I graduated in May, so my knowledge of UVa activities and academics is still fairly fresh. I graduated with my BA in Psychology, along with taking five semesters of the Tibetan language to satisfy my language requirement.
Therefore, this post will mainly discuss the merits of some of the Psychology classes and professors at the University, and I will mention a little about the Tibetan program.
About the Professors:
Brian Nosek, James Coan, Karen Schmidt, John Haidt, Peter Brunjes, David Hill, Angeline Lillard and Timothy Wilson were all top quality professors who I took classes from or worked with. Dr. Nosek’s class was Psyc 101 – he always had music going with the theme of the song having to do with the topic of the day. Very engaging and highly entertaining! Dr. Coan was my advisor. The first day I walked into his office, he was wearing a casual button down long-sleeve shirt with his sleeves rolled up, cut off shorts and red converse high tops. Needless to say I asked him where Professor Coan was! Well, it was he. And he is a modest, awesome dude! Karen Schmidt is probably the primary reason I graduated as I struggled to get through the 3005 / 3006 courses (I dropped each before completing them) and she made this material (research methods and data analysis) very engaging and approachable. Dr. Haidt is well known for his work with positive psychology – a very interesting field to be certain! I took my bio-psych classes from Dr.s Brunjes and Hill, 220 and 420 respectively. They are hilarious! In fact, they tended to play pranks on each other, sometimes in class and sometimes you would hear the humorous stories about various gags. Very enlivening professors! Dr. Lillard was a very strict but engaging and passionate professor. I enjoyed her class on Child Psychology. And finally Dr. Wilson was sort of my surrogate advisor. It seems he is one of the gurus of Social Psychology. Very cool!
As I mentioned in my previous posts on my UVa experience, I am very glad for my time at the University. It was like a form of mind training. Refining and grinding my intuitive, feeling, impulsive mind down while building up an empirical, diligence-sustaining and focused one. Plus my connections within the Religious Studies department and among grad students (I started UVa when I was 28) really helped.
Now a bit about the Tibetan program at UVa. I realize Tibetan is not the first language you think when you consider fulfilling your language requirements. In fact, you may not even realize UVa offers it, or that it is a language at all! Some of the people I work with are of Hispanic backgrounds and they ask me, “What is Tibet? A country? A culture? A place?” (They are exceptionally kind-hearted, sharp-witted, altruistic individuals, it just seems some of them do not keep track of world events.)
Well, if you need to take an elective and are not sure where to look, you might want to peek into Tibetan. I say this because UVa has one of the best Tibetan professors in the world, and I’m not exaggerating. His name is Tsetan Chonjore and he wrote one of the top Tibetan language books that is on the market (of course there might be ten out there total…): “Colloquial Tibetan.” He took a lot of time working with linguists and other scholars to get it right.
It is not an easy language, so be prepared to work, but you will be rewarded when you do. Prof. Chonjore (or “Gan la” – meaning “teacher” in Tibetan) is very engaging, humorous and filled with equanimity. He is a part of the UVa Tibet Day which happens each spring semester around Losar (Tibetan New Year which is usually somewhere near late February – they are on a lunar calendar) and it’s primary purpose is to introduce Tibetan culture and academics to fellow UVa students. So you should check it out if possible. Oh, and there are very, very few schools that offer Tibetan at all, and UVa offers it year round. It has one of the best summer language programs in the world, where you can get credit for four semesters of language in less than nine weeks (they don’t call it an intensive for nothing!).