Tag Archives: study

Conformity — Do you pass the elevator test?

Conformity; the unwritten, unenforced laws that everyone obeys. Yes, that means you, too. For example, When you step into an elevator, which way do you face? After pondering for a few seconds, your answer is likely the elevator doors. Why? Have you ever tried facing the back of the elevator? There’s nothing that says you cannot; go try it. How about asking someone on the bus for their seat, no matter how many empty seats there are available? Cutting in line during the morning Tim Horton’s rush?

Chances are you will feel very uncomfortable doing any of these small acts of out-of-the-norm behaviour. You may even break a sweat. You feel this discomfort because of the bonds of conformity, your instinct to be one with the crowd. But why do we conform? Why do we care so much about what other people think?

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Would you ever… work or study abroad?

Would you ever cross oceans and continents, leaving your family and friends and everything familiar behind in the name of your future? Take international students for example. At the University of Waterloo, where I attend classes, there are a number of students from different parts of the country, continent, and all over the world. I know some people who have also moved far from people they care about for a job. Would you do it? Have you already? I wonder where the biggest challenges come in adapting to a new environment. Language is probably a really big one. There is only so much one can learn from the classroom. Food is probably another issue. The most difficult hurdle in adapting to a new location is likely the cultural difference. In a different society, different behaviours are deemed deviant; what may be unacceptable where you are from might be accepted in a new environment.

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“Speaking the language of love”—Couples with Matching Writing Styles Last Longer

According to an article on NewScientist,  the way in which couples communicate with one another online can predict whether their relationship will last or not. The study identified patterns in couples’ use of words like “a”, “will”, “that”, and “am”. According to the study, most couples who matched in their writing styles were still together three months later, whereas those couples whose writing styles didn’t match experienced a 54% togetherness-percentage three months later.

Personally, I have to call the study out on two things not indicated in the article. Firstly, the time duration. Of the 80% that were still together three months after the study, how many of them lasted, say, a year after? I don’t think three months is ample time to deduce the longevity of the couple’s relationship. What if they broke up a week after? On the other hand, what if they stayed together for the next five years? Likewise, in regards to the 54% mismatched couples that lasted the extra three months, I’d like to see more information on how much longer they stayed together after the study. What if of the 54%, 90% of the couples got married? What if the matched couples only stayed together for an average of a few months longer than the writing-mismatches? Forgive me for these jumble-jambles of hypotheses that may or may not make sense.

My point is, three months isn’t long enough to decide which relationships are “destined for success.” After all, it’s not uncommon for people to change partners every three months(?)… You catch my drift.

My second point would be the analysis of the writing styles. This was done by examining the frequency of certain words in a couple’s online chats. I don’t know about you, but if I knew I was going to send some of my online chat log to a research centre to be studied, I wouldn’t exactly speak with my partner as… casually as I normally would. Nor about personal things I wouldn’t want other people to see. Which also brings to light the use of slang. Were the couples asked to chat with one another in perfect english? If so, it doesn’t make sense to me to analyze the symmetry of two people’s writing style if it’s in a style out of the norm to them. What if the couples usually talk in a jargon filled language of “sowwies” and “hunbun” and “cuppiecake”s? (I totally came up with those on the spot, incase you’re wondering. )

Also mentioned in the beginning of the article is the idea that people in happy marriages live “happier and healthier lives than singletons.” Not to say being single is ultimately less healthy, notes the article’s author Catherine de Lange; “divorces can have a serious negative impact on a person’s health.That’s something no singleton ever has to worry about. “(For awhile… or ever, depending on the person). Similarly, “it is better to be single than in a strained relationship.” (The Telegraph)

Afterall, the divorce rates are increasing throughout Canada (Who is spreading this nonsense? They’re not increasing. However people who are divorced are more likely to get divorced a second time.)

So what does that say about person’s overall health condition in relation to a one’s romantic liaison(s)?  Canada’s overall divorce rates are going down, but what is it that causes these divorces in the first place? Can divorce rates be lowered? I’m not educated enough to think I have a valid argument in the topic, but in my opinion, idealism has probably led to many disappointed relationships. From Disney to romance novels; to chick-flicks and broadway numbers, people naturally develop their own criteria for a perfect relationship.

But ideals are just that; ideal. They aren’t meant to be realistic, just a dream. Perhaps that is why so many people wind up in disappointing marriages and relationships. We expect our loved ones to do things a certain way, or to understand how we feel wordlessly. We expect that telepathic communication people say relationships are equipped with, or we believe that the person we’ve fallen in love with is indeed perfect and wonderful. Worst of all, we forget that a relationship is not without conflict. We forget that to fall in love with someone is to accept not only their most beautiful and mesmerizing qualities, but also their ugliest and most foul tendencies. Being able to overcome the conflicts and faults you find in a relationship is the best way to make it a thing of benevolence that will enrich your life. It won’t be easy; nothing good ever comes from things too easy. However it can be done, with the aid of good communication, patience, and understanding.
Or you could always get a dog.

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UCLA study: Bad job market makes overly anxious students, but is there more?

A UCLA study is buzzing around the net and media claiming “college kids are more stressed out and anxious than ever before” (Slate.com’s Clarke, 2011). Studies said this was due to the job market. According to a rebuttal article on Slate, college students aren’t worried about the job market, they’re just living in an age in which anxiety ranks higher than depression in common detrimental mental conditions.

As a university student, I feel that neither Slate’s article nor the UCLA study are wrong their reasoning. However I’d like to add my own personal tidbit to the argument. Witnessing the stress of students firsthand, I’d say the most stressful aspect of today’s post-secondary education is that simply having a degree isn’t enough anymore. You can’t just graduate with a Bachelor’s and expect a wonderful 40k job, the job market simply expects better than that. You must be better than the competition to land your dream career, and that’s where the stress comes from; the competition.

As a Biomedical Sciences student, I know for a fact that almost everyone in my program is aiming for some sort of professional/graduate school program, be it pharmacy, medical school, dentistry, or optometry. Albeit it’s not surprising, seeing as how my program, here at the University of Waterloo, was previously called “pre-optometry/pre-med,” or something along those lines.

An interesting point though is that I was having a conversation earlier in the year with a woman working for the career centre at the university about potential jobs for science undergraduates. She said career advisors were finding that time and time again, many students in the life sciences programs were aiming for professional schools, especially medical school. However, the reality is that very few of them actually make the cut. For those who don’t, they become depressed and don’t know what else to do.

The feeling of not knowing where your life is taking you or where you want to take your own life will create a lot of anxiety in any student. We spend all this time, effort, and stamina toward getting the best grades in the false illusion that “my plan may not work out, but as long as I have really good grades I’ll get somewhere…. right?”

I think the best thing any student can do now is to research.  Get an idea of what jobs are out there that you’ve never heard of, something your parents never told you about. An example is a medical illustrator (http://www.universityaffairs.ca/so-you-want-to-be-a-medical-illustrator.aspx). There are tons of jobs out there that just aren’t prestigious enough to get the attention they deserve, but can be just as, if not more, satisfying than whatever career path mom and dad set for you.

Never wait until the last minute. Don’t wait until your last year of undergrad or high school to figure out “you know… I’ve been taking all these math courses… but I really don’t like math.” The courses you take in your earlier years will determine which ones you can qualify for in later years. So choose wisely.

Most importantly, ask for help. Never be afraid to ask a guidance counsellor or academic advisor for some words of guidance, some references, some key resources.

Be true to your desires; be open-minded; keep your options open. But for goodness’s sake, calm down. There is no such thing as “I don’t have time.” There is only “I don’t make time.” Unless you’re a double-degree student who’s also the executive officer of 4 clubs, in which case may you have my blessing to be prosperous and hopefully not addicted to caffeine.

But seriously, whther you are a student or not, time management is key. You will indeed run out of time if you don’t manage it wisely. Just make sure your schedule includes a relaxation and some fun stuff to do.

(Slate.com’s article on the UCLA anxiety study and responses to it, http://www.slate.com/id/2283221/)

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