By Eli Hooper
As a person, I feel I have a pretty unique experience of first year psychology so, to begin with, let me introduce myself. Hi, my name is Eli. This is actually my second year studying at the university as I also completed a psychology foundation year which, given the circumstances of the past few years, presented its own set of advantages and challenges. I am also from a low-income background, pansexual, non-binary, and I have ADHD as well as a plethora of mental health issues. These things all affect me not only as a person, but also as a student, yet none of them have hindered my ability to reach the position I am in today.
Going into first year was a challenge. I had never even approached the idea of revision before, and I suddenly found myself in a position where I needed to gain that skill quickly in order to just keep up. I felt overwhelmed, lost, and fell into a real state of panic. Honestly, I was a mess. But in time, as I adjusted to university, and it to me, I began to find myself as a student. Understanding what worked for me and adapting to this new way of life took real time and effort that I wasn’t used to, but eventually the picture came together.
One of my main concerns when looking at the syllabus was coding: “What!? I thought psychology was just reading research articles and learning about disorders, what is this doing here?” is how I imagine that thought spiral started. But with practice and careful assistance from Dr Evans, (Psychology lecturer and R extraordinaire) I began to find myself making light work of what initially seemed to me like a foreign language.
Don’t get me wrong, university isn’t easy and isn’t a decision to be made lightly. You are plunged into a new style of learning, with less support from lecturers as well as leaving behind your previously established support network (given you are studying away from home). However, you are given the opportunity for a new level of independence, self-discovery and to build new relationships (usually found in the most random of situations) without being fully exposed to the wider world just yet.
Overall, university can be a lot maybe even too much at times, but once you find your rhythm, it really can be enlightening. It is incredibly liberating to learn about the thing that you love alongside people that get it whilst being taught by people that really get it. All of this with the knowledge you are supported by a team of people that only want you to do well really helps to make this experience one worth taking. It wasn’t easy getting to this point but given the opportunity, I would choose it all over again. Psychology at the University of Sussex really is an experience like no other.
Eli Hooper is currently studying BSc Psychology with Clinical Approaches at the University of Sussex.