Reflection: Psychology Summer Project

My regular blogging schedule is being interrupted to bring you a spontaneous post. It’s a long, long, long text post, so please bear with me.
If you are a somewhat regular reader, then you may have read what little mentions I gave of my school psychology project. I wrote about how this project was new and daunting to me. It involved researching a question that we students selected out of six, and referencing our research material as we wrote a 1000-1200 word essay outlining our argument. Plus we had to give a 5 minute presentation to our classes without any aid besides 6 words on an A6 piece of paper.

I really hate writing essays, particularly presenting arguments, and I really, really dislike presentations. So this was going to be challenging.

There were other incentives besides a good UCAS (university application) reference and more to write about in my personal statement – prizes. Prizes for the best essay and runner-up across the year group, then for the best presentations in each class. The prizes weren’t specified, so we assumed that it was chocolate – nothing big.

My presentation took place a week before the essay deadline. Taking into account previous speaking experiences, I wrote and revised what to say several times without a spoken run-through… not until the lunchtime before the presentation lesson! It did go better than expected, but I recall pausing for a good 10-15 seconds before remembering that I had a prompt card.

Over the course of the project I had a general essay draft – very short – in progress, as well as my references jotted down precisely on paper, ready just in case I needed them since I couldn’t bring school textbooks home. This ended up being a good idea as I attempted to stay up all night completing the essay the night before the deadline. I say ‘attempted’ because I did take a short 2 hour nap, the panic of the deadline being the only thing to wake me again.

Not wanting to disturb the family with my old, loud computer, I tried to move onto the ipad so I could work on my bed, but it wouldn’t let me log in to access my work and I may have had a bit of a breakdown at half past midnight, alone if not for my snoring little sister. Eventually I took out her laptop instead, swanky and new and most importantly, quiet (and login-able.)

All of a sudden it was 7am and I had gotton 900/1200 words done. Progress, but not quite enough. I did manage to get the rest done during a free period, and was constantly editing during lunch. Even after printing – put in jeopardy by my lack of printing credits – I gave it a last few read-throughs and corrected in biro. But once it was handed in, it was done and I could breathe again.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, this being the last day of the summer term, it was also the day that the project prizewinners were announced! Multiple people didn’t come in due to Eid celebrations (Eid Mubarak!) and school trips, but what was left of the psychology students gathered to find out who the prizes were going to.

Let me just say first – I did not turn up hoping for first place in anything. I clapped for my friends (shoutout to my Psych class for getting 3/5 of the available prizes! Even though we’re the smallest class!) and was just as excited as everyone else even when, deep in our hearts, we knew who the winners might be as they very well deserved their prizes.

So when they called out my name for ‘best essay’ it didn’t sink in. I just kept smiling for whoever won. When I realised that they meant me (nobody else is nicknamed Swan, for goodness’ sake) my jaw may well have dropped to the floor for all I know. I was frozen to the spot. Like, no way. They had to remind me to go up and get the prize.

I got a winning score of 27/30 on the essay. I spent those last days before the deadline doubting that I was even writing the right kind of thing and HEY, I WON SOMETHING.
I, who never wins anything, not even an egg an spoon race, won a thing. That was an achievement in itself. I am not kidding when I say I think I am going to cry (and I have been pretty close to doing so all day), because all in all this has been a not-great year in terms of school life. This is going to sound over-dramatic, but my eyes have been opened a bit, I have more hope for the future and more self-confidence, and I have reinforced my love of this subject and my determination for continuing it.

As a final note, the Psychology department definitely know how to do prizes. I received this brilliant colouring textbook about the human brain (below) and a book token that was worth… a lot. I screamed when I saw the receipt that they put in the envelope with it. I expected £5’s worth. I got much more than that. If it were socially acceptable to hug the life out of teachers, I totally would. A huge, huge, thank you to my Psychology teachers is in order, especially as their budget is small as is (we’ve gone through the year on A5 printouts so anything in A4, colour or card was a shock).

The Human Brain Colouring Book by M.C Diamond, AB Scheibel and LM and Elson. It seems to cover the basics all the way up to graduate-level knowledge!

Also, an extra thank you to those teachers for not leaving! This year, at least one of my teachers in each subject are leaving which makes me extra grateful for the Psych teachers that aren’t, because they are absolutely fabulous.

I think this post is a good essay length now (wink), so I should stop.
Breathe again, and hydrate!


P.S. Thanks to you, dear reader, for reading all 1000+ words of this!

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