My name is Chris Lively and I’m from Truro, Nova Scotia. I’m a new graduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and received this opportunity to blog about my experience as a first year graduate student at MUN. If you’re reading these blogs, maybe you’re thinking about applying to graduate school at MUN and want to know what to expect. Or maybe you’ve already been accepted to one of MUN’s graduate programs – Congratulations! Good choice! Maybe you just want see how the transition is working out for other students, like me and the other graduate student bloggers. Either way, I hope that by reading a bit about my journey and progression through one of MUN’s graduate programs will help those of you thinking about applying here (or those of you accepted and experiencing your own transitions) decide that MUN is a great fit for you. Let me say up front that if you’re curious about some particular aspect of graduate school and want to get more information about any one of MUN’s graduate programs, the School of Graduate Studies has a phenomenal team that will be able to answer any questions (big or small) you may have. I remember when I first contacted the School of Graduate Studies to inquire about applying, and felt like I was treated in a sincere personable fashion rather than being regarded just as ‘some other email’ they had received. Those early interactions stood out to me and helped confirm that I was making the right choice to attend MUN. You can submit an inquiry to the School of Graduate Studies with any questions you have…and tell ‘em Chris sent ya!

First, let me tell you a bit about my area of research and what I’ll be studying while at MUN. I am completing my Master of Science in Experimental Psychology. In particular, my research is in the area of Forensic Psychology. I will be conducting research related to this domain in the Psychology and Law (PAL) Laboratory. Dr. Brent Snook (my supervisor) is the principle investigator of the PAL lab, and collaborates with many leading researchers in the field of forensic psychology. Dr. Snook and other research affiliates (i.e., students and police personnel) of the PAL lab conduct studies related to human behaviour and the criminal justice system. Studies in the lab have investigated a variety of criminal justice topics including, but not limited to: police interviewing techniques, adult and youth comprehension of interrogation rights, and decision-making processes of players (e.g., judges, juries, police officers, offenders, etc.) within the criminal justice system. Between my thesis research (I’ll talk more about that in another blog) and teaching assistant duties, I’m sure I’ll be busy in the PAL lab, but I’m looking forward to the whole process.

On top of my lab responsibilities, I’m enrolled in three classes this semester. So far, they’ve all been going really well. Two of my classes contain plenty of readings, but that shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone thinking about, or enrolled in, graduate school. Although there is a lot of reading material, the beauty of graduate school is that you are studying a discipline that really interests you. Each class meets only once per week, which sounds like I’m left with a lot of free time, but I can already tell that I’ll need to use that “free” time to sit down and focus on the readings associated with my classes. As the saying goes, the key to success in whatever you do will be to find that proper amount of work-life balance – although I’m sure that’s easier said than done!

I’ve been pretty much bound to the Science Building on campus since this is where my lab and all of my classes are held. The campus itself is quite large, but I recently learned that if I ever needed to get to a particular spot anywhere on campus (well, almost anywhere) that I have two options of how I can walk to my destination: Go outside, or go underground into the Tunnels. What?! MUN has these underground tunnels, also known as “MUNnels”, that connect most of the campus together. So when the weather turns a bit sour, which I hear that it can be bad at times, getting around campus won’t be so difficult. Maybe it’s because I’m new, but when I found out about the MUNnels, I thought it was pretty cool. Of course, I must confess that I’ve been in the them and have gotten lost on multiple occasions. I’m sure I’ll eventually figure out the MUNnels system.

So why choose MUN? Well, if having underground tunnels isn’t a good enough reason, let me tell you some of the factors that influenced me. I mentioned that the interactions with the School of Graduate Studies at MUN stood out to me, but I also had many previous MUN students tell me about how great their own experience at MUN, and living in St. John’s in general, was for them. Additionally, the early communication with my supervisor and another co-student really made me feel welcomed and part of the team even before I actually was accepted to MUN and part of the lab team! In my case, I was looking for a research program and having the chance to work in a lab that researched topics specific to my interests really helped seal the deal (who wants to study something they’re not interested in for 2 – 6 years?). Of course, the bonus fact that MUN has relatively low tuition was quite an appeal as well. There are plenty of reasons as to why MUN is a great choice for graduate school, and I’m only speaking on my experience. But my story and reasons are just one to consider. Be sure to check out the other graduate student bloggers’ stories to hear about their reasons for coming to MUN too.

I’ll be back blogging again in a few weeks and tell you about how I came to find out about the PAL lab and program, and what the physical travel was like from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. In fact by the time I blog again, I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to report on about my classes, research, and overall transition. Until next time…