to find part-time work. I would really appreciate hearing your answer, because I’m beginning to feel like my Psych degree is useless.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Laura!

      It’s understandable that you’re feeling frustrated, but the economy is bad, so you have to keep pushing yourself to apply, apply, and then apply to more. Eventually you’ll get interviews, and you WILL land something. The hardest part is staying motivated even when you aren’t hearing from the employers who you’re interested in.

      Currently I’m in marketing, but it’s an umbrella for a lot of other things I do on the job. I’m very thankful that I have a job in which I have a lot of creative freedom. It’s hard work, but I thrive on challenges, especially when put under tight deadlines.

      When I first graduated from university, however, my first full-time job was as a writer. I really didn’t want to pursue becoming a psychologist or doing psychological research in a clinical setting. Writing has always been my passion, but I really loved studying psychology in school. Thankfully, my first job as a writer allowed me to do what came naturally and also opened the doors to marketing. Of course, throughout the years, I gained new skills and responsibilities to get where I am today in the corporate office. It hasn’t been an easy ride. There were lots of challenges and struggles. Haha, and there have been many difficult-to-deal-with people. In the end, those obstacles teach you lessons, and you learn to become more resilient and creative.

      So please don’t lose faith in yourself or the education you worked so hard to get. It’s NOT useless! There’s something out there for you, but you may have to broaden your choices a bit before you can narrow down the position you really want later. Getting your foot in the door is the first important step.

      What kinds of jobs have you been searching for? And have you considered continuing your education in psychology and going for your masters or PhD? If you really want to stick to psychology for a profession, I think you should continue with your education. If not, dive straight into a job. (I wanted to get out of school and start working as soon as possible.)

      You may also want to keep tweaking your resume. Tailor it to each job you apply for, and keep building up your skills on the side so you can add new things to your resume. Every little bit helps.

      I know that you’ll find something! *Hug*


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