An Introvert’s Guide to College

A big change has come my way! After contemplating on the matter for the past few months, I’ve decided to add

Brains are pretty cool!

Brains are pretty cool!

Experimental Psychology as a second major. I am very excited about this decision! I’ve wanted to double major for quite some time but it’s been a struggle to decide on a second subject! This semester I am taking a class called Child and Adolescent Development as a graduation requirement. At first I wasn’t expecting too much out of this class to interest me. In Advanced Placement biology in high school neurology was always one of my favorite sections. Learning about how our brains and all its parts are structured¬† just fascinated me. I decided early on in high school that becoming a doctor was not for me, so I thought that my interest in the human brain would just be something to learn about in my spare time.

As I got more into Child and Adolescent Development I realized that I wasn’t just interested in how the brain was structured. I loved practically everything that we’ve talked about so far: how and when language is acquired (language, as some of you may know, is a passion of mine!), parenting styles, the research method, and future research possibilities are just a few topics I’ve enjoyed. Perhaps the aspect of psychology that I love to learn about the most is personality. I’ve had the opportunity to take the MBTI (The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) multiple times over the past few years through summer psychology classes I took at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Interestingly enough, even with taking these classes I didn’t know that psychology fascinated me!

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I Won’t Give Up On Me

For this post I wanted to write about something a little personal but that is also a big part of me. According to the National Association of Mental Illness in a 2013 publication, one in four American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness, or

LMU's own namesake is known for struggling with depression.

LMU’s own namesake is known for struggling with depression. It’s good to know that even the greats struggled!

about 61.5 million people. This statistic remains the same within the 18 to 24 age group- the age of most college students. In sharing my experience I hope to encourage others to seek help and to let them know that they are not alone.

For as long as I can remember anxiety has been a huge part of my life. Family and teachers would sometimes say that I worried so much that my hair would turn grey before their own hair did. I really only worried about grades. I loved school and I wanted to be good at it. This didn’t bother me so much because I thought it was just a sign of me being a good student. While that may have been the case, I came to realize when I was older that I could be a good student without having to worry about my hair turning grey.

Anxiety hit me really hard the beginning of freshman year of high school and slowly crept into every aspect of my life for the next four years. Tests had always been so easy for me in elementary and middle school but for some reason I could not get the hang of them in high school. I could go into a test knowing the material front and back but once the test was handed out it was like I had never been in that class before. The days we would get graded exams back were often devastating. Teachers I became particularly close to were key in helping me make it through those four years. They listened to my concerns and let me talk out my problems. I wasn’t looking for answers; I felt like when I talked about it openly it couldn’t hold so much power over me. Even if my teachers could not help otherwise, they were a sound board in which I could talk about the things I was afraid to.

Anxiety was not only an academic hindrance, but also a social one.¬† It wasn’t until high school that I went to parties or even stayed the night over at a friend’s house. Whenever I’d go hang out with friends I would have to promise myself to stay for at least an hour or so before I could allow myself to leave. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hang out with them. It was just that we’d be out somewhere with lots of people and noise and I’d feel overwhelmed. I would want to go off by myself to get away from it all to calm down. I distanced myself from friends and turned down more offers to socialize than I accepted. I closed myself off from everyone and everything and soon became seriously depressed. I was giving up on everything in my life, from friends and grades to my future goals. I was giving up on me.

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Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference

I knew that when I came to college that it would be the perfect time to try new things and become a more well-rounded student, so I was determined to take advantage of this opportunity. I made a promise to myself to do at least one big thing that scares me each semester. This did not have to be anything extreme like going skydiving or trekking through the Amazon, although the latter would be cool! Rather, I needed to do something new that I am either nervous about doing or would normally never consider doing before. I came up with this new rule for myself when I learned about the Blue

Baby sea otters are a soft spot of mine.

Baby sea otters are a soft spot of mine, so it’s natural that they would be part of a plan to make me try new things!

Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference (BRURC) from one of my professors. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I needed and wanted to get experience with research and get my name out there as early as possible. I may only be a freshman, but time runs out very quickly and there’s too much life out there to just passively live.

It was decided. I would start off on a different foot with a project that I affectionately named (Don’t laugh!) OTTERS: One Terrifying Thing Every Remaining Semester. I have a deep love for acronyms and otters, so the two naturally went together! The first step on this journey, I knew, had to be something big. One of my biggest fears is public speaking and, despite absolutely not wanting to voluntarily put myself in a situation in which I would have to do so, I started working on a project that I would present at BRURC.

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The Chamber of Secrets – a.k.a. Your Professor’s Office

CoS

Being able to speak Parseltongue is not a requirement!

As most of you already probably know, I thrive on being in small classes and one-on-one attention from professors is priceless to me. While I am only a freshman, I have already had classes with just three students in them. , including me. Even my “worst case scenarios” involve me being in classes with fifteen or so students, so it never is unbearable for me. However, even with such small classes, a little extra guidance or help with an assignment is almost always needed. Asking a professor in class may not be your forte or asking for help with something after class may not be the most opportune time. After all, LMU is a busy place! Chances are, your professor has something going on after your class or you have something else that is occupying your own time. Using office hours is often the best way to get one-on-one attention from your professors, even though it may feel a little intimidating at first. Entering their offices for the first time may make you feel like you’re Harry Potter first entering the Chamber of Secrets. But instead of finding a basilisk on the other side, you will find, as cliche as it sounds, a ton of resources you may have otherwise not have known about!

When I attended Governor’s School in the summer of 2012 (which you can read about here!), a lot of adjusting had to happen on my part. That was the first time I had ever come across professors. I was fascinated by the fact I called them Dr. “Whatever their last names were” instead of what I called them in my years of education leading up to that point. It was a little intimidating, I’ll admit. These people were serious and I felt like I did not want to waste their time. I soon adjusted to this fact until I found myself wanting a little bit more help in my English class. I wanted to improve my writing, but I had no idea how to ask my professor in such a way that wouldn’t require us to completely stop both of our schedules to formulate an answer. I remembered that both of my professors at UT Martin had given us a list of their office hours and told us to come by if we ever needed anything. I decided to try my English professor’s office hours, so I emailed him, scheduled a specific time for me to come by, and prepared the questions I wanted to ask.

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Honors Preview Day

On February 15th LMU welcomed twenty prospective students and their families to partake in the interview process to gain admission to the Honors Program. This was the second annual Honors Day in which prospective LMU students who qualified interview in hope for admission to the Honors Program. I was part of the first group to participate in Honors Day, so this was the first time I was on the other side of the interview process. It was such a big day for me!

Walking to class sometimes feels like I'm doing this!

Walking to class sometimes feels like I’m doing this!

Check-in began at the Hamilton Math and Science Building at 10:30 a.m., and those of us already in the program who were helping had to be there thirty minutes prior. Merry, my suite-mate who is in the Honors Program with me, and I volunteered to help out together and we were both excited to meet the incoming freshmen! Because of the massive amount of snow that accumulated here in Harrogate that week, and the distance between Mitchell Hall, my dorm, and the Hamilton building, it was necessary for us to leave a little early in order to walk there in time. There’s one perk to living in the mountains in the winter: you quickly learn how to walk on snow and even ice without falling (or without people seeing you!) or slipping too much! Walking to class when it’s snowy and icy surely adds a sense of adventure to my day!

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