I can’t believe that I’m writing my second blog entry already! Where did the time go? There is only one week of classes left! I hope you have been enjoying reading these blogs – I’ve enjoyed reading and writing them. These blogs are designed to give prospective and current Memorial students a helpful look into what graduate school is like from a first-hand account. Even as one of the bloggers, I find that reading stories from the other five bloggers to be helpful for my own graduate school transition. For example, I could relate to Natasha’s first blog entry and her reference to the “imposter syndrome” that grad students sometimes feel. I would also encourage you to talk to other graduate students at Memorial to hear their perspective. Like I hinted at before in my previous blog post, talking to other MUN alumni or current graduate students really helped me arrive to the decision that MUN was a great choice.

This semester has had a number of academic and personal challenges for me. Classes have been both interesting and difficult, but I have enjoyed the learning process so far. Everything is coming to a close for this semester, which in my case means that my papers and presentations are all due around the same time, and I have a constant feeling that I’m not quite on top of things. Perhaps this is just simply the perpetual problem that all students experience during post-secondary training. I must admit, I am looking forward to this semester finishing and being able to start fresh again in January. Quite frankly, this eagerness of a fresh start is largely due to a recent personal circumstance. Earlier this semester, I endured a life experience that I had always expected to be many years in the future; my mother suddenly and quickly became ill, and passed away. Mid way through an exciting and fast-paced semester, I felt blindsided and all of the important school stuff quickly became unimportant. As a result, I was away from school for a period of time and dreaded returning – my fear was that I could not catch up in my studies, and I would not perform at my best ability. Indeed, it has felt like an uphill battle since returning and trying to get back into the swing of things, and although I still have these concerns, the support from those around me (i.e., classmates, lab members, supervisors, professors) has been very helpful and gracious. Truly, the people around me feel like a breath of fresh air and are great examples of the types of people commonly found at Memorial. Regardless of whether you endure a similar experience to mine, or have concerns about anything related to your studies, don’t be afraid to be open with the people around you about any apprehensions you may have; both personal and academic. The atmosphere that I’ve experienced at MUN is that everyone truly wants each other to succeed and do well. In my case, the people around me are willing to help out however they can in order to help set me up for achievement. Even something as simple as giving feedback to an idea in order to make it better, or editing a draft for an upcoming blog entry (thanks Zak and Kirk!); the support networks are there around you and you should take advantage of them.

If you remember one tip from this blog, let it be this: Don’t suffer in silence, and seek out the support you need; it will be there.

So true to my promise given in my previous blog entry, let me share a bit about how I came to find out about the Psychology and Law (PAL) lab. At my previous undergraduate university, I had the opportunity to do my regular 4-year honours degree while also completing special curriculum related to Forensic Psychology through additional forensic-related courses and hands-on practicum placements. I knew during my undergrad that I wanted to eventually pursue graduate level studies, and my experiences in this focus-specific program really ignited my passion for the subject area. Thus, I was eager to find a graduate program that could build off of my learning experience, and match my research and career aspirations. When reviewing multiple post-secondary schools it was clear to see that many universities had exceptional graduate programs, expert faculty advisors, and research-focused laboratories (all elements that a grad-student-wannabe should be looking for in any program), but the PAL lab at MUN particularly stood out to me. I was intrigued with the amount of research publications being produced through the lab, but noticed that many publications had students as the first author (another hands-on opportunity). After talking with two members (i.e., the principal investigator and another graduate student) of the PAL lab, I really got the sense that this team worked like a group of colleagues and wanted to give students every learning opportunity the lab could offer. Based on my prior learning experiences and future plans, and hearing about what this lab could offer me for education opportunity, I was certain that MUN was going to be a great fit. Even though I’ve only been here for a semester, an opportunity has already risen where I can contribute to a research project! I’m looking forward to this and many other opportunities that will surely come up during my time here.

Beyond the school setting, I feel like St. John’s is becoming my city and I’m very happy to live here. I’ve discovered some cool hiking trails and found some amazing ocean views (the picture is near MUN’s Ocean Science Centre), but I have only scratched the surface of what St. John’s has to offer. I look forward to finding more gems in the city.

Well, I should wrap this entry up and get back to my studies. Oh wait! I also promised last time to speak a bit about my travel experience between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, but given the amount I’ve written already, let me just give one piece of travel advice: When you decide to take a 16 hour night-crossing from North Sydney, NS to Argentia, NL, make sure you book a cabin berth. Regrettably, I did the opposite and just sat in a chair. Without a doubt, this proved to be one of the worst sleeps of my life and made the last lag of the journey quite uncomfortable. Gratefully, I had a person meeting me at my new home and had some assistance with unloading my stuff, so it wasn’t all bad. Needless to say, after that travel experience, I was very happy to arrive in my own bed that night.

Best of luck on your exams and have a great break! I’ll blog again in early January and will tell you about the new classes that I’ll be taking. Until next time…