Eleven North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University take part in Psychology Department’s study abroad program

By: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. – Eleven North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University students experienced the origins of psychology in London and Vienna as part of a Department of Psychology study abroad trip.

In order to participate in the weeklong program, students had to either major or minor in psychology, take the History and Systems of Psychology (PSYC 271) course, and be in good academic standing within the department, which requires a 2.5 GPA.

Jamese Baines, Hannah Hicks, Isaiah Griggs, Kaylee Harper, Niyah Lucas, Rosalina Macon, Gabrielle Ottey, Haleigh Taylor, Naomi Thombs, Khayla Washington and Tajia Frederick-Williams were selected to participate.

Cassandra M. Germain, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in the John R. and Kathy R. Hairston College of Health and Human Sciences and associate director of the Center for Integrative Health Disparities and Equity Research (CIHDER), coordinated the trip by EF Educational Tours Inc. She said her goal was to curate a cumulative experience for the history of psychology course.

“A lot of students don’t love history,” Germain said. “This was a way to make the course come alive for them and learn things that were not in their textbooks.”

This experimental study abroad program has been in the works since 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed recruitment to May 2022. “It was a lot of work,” Germain said with a laugh.

Lucas, a rising senior studying psychology, thoroughly enjoyed her time abroad and was very eager to seize the opportunity.

“Who doesn’t want to go to Europe?” Lucas said. “I love to travel. I love to be out of the house and see the world and stuff, but I also thought it would’ve been a great opportunity to learn more about psychology outside of what we learn in the classroom.”

During their time abroad, students were able to visit both homes of Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, in London and Vienna.

“It inspired me a lot, actually being in his house, his study, especially in London,” Lucas said.

“Nothing was moved or altered,” said Thombs, who graduated in May 2022 with a B.A. in psychology. “It was where he and his family lived for some time and we even got to read some of his writing, which explained some of their practices and how it carried over to the Americas.”

Students visited other historical and cultural sites such as the Tower of Insanity, St. Mary Bethlehem Royal Hospital, local hospitals, restaurants, and much more.

Macon, a rising junior psychology major and Spanish minor, appreciated the cultural experience.

“I saw people actually having real conversations and nobody being on their phone,” she said. “It was just so refreshing to see like a culture where people are still remaining present.”

One of Macon’s most memorable takeaways was learning about the perspective of psychoanalysis in London.

“The way they treat patients in London, they’re not big on over-diagnosing people,” she said. “Over there, there’s not a lot of people who are labeled with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). They kind of view it more as like a normal human thing versus here, where we have so many people at a young age being diagnosed with that.

“It made me think more about how in America we stress more on overanalyzing people for normal human functions – especially like Black people and people of color.”

Macon said learning about the way patients are labeled and diagnosed in their culture impacted the perspective she will use in the field of psychology.

The study abroad experience also forged friendships among the participating Aggies.

“All of us that were on that trip were put in the same boat where we didn’t really have friends that came with us on the trip, so we were forced to kind of be friends with each other and it was the best thing ever,” said Lucas. “I think that’s my favorite thing that’s come out of this is the friends that I’ve made because of the trip.”

Macon agrees.

“We didn’t know each other from a can of paint,” she said. “But now I feel like I’ve known them all my life.”

Germain is planning a second cohort to visit Vienna, London and Amsterdam to offer more students this cultural and educational experience and create more lifelong memories.

“I’m really proud that we were able to get this off the ground,” she said. “Just seeing the students’ excitement, I would say we definitely accomplished our objectives and I am happy we were able to give them this experience.”

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