From the experience of an IMU Alumni – Darvin A/L Anandaraj
In The Words Of An Alumni
People always fascinated me. Even as a teenager, I was a keen observer of the different personalities, interactions, behaviours and expressions people displayed. I always wondered what made us all so different as individuals yet brought us together in a collective dance to the symphony that we call life. Maybe you have as well. Having conversations that privileged me with an insight into a person’s life and the experiences they encounter never failed to entertain me. The way they articulated their thoughts, described their emotions and explained their views and opinions blew my curiosity out of the water. I was always eager to improve my ability to understand, communicate and interact with them, but I lacked the know-how. Somewhere along the way, I chanced upon the word “psychology”, realizing it represented exactly what I was so driven to learn about every day. By then, it was clear to me that psychology was my passion as I embarked on my higher education journey at IMU. After completing the Foundation in Science programme in 2015, I eventually found myself opting for Psychology as the undergraduate degree of my choice.
Being A Psychology Student
“Oh, you’re a Psychology student. Can you read my mind? What am I thinking of now?” If I received RM 1 every time I was confronted with these questions throughout the 3 years of studying the programme, I’m absolutely convinced I would have amassed enough to pay off all 3 years’ worth of my semester fees AND my classmates’ semester fees in the blink of an eye. No, studying Psychology didn’t magically bless me with telepathic powers, but it did introduce me to a plethora of knowledge about human behaviour. You’d be surprised at how much one can learn about the complexity of humans and the various methods, theories and concepts that help ascertain the way we are and why we are so.
I was genuinely amazed by how human behaviour could be defined, explained, specified, generalized, theorized and demonstrated in the multitude of ways that were widely covered every semester. Ranging from modules such as personality, health psychology and cognitive psychology to abnormal psychology, counselling and statistics, the academic syllabus explored a variety of aspects of human behaviour, equipping me with a stable theoretical foundation. I learned many fancy terms like “cognitive dissonance”, “psychoanalysis”, “sample size”, “existentialism” and “transtheoretical model of behaviour change”. This facilitated my ability to apply the knowledge I attained in practical avenues and reap the benefits along the way. One such benefit was how much better I was able to understand myself. In lectures and tutorial sessions, I was able to consider what I subjectively understood of the topic, how I could relate it to my daily experiences, my biases and judgments associated with it and how it influences my perceptions of other people. I gained greater self-awareness and critical thinking skills, in no small part due to the exemplary teaching and mentorship of my lecturers, coupled with countless discussions with my classmates about our study material.
Outside The Classroom
Academics aside, extra-curricular activities were also of major interest to me. I think you’d agree that endeavours outside of the classroom are ideal for fostering stronger relationships with peers while trying to excel in other areas of competency, namely soft skills. I had numerous interests just like everyone else, but I was most enthusiastic about psychology-themed activities and looked for an outlet that allowed me to apply my psychological knowledge. The opportunity came in the shape of IMU Psychology Club. I learned that my lecturers were looking to start a club made up of psychology students dedicated to raising awareness about the field of psychology among the IMU community. I volunteered to be a part of the founding committee members as secretary. Taking on the responsibilities of a club committee member was challenging for us as a lot of effort went into organizing events, but successfully transferring our theoretical knowledge into large scale educational settings to reach out to the public was thrilling and rewarding. The hard work of the committee paid off as we won the Best Social Club award handed out by the Student Representative Council at the end of our inaugural year. Personally, I was proud to have served on the organizing committee of 7 out of the 10 club events held that year. Involving myself in these events reminded me of what we all know well: leadership, communication and rapport building are skills that can be cultivated with experience and determination to improve.
The people significant to me at IMU, namely my lecturers, classmates, club committee members and friends, enriched my academic and extra-curricular experiences. I had come quite far from who I was when I started the course 3 years ago as and I owe it not just to what I learned from my notes but also to my encounters with the aforementioned people. They offered me companionship and advice, helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses in my various undertakings, gave me some incredibly fulfilling moments of joy and delight and really opened my eyes to what it meant to be a student of psychology, formally and informally. From studying psychology, my inclination for understanding the people around me went beyond just that. It helped me perceive life through the people around me.
Looking forward to the future, I’m excited to put the skills and abilities I obtained from my degree into real life as I start a career in the field of psychology. “Entering the real world”, as your lecturers and my love to call it when talking about what lies beyond graduation. Understanding others with psychology is a talent in itself, but helping others with psychology will take me a step further in contributing to the betterment of people and society in line with my passion.
Written by Darvin A/L Anandaraja