Monday, July 11, 2016

Exploring and Learning: My Past Two Days

I am coming to you live (sort of) from the computer lab in Halperin House because the "C" on the keyboard of the computer in my house is out and I can't log in. But don't worry, I will have a different laptop to use soon and will be able to post much more easily as usual! While having these issues with technology have been quite the experience, I'll spare you the gory details. There is so much to catch you up on from the past two days!

From left to right behind me: TianXiao, Rithika, Emily,
Valentina, and Anjali. Exploring is more fun with friends!
Yesterday was my second day on campus, and other than a brief meeting with our RA's to explain transportation options around Chicago and the set in stone hours of the dining hall, we were pretty much entirely free. It was a very strange and exhilarating feeling, since this is more freedom than I have had at almost any other point in my life. I am used to having parents to take me places and tell me to do things, and waking up yesterday morning to the realization that the rest of the day was entirely my adventure and my responsibility gave me a tiny taste of what it might actually be like when I am off on my own at college.

The organ and stained
glass in Rockefeller Chapel
After breakfast I got together with a group of friends and walked around campus. We visited many of the signature cites on campus, like the Regenstein Library and Rockefeller chapel, as well as the Co-Op Seminary Bookstore recommended by an incredible former teacher of mine, Mr.Wolf-Root. On the way we also passed by Beecher Hall, where my class will be held over the next few weeks. It was a lot of walking (which I have heard is one of the biggest adjustments that many students make once they get to college) but well worth it for a closer look at the exquisite campus.
The  Regenstein Library Bubble

As the day came to a close, it finally hit me that my class would be starting the next day! Of course I was a little nervous, but I was mostly just excited to get started working with such a fascinating subject. I was not at all disappointed when I walked into the classroom today. Everyone in the class is so friendly and so intelligent, and we all seemed to function as a team right away. There were twenty people in the class, and every single one of us got there about a half hour early. Before the professor even arrived, we had all introduced ourselves in a giant circle and fallen into little pockets of conversation. The professor, Mrs. O'Doherty (to be called Kate by us in the summer session) was quite surprised given that typical college students trickle into the classroom right on the minute if not slightly after.

The walk to from Beecher Hall to the dorm
As an introduction to developmental psychology, Kate talked about the reasons to study developmental psychology, what she hoped for us to get out of the class, as well as the basic structure and expectations of the class. After that, we jumped right in to a short discussion of nature and nurture and the complexity of bidirectional influence between these factors. It was a good balance between lecture using powerpoint and discussion, and I appreciated how modern and holistic the approach was.

We also talked about proper techniques for research, such as ethics and  data management, which I found to be quite fascinating. Knowing how to conduct legitimate and ethical research is a skill I look forward to developing in this class, since it will be so valuable in almost any field. We are already considering topics for a final research project, and have broken into semi-official groups.

We ended the class with the introduction of two short and deeply fascinating articles about the fact that many studies that are described as applicable to the human race as a whole actually only reflect the reality of Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic (WEIRD) people. According to the articles these people make up 96% of psychological test subjects, but only represent 12% of the world's population. Basing our understanding of the entire human experience on only a small portion of the population, and largely ignoring exceptions, can have huge consequences for research and understanding. I felt like my eyes had been opened to reality, and immediately knew that this was the kind of information I hope to spend the rest of my life opening my eyes to, in school or otherwise. Realizations like this will change the way I consider the things I am told and broaden my awareness of the world, and this is the truly amazing part of college.

I was really impressed by the diversity of perspective and quality of discussion in my class. There are many international students in the class, as well as people from all different situations and walks of life. In talking about our own experiences with development and psychology there was a huge range of stories and insights. It was a pleasure to participate, and I can't wait to go back tomorrow!


  1. Great blog. I am so glad you understand what the point of a college education is. I could not have said better myself: "...this is the truly amazing part of college.".
    So glad to hear you are experiencing working with peers. Joyful experience! Hugs and kisses, Nanna and Hejhej

    1. William - This is a truly amazing piece of blog work: about that you are absolutely right; just the other day I was eating a ham sandwich (with extra zucchini, of course) and as I bit down I couldn't help but think of Alice's experiences at UChicago.

      Best wishes,
      Mr. Leonard

  2. Does it count to use "so glad" twice in one comment? Lol. Hugs and kisses😉😘

  3. Great blog, Alice. I’m especially impressed with your resourcefulness in bypassing your own laptop issues and the keyboard issues at your ‘house’.

    By this time tomorrow your replacement laptop should be in your hands which should make things easier.

    One thing we hear very often when our ILCers get into their class is the different tone of the class. They’re not used to being with fellow students who WANT to be there as opposed to back home where the class os often filled with students who HAVE to be there. It makes a huge difference on your ability to learn, doesn’t it?