The Real World is Such a Stupid Joke

When I woke up Wednesday morning it looked like my peace lilly was dying. I didn’t have time to give it that much of a pep-talk, but gave it a little water.

I spent more time than intended reflecting on my dreams, and realized I would be late for class. I made myself two pieces of toast and a thermos of cayenne-hot-chocolate, and rocked up to class five minutes late. When I got there everyone was standing outside asking: “Is there anyone in there?” This was how I ended up the first person to the Neuropsychology tutorial on visual-spatial disorders.

I scarfed X-amount of corn-chips with the beans and fajitas I had effectively placed in a generic brand plastic container, rocked up to the library, and studied for 1.5 hours before going to a lab meeting.

Before studying abroad I systematically looked through each school where this was available, and found that the one with the best classes for me was Macquarie Uni. This was mainly based on the fact that they offered a class called: “Music, Mind and Message:” which specialized in music cognition, and was taught by the head of the psychology department, Bill Thompson. In the end that class wasn’t offered this semester, but the textbook Thompson wrote is available in the library.

The date of my 21st birthday was the deadline to get all the materials in for study abroad, and this happened to be the date I completed my entire application for study abroad, including a petition to the Academic Standing Committee, saying they should let me break a bunch of rules so that I could study abroad.

Study abroad is a complete privilege, and it’s consistently a statistically a life-changing experience (because, you can easily quantify that which is life-changing). 85% of community-college transfer students miss out on this life-changing experience. As a community college transfer student I was financially disadvantaged and was even discouraged from study abroad in official campus literature.

Tangent aside, here I am, in Australia, writing a blog, based on a heap of scraggly logic. I think what my scraggly logic turns into is a lot of white matter, just making connections like some sort of networking capitalist that lives inside HUMAN BRAINS!

So back to human brains: I ended up the first person at this lab meeting, because my life-story and college history has placed me in this position at a neuroimaging lab. The person who interviewed me at this lab noted my interest the brain and music, and mentioned the name: “Bill Thomspon” I emailed Bill, asking about any experiment ideas he might have involving MEG (that’s the kind of brain research lab I’m interning in) Instead of replying to me like so many professors would (with automated messages or “something something something bureaucracy and “No kid, you are a fool!”) He responded inviting me to a lab meeting, and to discuss experiment ideas.

Dr. Thompson seemed keen to use me as a buffer between the brain lab and his music-cognition lab and hinted at a role in designing/piloting my own experiment several times, only to realize that I will be here until December, which will not be enough time to get it passed by ethics etc. I couldn’t believe that my foolhardy dreams were being siphoned out into the little office with such ease, like it would just be possible for an undergrad with a small amount of lab experience to bypass the real world based solely on enthusiasm. I am so grateful for all the opportunities and support and wish I could stay here another semester. I may not be able to design a complete experiment, but we’ll see how much I can do.

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