School of Human and Social Sciences

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Patrick's Valencian dream during Erasmus+

Patrick in ValenciaPatrick, a third year psychology student here at UWL, was thrilled to spend a semester in Valencia as part of the Erasmus+ programme and describes it as a 'life changing experience'.

Read his story below:

How did you come to take part in Erasmus+?

I'd met a few people who had been on the Erasmus programme in the past and they all said it had changed their lives. So, once we'd had a talk from the University Erasmus+ Coordinator, I knew that I wanted to take part.

Tell us about your time in Valencia

The University of Valencia has over 55,000 registered students. The city itself is a very beautiful city with throngs of tourists and students. It's known as one of the best Erasmus cities, and for good reason -  the beautiful food, the beautiful people, the beautiful weather, and a world class education system.

The learning experience was certainly worth it. It was quite a busy schedule, as I was studying six modules rather than the usual three.

However, I enjoyed all the modules, I learnt a lot and it was a different way of learning, in a more relaxed manner.  

I chose them to be taught in English, however, the University offered many opportunities to learn the Valencian culture and language.

A highlight of mine was when I attended a talk called 'Language and Reality. Science in Everyday Life’ by John McWhirter the creator of Developmental Behavioural Modelling (DBM). This was a fascinating look at how we communicate. My interactions with people since then have completely changed - I now appreciate communication.  

Alongside the studying, there was still enough time to walk along the prominade at Malvarosa beach, visit the City of Arts, Valencia Cathedral and the Market Centrale. I was taken (mostly by my now adopted family), across Valencia, tasted the food, drank some wine and was introduced to wonderful people. I was certainly was taking in the culture.

Patrick at a festival in Valencia

All in all, I am glad, grateful and will forever cherish the time I spent in Valencia on Erasmus+.

I have made lifelong personal and professional connections from other countries. One brave move opened up countless experiences.

I gained a new family in Valencia through my host family and I discovered new passions within the field of psychology.

How has Erasmus+ helped with your studies and future career?

It has opened my mind to a host of opportunities and experiences.  I learnt new ways to study, gained presentation skills and now understand the importance of collaborating on a project. Some of which I have incorporated into my daily working life. 

I've made professional connections and I'm confident that I can work anywhere across Europe should I desire.

What will you do when you graduate?

At first, I wanted to do clinical psychology, but since Erasmus+ I'm now torn between organisational, social and community psychology. It's not a bad thing, it just shows that my mind is now open to more opportunities.

The University of Valencia building

Patrick in Valencia

Jenise Davidson

Jenise DavidsonPsychology graduate Jenise Davidson joined UWL as a student on our BSc (Hons) Psychology with Foundation Year course. This is a course for students who do not quite have enough UCAS points to go straight onto a BSc (Hons) Psychology course. The extra year of study can really make a big difference as Jenise experienced. 'I started out on the foundation year course in 2010, UWL gave me a chance and I ended up graduating with a first class degree.' As this shows and as Jenise says herself  'Anything is possible'.

Since leaving UWL, Jenise has been on a hectic journey. She has just begun a new research assistant role, working as a neuropsychiatric assessor in a clinical trial for a new drug for dementia patients at Kings College London University. With this experience, Jenise is aiming to get into Clinical Psychology and so is focusing on 'working, gaining experience and really just enjoying myself as this is an exciting time for me.'

Can you recall how you came to choose to study at UWL?

I didn't get the best A-level grades. During the end of college, I went through some turbulent things in my personal life. As a result my education suffered pretty badly. So there I was on results day with no university place and I honestly thought that my life was over. Higher education was plan A - I didn't have a plan B. I was stuck with limited options, so I gave one university a call during clearing and when they heard my grades I received a swift no. How devastating - I think I felt worse than I did on results day. Eventually I received an email from UCAS about UWL who were enrolling through clearing. I spoke to a lovely lady and told her my grades and she interviewed me there and then over the phone. I was shocked, but I decided to give it my best shot and to my luck I was offered a place on the Psychology with Foundation Year course.

How was your experience as a Psychology student at UWL? 

I loved the support from the psychology department staff. I never felt stuck or within a tight space during my studies. Just having that extra support really helped me. Always having a friendly and welcoming face to turn to whenever things weren't clear, made my time at UWL enjoyable. Support was never far away and I really valued that.

What aspects of the BSc (Hons) Psychology degree at UWL do you appreciate most? 

I enjoyed that I was able to learn about many different aspects of psychology and I really enjoyed my third year modules the most - Mental Health, Health Psychology and Neuropsychology. I felt much more independent in my last year and I think that made my learning more enjoyable. Mental Health was my favourite because I was able to thoroughly explore it through the module. Mental health is such a major issue within society, I felt that the module was very realistic and extremely interesting.

What message do you give to prospective students?

Get organised and set time aside to focus on your studies. Also, gain as much experience as possible, get out into the world and broaden your horizons. Even if you give up your time for two hours a week, everything still counts as valuable experience. Last but not least, remember to enjoy every minute of it and do not stress because there's always a solution to every problem and help is always at hand.

Finally Jenise says, 'I am not limiting myself and I'm making the most of all the opportunities at hand', which is a fantastic attitude to have and along with her first class degree will no doubt ensure that Jenise goes on to even bigger and better achievements. Jenise has achieved a great deal already and we all wish her the best of luck in the future.

Jenise Davidson

Dorita Diaz

Name: Dorita Diaz                                                                                                      Dorita Diaz
Course: BSc (Hons) Psychology

Dorita Diaz began her BSc Psychology degree in 2012 after 21 years away from education and is now about to embark on her final year.

Dorita's first year was more difficult than most with the loss of her mother. Despite this, Dorita threw herself into her study, work and many volunteering opportunities.

What outside or additional activities have you been involved with during the first two years of your degree?

In my first year I was involved in setting up the Psychology Society and then became the vice-president. I really enjoyed it and we went on to win the 'Best new society of the year' award.

Towards the end of the year, I applied to Victim Support as a volunteer and got a job at UWL in the Alumni office. I also volunteered with the mentoring scheme, sharing my experience to support new mature students.

With the UWL volunteer team I took part in various activities including painting rooms in a respite home for people with learning disabilities. I'm also part of the UWL women’s football team.

Do you feel regret for doing so much in year two, in terms of your workload?

No. It did get very busy but I just thought - I’m never going to have the chance to engage with the University and with other students again. I wanted to make the most of it.

What role were you applying for at Victim Support?

I knew that they specialised in domestic violence, which I was really interested in. It related to the psychology course I was doing so I'd be able to apply the knowledge that I’d gained during the course.

I provided emotional support through the phone and face-to-face visits either at the victim's home or at the Ealing Council offices. I was working at Victim Support about 4-6 hours per week including visits.

How is the course helping you and your work?

The course is helping me a lot. Without it, I don't think I would have joined Victim Support. I might be talking to someone with Parkinson's disease and think, 'They must be going through this' and 'oh yes, that's true', so theories start to gel together, instead of being abstract.

I also worked as a volunteer with people with dementia and Alzheimer's. One patient had spatial neglect, he couldn’t see the left side (of his visual field), so that helped when I came to do the cognitive module.

Do you think it would be different if you had volunteered without having done the Psychology Degree?

The course has helped a lot. When I did my additional training (for Victim Support) they asked, 'when you go to a house with a single mother and you think there's some issue with domestic violence, what issues do you think the child might go through?' and I remember thinking about bio-psycho-social factors and it flowed out of me.

Well done on your recent promotion at Victim Support. Tell us about how this happened.

Before you can specialise you do at least 20 hours of volunteering on low-level cases. When I had my end-of-probation interview with my manager, she said she was putting me forward for specialist domestic and sexual violence training because I had done really well working with the victims.

What thoughts have you had about your final year?

My dissertation might be linked to my work at Victim Support. I’ve been talking to some lecturers about it already and I can do it without compromising ethics.

After I graduate I am going to do an MSc, but there is also the opportunity of a long-term paid job at Victim Support so I plan to carry on there.


Jamila Al Ibrahim

A quick interview with Jamila Al Ibrahim

Jamila Al Ibrahim concluded her Psychology degree and graduated with First Class Honours in November 2013. She's currently completing a Masters degree in Occupational Psychology. Jamila met up with Dr Moira Cachia at Paragon House to share her views on being an undergraduate student at UWL.

Can you recall how you came to choose UWL to study Psychology?

Of course. I based my decision on three main criteria: the lecturers, the programme content and the environment. First of all, I had such a quick interaction with the lecturers, right from the beginning. They contacted me straight away once I applied. They were really supportive and available, checking that my queries were cleared, which, to be honest, as an undergraduate student is extremely appreciated. Secondly, the programme is comprehensive and has recognition from the British Psychological Society. Finally, as a foreign student, I was looking at different universities and programmes and UWL seemed to be the one with most variety in terms of providing a multi-cultural environment.

Did your experience at UWL fulfil your expectations?

Absolutely. The academic environment here is so welcoming. Lecturers are available to talk to you after lectures, in their office or by email. It's really easy to get in touch with them. There's openness and encouragement to discuss content beyond learning the theory and to understand why the information is valuable. I like the critical and evidence-based approach adopted. I greatly appreciate the seminars too because they give you the opportunity to discuss the lecture material. It’s an active way of learning as they help you to generate ideas, to clarify misconceptions and to remember the learnt knowledge even months later.

In hindsight, what aspects of the BSc (Hons) Psychology at UWL do you appreciate most?

The covered content is varied and has thoroughly paved the way for my Masters programme, providing me with a very strong foundation. I haven’t struggled at all at Masters level, thanks to the knowledge that I acquired on the undergraduate programme over here, plus, the course has helped me a lot in my personal life too. I also greatly appreciated the experiential module which required me to engage in a work placement. Its reflective element was good practice to my present assessments and to real life application of psychological knowledge.

What message do you give to prospective students?

Being an undergraduate student can be daunting at the start. You have likes and dislikes in terms of topics, and it all looks so scary at the beginning. But actually, once you get through the first week where everything is new, things start falling into place and you can really enjoy being here because the staff are really helpful. You can be sure that they’re going to be there, they're really student-oriented. Seek the support because it's available. Knowing this you can be confident that you will succeed. This University is a very user-friendly environment.

Michael Ben Yehuda

A spotlight on: Michael Ben Yehuda

Name: Michael Ben Yehuda
Course: BSc (Hons) Psychology

What made you choose psychology at UWL?

I’ve always been fascinated by psychology, why people do the things they do and think the way they do. I chose UWL because the Psychology Department provides students with the chance to specialise in all sorts of captivating subject areas. I also really love studying in Ealing, it's beautiful.

What part of your course do you like best?

My Experiential Learning module has to be the highlight. It includes working at an industry focused placement that’s relevant to your course and interests. My lecturer Dr Bob Lockie helped me find an inspirational placement at UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience last summer and I’ve been volunteering there ever since.

What has been your highlight at the University so far?

Working as a Research Intern in the Psychology Department during my first year. The theory from my studies really came to life as I worked on an eclectic mix of thought-provoking practical research projects.

I also enjoyed volunteering as a student mentor in my second year. It was extremely rewarding supporting first year students with their studies and seeing them gradually develop and become more confident.

What are you planning to do after graduation this summer? 

I have already been offered a place at UCL and Oxford University to study a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience and Research Methods. It’s a tough choice but the course at Oxford is more appealing to me as it would allow me to further develop my understanding of a variety of different research methods rather than focussing only on cognitive neuroscience.

Ultimately, my long-term ambition is to complete a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience before becoming a Research Psychologist. My undergraduate degree at UWL has already helped me on my way towards achieving this.