Reflections 2.

 

My journey as an Undergraduate Student has finished last week and yet I find myself sitting at one of the computers on the 8th floor at Salford University, where I spent my last three years.

What a journey it has been! I came here in the hope to gain a degree in Psychology and Counselling but as you will find out soon, I gained so much more!

I grew as a person and I gained a new, wider perspective thanks to the inspiring and enthusiastic Psychology , Public Health, and Counselling staff; who were all passionate about their own area. What made Salford special to me was, the members of our faculty, who made lectures and seminars interesting and stimulating. They were approachable and were always there when we needed their support.

I had the opportunity to gain experience in research after my first year; to get to Conferences and to write a book review (here).

More than that, this degree gave me the chance to find my “own voice” and ultimately myself in the realm of Psychology!

If you would ask me now: ‘What kind of Psychologist I aspire to be? ‘ My answer would be: Social Psychologist…with a strong interest in Identity and Biculturalism/Bilingualism.

The interesting fact is that I already had interest in these topics when I started University (here and here)  but through the years, it became stronger and somehow now this area is what defines me. This is what my main interest is,  alongside with the cognitive aspects of bilingualism, such as language control (here) or the cognitive advantage of bilingualism (here).

Although I am sure I will continue this amazing journey, I still  feel a great sense of loss about finishing my degree and I can  feel the shift in my identity…I am done being an undergraduate student. Lectures are finished, no more assignment is due in…and it feels like suddenly I do not find my place.

My second blog post (here) was titled “Where do I fit in?” reflects how I feel at this moment…at the end of my Undergraduate Journey.

I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You to all ex – and current members of staff at the Psychology & Public Health Department and also to the members of the Counselling Team! You all have been great and added so much value to my journey. It was a pleasure to be part of #SalfordPscyh !

 

 

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Bilingualism and Cognitive Psychology

bilingual

 

I have not posted here a while ago but now after my “forced” holiday, I am back!

I can not believe but my first year at University is already over! Although in the second semester, as a result of my health issues,  I could not attend to all my lectures and seminars, still they had a great impact on me. I was really apprehensive about Cognitive and Biology Psychology but, to my surprise, I enjoyed both modules and I even developed a serious interest in Cognitive Psychology.

In fact, what I am really interested in is the connection between the brain and being bilingual; how does being bilingual affect our cognitive ability and how does our brain decides which language are we speaking while being unconscious or while dreaming.

Being bilingual means, I need to switch between two languages (Hungarian and English) continuously while thinking, talking, and sometimes even during writing my personal journal. This started early on as I am writing journals since the age of 14 and often if I did not want my parents or siblings being able to read my entries, I wrote them in English.

A few years ago I had my first surgery and when I fully awoke, my doctor told me,that I was talking to him in English and we had a full conversation (while I was not fully conscious). Room mates also reported that I was talking (while asleep) in English and not in Hungarian.

In April I had an other operation and being a psychology student, even though I was extremely nervous, I could not resist and I did a tiny “experiment” myself. Before drifting off to sleep, I told myself that when I wake up from this operation, I will talk in Hungarian, I thought a bit of conscious effort will surly help.

However, when I woke up (to the sound of my own voice), I realized I am talking in English and it took me a lot of conscious effort (I remember thinking just one word…say one word in Hungarian) to switch to Hungarian. Finally,  I managed to say “all right” in Hungarian, before drifting back to sleep again. When I awoke fully, I asked my room mates, whether I was talking when I was brought back from the operation and  they reported that I was talking in English first, then I switched to Hungarian.

Since then I did some research online and found Dr. Ellen Bialystok, who has done some serious research about how bilingualism affects our cognitive abilities throughout the lifespan.  I am going to read some more from her this summer and possibly research this topic in more depth, after all the next year we get to choose our Dissertation topic and I want to be fully prepared, before I make an informed choice!  I enjoy this course tremendously and even when I am not at the University, I can not take my “psychology hat” off.

The best thing  about my first year was the fact that I found my passion and it definitely is Psychology.

If you would like to read about Dr. Ellen Bialystok  and her work so far, then please follow this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_Bialystok

 

 

Reflection

The first semester has gone and I have only managed to create two posts so far. I am not going to be too hard on myself as I have been busy as a mum,  a wife and of course I have spent quite lot of my time with studying.  I decided that my third post therefore will be a reflection on this semester.

When I arrived to the University of Salford, I had lot of expectations. I expected the course to be demanding and challenging. I expected to meet some lovely people and of course I expected to get value for my money. What I have not expected is that the whole student experience will be much more than lectures and seminars and long nights when I try to understand IRM:) which I was dreading by the way. What I have not expected that the staff will be available day and sometimes even  nights; that we can get into many different discussions on social media with them and other students/professionals. What I have not expected that my world will be expanded in so many ways!

After this Semester I can honestly say that my expectations  has not only be met but has been exceeded!

What it means to me to be a student and a student rep.at the University of Salford? It means that I can reach my goals which were shuttered when I left my country. It means that my family’s dream will come true as I will be the first one who will have a degree in my family. It means that I can become the person who I want to be.

Being a student representative just reassured me that this is MY way, that going to University was the right choice for me. It inspires me as I meet with other student reps. who have similar goals and it gives me a sense of belonging.

I know I have a long way ahead of me but when things get tough, it is enough to think about how far I came literally from Hungary and of course in my life and it gives me the strength to carry on.  There are days when I arrive at the University and I look at the Allerton Building. It just makes me smile and happy; it makes me feel proud to be part of Salford University.

I feel so different to other students for many reasons but I found the University of Salford welcoming and stimulating, which enables me to develop myself while being unique and it encourages me to aim for more; to be an active participant in my own learning.

I am proud to be Hungarian and I am proud to be a student at the University of Salford.

Biracial Identity development

                                                                                                             06lettersimg-articleInline 

The number of biracial children is growing every day in the United Kingdom as immigration from Europe and beyond is blooming.

According to National Statistics (ONS) (2009) there are 956,700 “mixed persons” in England, 1.8% of the English population.”

Biracial children have to face more challenges then children from a single raced background when it comes to find their place in the society.

It is a unique situation as biracial children not only experience being different from their peers and other people but also being different from their parents. (Pinderhughes, 1989)

There is a sense of being “both yet neither” (Kich, 1992,)

As a parent of a biracial child myself,  I  believe that it is important to raise some questions about parenting biracial children in order to understand those issues they might face, so that parents from very different cultural backgrounds can support their children to develop a healthy biracial identity and reach their full potential.

In order to reach their full potential and to become a productive member of society, children need to develop healthy self-esteem and racial identity is part of that.

Stephan et al (1992) proposed that the outcome of this developmental process is affected by specific factors, such as: physical appearance, personality, surname, the status of groupings, the individual acceptance by both heritage groups (extended family), the parental attitude towards the management of biracial identity and the attitudes of school or other institutions in the society.

A child between 3-4 years old has no problem to identify his skin colour but has no recognition of the permanency of the skin colour and cannot make connection to any racial group yet. (Pinderhughes, 1995)

When I asked my son whether Mommy is white or black, his answer is either “blue”, “green”, “yellow” as he usually refers to the top I wear.

 If I ask him whether he is Hungarian or Nigerian? Without hesitation his answer is: “I am English.”

He answers this question based on his first language which is English indeed.

Jacobs et al (1992) states that at the age of six children understand that their skin colour is not changeable and they become ambivalent about their racial identity. Being different at this stage are associated with negative feelings.

The ambivalence takes the form of white preference but later this might be reversed.

Jacobs (1992) stresses the importance of allowing the child to maintain this ambivalence as this will move the identity development forward to the stage where discordant elements begin to be reconciled in a unified identity.

McRoy and Freeman (1986) and Jacobs (1992) found that open communication between parents and children about their race is very important in this process and parents should offer the interracial label by providing support, comfort and opportunities to process feelings, experiences and facts.

Based on her research Wilson (1987) proposed that children at the age of 9 are either conflicted about being White/Black or accepted themselves as non-white and they are exploring how Black/Mixed identity fits in with their experiences.

If they feel uncomfortable with their racial identity, they either start to fantasise of being White; defensively retreat to a Black identity or they are unable to choose between the two.

According to Wilson’s (1987) findings, if parent’s attitudes/ responses are negative towards this differentness, a child will create a sense of not belonging and conflict will occur.

There is a disagreement concerning the duration of adolescent stage in which a healthy ethnic identity is developed; DeAndre and Riddle (1991) believes it happens between 13-18 years whilst Poussaint (1984) proposes it happens by college age.

Some children may experience this development as a conscious process whether or not to choose one of these identities and which one.

According to Gibbs and Hines (1992) one major issue in this process is the culture identity and who is the reference group, and where they fit in these groups.

A child who is supported through this process by his parents, extended family, peers, and institutions (like school) will be able to resolve this stage and will not only accept and value both heritages but will be also comfortable among both ethnic groups while will have the flexibility to accept that others might identify him as minority, majority or biracial. (Logan, Freeman and McRoy, 1987)

Those, in the other hand who are not able to unify their dual identity will not be able to resolve this developmental stage and therefore will be trapped in conflict. (Gibbs, 1987)

What can parents do to support their children to achieve this healthy biracial identity?

Wilson (1987) found that parents who were open about racism and separated the Black community’s struggle from the child’s individual struggle to get on with life, were more successful in supporting their children to achieve a healthy biracial identity.

“They encouraged their children to strive for success for their own benefit as people, rather than to prove that they can do as well as white children.” (Miller and Miller, 1990)

All researchers seem to agree that balance is one of the key concepts in this development process. This balance can be achieved by open communication, acceptance and I believe it is crucial to offer and introduce both heritages/cultures to children so that they know where they come from and it might bring them less conflict in their search for their identities in this multi-cultural society.

As my son is growing I am more and more aware of all these issues around him and I hope that by offering him all the support I can, he will grow into a self-confident and successful biracial adult who will be proud of both of his heritages.

References

Edited by: Herbert W.Harris, Howard C. Blue and Ezra E. H. Griffith (1995) Racial and ethnic Identity; Routledge, London (1995)

Kerry Ann Rockquemore and Tracy Laszloffy 2005), Raising biracial children, Alta Mira Press, London

“Where do I fit in?” The beginnings in the light of Social Identity Theory

When I arrived to the UK my perception of the world and my place in it has been turned upside down. I never left my country before so when I did, at the age of 24, it was a real shock to find that most people did not even know that my country exists.

I spoke fluently in English but I had great difficulty understanding different accents.

This combined with the fact that my country and culture was not known by most people I met, had a big impact on my self-esteem.

That is the reason why I have chosen to write briefly about Social Identity Theory today.

Social identity Theory was developed by Tajfel and Turner (1979).

“Social identity theory is best described as a theory that predicts certain intergroup behaviours on the basis of perceived group status differences, the perceived legitimacy and stability of those status differences, and the perceived ability to move from one group to another.”

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_identity_theory , 05.10.2013)

According to Tajfel (1979) “the groups people belonged were an important source of pride and self-esteem”.

When I read this definition I thought about how did it feel to be Hungarian in the multi-cultural society of London? Did it make me feel proud or did I become more self-conscious?

Tajfel and Turner (1979) proposed that there are 3 mental processes involved when evaluating other people as “us” or “them”.

The first stage is Social Categorisation– putting people into “boxes” (including ourselves)   such as: black, white, and lorry driver, single mother…etc.

Suddenly being Hungarian became the most important category I belonged to. In Hungary it did not have significance as most people around me were Hungarian as well.

The second stage is called Social Identification and this is when we adopt the identity of the group we believe we belong to.

I remember how confident I felt  among Hungarians as I was understood in the context of my own culture. 

The final stage is Social Comparison in this stage we compare our group with other groups.

Tajfel and Turner (1979) argue that in order to maintain self-esteem we tend to compare our group favorably with other groups.

( McLeod S.A. (2008) Social Identity Theory-Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html)

7 years ago I felt anxious about being compared based on my nationality , today I feel confident and proud to be identified as Hungarian.

I believe that the following video can be linked to the last stage of Social Identity Theory and personally it makes me really proud :).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQh43ChEMDA

If you would like to read more about Social Identity Theory please visit:

http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-identity-theory.html

https://www.uni-hohenheim.de/fileadmin/einrichtungen/psych/Dateien/Laufende_Projekte/Social_Identity_Theory.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_identity_theory

References:

Tajfel, H. &Turner, J.C. (1979) An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. The social psychology of intergroup relations

 

Hello and Welcome to my WORLD:)!

Hello Everyone,

I am Ivett  a first year  student ( Bsc Psychology and Counselling) at the University of Salford.

My aim is to write about the world around us and possibly my life in relation to Psychology and Counselling.

I come from Hungary (Pecs is my home town) and I would like to take this opportunity to write briefly about my country as it defines me in many ways.  I am proud to be Hungarian and I wish to embrace my culture in everything I do.

Hungary is  located in Central Europe and it is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine  and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary, 04.10.2013)

The capital  of Hungary is Budapest.

Image

http://www.ezilon.com/maps/europe/hungary-maps.html, 04.10.2013)

Pecs is the fifth biggest city in Hungary and it is located in the south.

As a vibrant university city with lively nightlife and beautiful surroundings (Mecsek Hills, Orfu Lake) it is one of the most popular cities in the country.

Here is a lovely picture of Pecs:

Image

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A9cs, 04.10.2013)

You can see some iconic buildings on the above picture, such as Dzsami- Gazi Kasim Pasha Mosque,  the Tv Tower which is in the background and also the famous Pecs Romanesque Cathedral (Church with  four towers).

In 2010 Pécs was selected to be the European Capital of Culture sharing the title together with Essen and Istanbul. The city’s motto is: “The Borderless City” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecs,_hungary, 04.10.2013)

If you would like to know more about Hungary or Pecs then please follow these links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecs,_hungary

I hope you enjoyed a bit of information about my country and my home town and please feel free to leave any feedback.

Till next time:).