Studying Psychology Is Much Harder Than You'd Think

Studying Psychology Is Much Harder Than You'd Think

But it's worth it to me.
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The psychology program at my college requires that we take core classes in different areas of the field: Developmental and abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. Theoretically, this gives us a decent background in all disciplines before we move on to graduate school or whatever unrelated job we take on. This summer I decided to take my third required class, in cross-cultural psychology, and I didn’t know what I was getting into. Professors often post their syllabi, or at least their basic outline for the class, ahead of time, but this particular professor didn’t. I walked in on my first day with no idea of what it was going to be like.

My professor began the class by pointing out that most clinicians will go on to see patients without ever taking a class in cross-cultural psychology, and he decided to devote the action-packed summer quarter to explaining to us why that’s a problem. Basically, the gist is this: When you have a therapist and a client from different cultural backgrounds, particularly if the therapist is from a more dominant cultural group than the client, the therapeutic relationship is impaired. And in research, which lately has become the guiding influence in the practice of psychology, cultural unawareness can produce evidence-based practice that only has an evidence basis for a small portion of the population.

All this is true and right and good, and it seems self-explanatory when you hear about it in a classroom setting. But when you’re confronted with the fact that, as a well-meaning person from a dominant cultural group, you might be uniquely unsuited to guide people from certain groups through the therapeutic process, it gets a bit harder to process. I see myself as a basically good person. I try to go out of my way to do the right thing, even if I feel like an idiot in the process. And to hear that even my best intentions can harm someone I want to help is a hard thing.

This class and this particular professor has had me on the defensive since day one, because I feel like at the same time as I’m being asked to fix my own biases towards other cultural groups, I’m being forced to accept biases about my own identities. I feel like I can’t become a good and compassionate clinician unless I let go of parts of my own identity, that I can’t use my own experiences to inform my interactions with future clients.

It hasn’t made me question my desire to be a clinical psychologist. It hasn’t made me think that I wouldn’t be good at it. But it has made me think that I need to use the next few years of my life to become stronger in my own identities, to not feel threatened every time someone fails to acknowledge my own culture and history. I’m a senior in college, and even if I went straight to graduate school to become a certified mental health counselor, I still have another two years before I’ll be seeing patients.

Cultural psychology hasn’t changed my worldview that drastically. But it has showed me what I need to do in order to succeed in my chosen career. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, and it doesn’t always leave me feeling warm and fuzzy – and that’s OK. Change isn’t supposed to be easy.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Adulthood Is Approaching And It Will Be The Weirdest Thing You've Ever Known

Becoming an adult is the most surreal thing I have ever experienced.

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Imagine it's Tuesday. There is nothing special about this Tuesday. You wake up, do your morning routine, go to work, attend class, eat lunch, and suddenly you are on your way to lease a house with three of your closest friends. Caution: adulthood approaching, and apparently at an exponential speed.

It is one of those things you don't even realize is coming until it hits you like a brick wall. Talking to the realtor made me wish my father was with me. I had no clue what questions to ask, whether to ask for a lower rent or even what to bring to sign a lease. Moreover, does it really make a difference whether the washing machine and dryer are upstairs or in the slightly creepy cement basement that looks like it came straight out of "Extracts from Gosschen's Diary"?

The pressure of relying on someone else (in my case, my three closest friends) is terrifying. I can barely trust myself not to trip on nothing, and now I am sharing the responsibility of an entire house with people. Who will be in charge of washing the dishes? Vacuuming (a task my dog hates as vehemently as I do)? Making sure everyone chips in for the utility bill?

These are all things I have never had to worry about before. I knew what I was supposed to do and did it. Now I find myself wondering how taxes actually work and how many hours I will have to work to be able to pay for my house. School does not always prepare you to face the real world. The quadratic formula in no way helped me figure out what a W-2 was or how to fill it out.

Adulthood is scary and approaching faster than I would like to admit, and I easily ignore it by dancing on the weekends and studying hard on the weekdays. But the concept glares in the back of my mind like an annoying tapping noise. It becomes clear that I am at college to prepare for a future career and to enter a world in which leases, money, and taxes will fill my thoughts.

So to all my young people out there: adulthood is approaching, and it will come faster than you think. Go out, have fun, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Make friends and love every minute of it; later you may find yourself leasing a house with them. I am thrilled to start my journey into adulthood with the best people in the world at my side, yet the concept of such responsibility is daunting.

Cheers to the last of my teenage months, to leasing a house, to my friends, to my family, and to the taxes I will eventually learn how to do.

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