Throughout 4 years and countless changes to my IDS contract, I’ve settled in my most comfortable place yet. From a Spanish translator for sociological purposes, to a journalist for sociological purposes, to a psychological interpreter of sociological behaviors through writing… it’s been quite the ride. The information across various disciplines that I’ve had the absolute pleasure to absorb has been truly immense. The difficult part about my interests is they are seldom singularly faceted, I delve into topics to find their roots. Maybe it’s my passion for cold hard facts, as they’re quite difficult to argue against. I knew my compassion for people and my desire to search for the building blocks that constructed a person’s behaviors/actions would soon present itself as a profession for me. I began by trying to tell people’s stories through the Spanish language, and that was a bust. Then, I tried telling people’s stories through journalism, but the journalism class I took was an undisclosed “broadcast” journalism class, and let me tell you broadcast journalism was even a bigger bust than translating Spanish. So, I switched my major all up, away from looking for a set career, and more toward studying freely for my personal interests. I might not have a job lined up after college but the passion for learning that I regained this year studying psychology, communication, sociology, and cultural studies was invaluable! I know someday this life will lead me into a career that I love, but knowing myself, a 40 year long career in the same profession right out of college is completely uncanny. I’m a Cancer having been born in late July, and Cancer on the zodiac is a water sign. I can attest this rings true with my constant mental movement and continuously fluctuating desires.
My major, titled Intercultural Advocacy , can assess a number of professions in psychology, sociology, social work and cultural studies. I’m fascinated in understanding why a person behaves the way they do. Both my parents seem like they are sworn to secrecy about their childhoods, and I know that there is probably a considerable amount of trauma residing there. Childhood trauma I’ve learned, is indicative to many behaviors later in life and even in adulthood, and with this knowledge I gain much compassion for the individual and their situation. But it’s not just trauma I’m interested in exploring, as there are countless other ways you can change the mental physiology of a child. There is so much hate in this world for so many reasons, and hardly enough compassionate people who wish to heal the wounds society has inflicted on them. From a psychological point of view, my major is to understand the mental processes of the individual, and from a sociological point of view, it’s to understand the societal implications that brought them to this moment. What societal implications am I speaking about? Corruption in the government, political climates, social control, parental structures, war, societal norms, deviant behavior and the perception of it, drug culture and religion are just to name a few. These are things that we can’t really control, but have such an immense influence on our physiological makeup in the brain. These physiological changes in the brain are what shape our behavior and thoughts, sometimes for entire lifetimes. This is my innate interest.
For my Applied Project, I was simply lost going into this, and then a girl in class recommended I try out a podcast. I haven’t conducted a podcast yet but thought it sounded like a decent idea, because I could make it anything I wanted! I could mold and form each episode to create a unique learning space, with exclusive perspectives from my student colleagues! I began looking for a rough direction to follow regarding this project, and settled on speaking to foreign exchange students. Both students who have come here from abroad, and American students who sought out education overseas, as well. I have lived and met so many intriguing people abroad from all walks of life and backgrounds, while traveling and studying abroad for the whole ‘17-’18 school year across Europe. I found there are some very acute similarities between people from all over, and some very dark differences between others thought to be one in the same. Those similarities and differences were what I wanted to explore through conversation in my podcast. The reason I chose to work with my college colleagues is because of my Research Article that focuses on university students, which you’ll read about in the next paragraph. For my applied project podcast I met with three students from foreign countries, one from Britain, one from Brazil, and one from Romania, and two students from America who have extensive foreign travel knowledge and experience. Andrei who finished his degree in political science from a university in Iasi, Romania. Vinny, a first year 21 year old who moved here 3 years ago from Brazil, who loves the resources American education provides. Adam from the University of Plymouth in England, who’s passionate about Plymouth State, hates Brexit and wants to continue his college career here. Brooke who’s a senior at Plymouth State, who told me all about the pros and cons about living abroad for a whole year. And finally Jonathan, a French and American dual citizen who’s a member of Model UN, and ardent about foreign affairs and policy. It was so eye-opening to speak with so many about experiences exclusive to them and the country they came from or have visited. The differences foreigners noticed upon arrival here were most surprising to me as they outlined many things we just don’t even think about daily, or take for granted. This connected so much to my program and education in general because it shows just how much you can learn by opening up free dialog in conversation. When there is little to adhere to, spacious mental thought is readily available providing a better platform for the truth to land on. This was my goal with my A.P., to gain knowledge and information from individuals both similar and entirely different from me. To hear them explain their stories, interests, dislikes and ideas from their certain perspectives was incredibly enlightening for my educational experience.
My research article was about how American society influences the anxiety and depression levels of college students today. I was able to delve into a sea of information all supporting how American college kids are stressed and depressed due to their environment. Whether it be the environment they grew up in, or were shot into after college, there is a considerable amount of research about how parts of our society create more susceptible individuals to these disorders. Things like consumerist culture, workaholic parents, helicopter parenting, and the stigma around mental health issues in this country are all external building blocks that provide insight into why American college kids are stressed out to no end. Some internal factors attributing to the anxiety and depression college students experience are: incessant social media distractions, new environments and stimuli, excessive drinking of alcohol or caffeine, colossal costs of college, and landing a good job to pay off their loans after college. These all contribute to influencing the mental health of college students, and with all the chaos explained in my article, it becomes easier to sympathize to my generation. I had to go through the paper several times as I was editing and take out a bunch of “our”’s when talking about my generation because I intend to have written this article for students to read. Students both in this country and abroad can read through my capstone and be able to make a connection with each other. I feel very strongly about this, and throughout my experience as a student both in this country and two others, I was able to make that initial connection that I wanted to explore further. Why is it that this country has such an epidemic of anxiety and depression within the 18-24yr old age range nation wide? Black, white, rich, poor, religious, or heathen?? I believe that in my paper, this question is answered thoroughly and can shed some light on the huge pressures against college kids in this day and age. Although the kids in college today don’t have to be afraid of getting drafted into a war if we leave school (compared to the times during Vietnam), many students are waging a war day in and day out within their heads. Of course, I have a personal connection to this matter as many people I am very friendly with along with myself have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder while in college. I have two and a couple more pending, luckily I’m graduating! 😉
In retrospect, my A.P. and R.A. along with my courses, especially this year, has created such a well rounded intellectual within me, if I do say so myself. Throughout all the sociology and psychology classes I took, I was able to gain my fundamental knowledge about the two fields. After finding a concrete interest in psychology and sociology, I dabbled with some communication classes and was able to learn how people have conversed through the ages and across cultures today. This past semester I took two classes with Robert Heiner which opened my eyes to my interest in epidemiology and reignited my obsession with social problems. I also took a social psychology class, where I finally found the correct terminology to describe my major to people unable to place Intercultural Advocacy. It is social psychology, in every sense of the field. Intercultural Advocacy is the name of my program, but that’s all jazzed up for the appearance. What it means to me, is just getting to know how people behave both by themselves and within a group. How they communicate, show emotion, determine judgement. What are the normalities and abnormalities perceived, and all the other stuff that falls between. My psychology training helps to register where these people have been mentally, that may have affected their brain physiology: trauma, pain, illness, drug use, support or lack there of etc. My sociology schooling helps me to reveal the societal implications that may have brought them to this point: incarceration, welfare, foster homes, family services, nutrition, schooling good or bad etc. My communications knowledge allows me to connect with them on a dyadic level, a person to person conversation rather than a specialist in any one of these fields. I wouldn’t want to be considered an expert in any one of the disciplines I’ve studied, although so many are extremely vast with such enriching knowledge. I know now, it’s not for me. I believe because people are so multifaceted, from so many different backgrounds and cultures, the best way to help is to try to better understand the full picture. I feel with all my knowledge now and passion to continue searching for more answers and more questions to explore, my opportunities are truly limitless in this world. I have no doubts I will be able to work within one of my fields one day, but for now I will be traveling and letting the world present itself to me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in college is: If you hold it too tight, you will break it, and if you try to catch it, you will lose it. This applies to absolutely everything.
People hardly ever fit into the box society builds for them. Thankfully, because of Interdisciplinary Studies, I didn’t have a college career that existed in a single box either.