The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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A Day in the Life of a Psychology Major

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Illustration of a brain

I thought it would be fun and informative to start a blog series where I interview and ask students across the UMass campus all about their majors. In my first post I will be covering the story behind Karly, 21, a senior psychology major on a neuroscience track with a minor in biology.

Freshman year, Karly and I lived on the same floor in Central Residential Area's Gorman Hall. We bonded over our nightly trips to Franklin Dining Commons and laughed about our days on campus. We have remained friends ever since and are now housemates. Get to know more about Karly and her major below!

Q: Think back to three and a half years ago. What made you realize UMass was the school for you?
A: It wasn’t actually my first choice, but I knew they had one of the best psychology programs around. After I started going here I fell in love with the school and the psychology program.

Q: Do you have an all-time favorite course? Why?
A: Yes! Behavioral Neuroscience (Psych330) because it’s all about the brain! And Abnormal Psychology (Psych380) because it’s all about mental illness. Both classes focus on subjects that I’m really interested in.

Q: What have you learned about yourself since being in college?
A: Tests aren’t always my strong suit. My courses have taught me what areas of study I like more than others. I learned I want to be a neuropsychologist through the classes I have taken.

Q: Were you still able to travel abroad with a psychology major and biology minor? If so where did you go?
A: Yes! I went to Scotland for the 2018 spring semester. While there I traveled to England, Wales, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, France, Poland, Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, and Greece. Once in Europe, it's fairly cheap to travel!

Q: Did you take any courses related to your field of study while abroad?
A: I took a neuroscience class there which was interesting, but really hard. My whole grade was based on one exam! I learned a new topic every class. A lot of it was very fast-paced. For students going abroad, I would suggest taking easier classes because you’ll want to travel.

Q: Have you had any work or internship experiences? What did you learn from them?
A: With a neuroscience track, you need to have research credit. The research I do is for the neurocognition and sensation lab on campus. I do a lot of data collection using EEG, working on Excel sheets, and editing sounds. For the past two summers I have been working with people who have mental illnesses, and I find it really rewarding. You learn a lot in the field compared to what you would learn sitting in a classroom.

Q: What's the meaning behind your laptop case? (pictured above!)  
A: It's supposed to mean the left side of the brain is all logic, and the right side is all creativity. However, this isn’t completely true. Creativity and logic can both be found around all parts of the brain, sensorywise. I’m definitely more of a creative!
Q: Do you have any advice for incoming or current students who are interested in joining the psychology major? 
A: Do it because you like it! Don’t do it because you think it’s easy. I have honestly had some of the hardest classes in my time here. You have to be passionate about psychology in order to succeed in the major.
Q: What's the next step for you once you graduate? 
A: Hopefully go to grad school! I want to do fieldwork while still doing lots of research!

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