Back to My “Party in the USA”: Reverse Culture-Shock & Preparing for the Remainder of My Degrees in the Honors College

Hello again everyone, Cody Vaughn here!
This time, I’m reporting from more familiar territory: good ol’ Southwest Missouri! A lot has happened in my life since I last wrote (A Missouri State Bear Migrates South for Winter…) - I’ve come home from Australia, I’ve arranged to have my own apartment to stay in for MSU’s 2nd semester, I’ve celebrated a slew of special occasions (homecoming, several birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, etc.), and I underwent invasive surgery to have my gall bladder removed due to complications with gallstones (darn genetics…) I’ve been comfortably home for just about a month now, and I’ve spent my time working a seasonal job and making plans for the end of my college career at MSU. I’m entering the second semester of my 3rd year, but I’m well over a senior by credit hours, so I’ve decided to make some careful preparations to make my last semesters productive, valuable, and fun. The Honors College will certainly play a role in these goals, so I write this entry as both an Honors representative for any inquiring minds, and to ask some questions of my own.

But first, a special note about reverse culture-shock. Boy, has it hit me! Getting caught up in the stagnancy of living at home over break and fervently people-watching at work allowed me to observe the surprisingly different mindsets people of seemingly similar cultures can have. I’m in no way passing judgement or insinuating any sort of superiority present in the Australian culture, but I found many aspects of my life in Sydney wonderfully ideal. I got so comfortably used to even the most minute everyday differences that I can’t help but feel a bit jarred in trying to get used to a life much less urban, less coastal, less tropical, less eventful, and much less diverse. I’d go into specifics, but lest I seem like a bitter cynic, and for the sake of brevity I can address any cultural/lifestyle differences as responses to comments and questions to this post! Overall, I’d still say that “life is what you make it” and I’ll find a way to make my own little corner of Sydney in Springfield… I will miss all of my friends having Aussie accents though! Another change I expect to observe is the difference in academic life and planning out my schoolwork in the American system. Luckily, this is the style I am more familiar and comfortable with, so I am eager to be back in a system I know how to navigate and manipulate.

This is where I want some feedback from my colleagues, since I’m right at the threshold of making some major decisions affecting the rest of my educational career. I have 3 major crossroads presented to me; I’ll address each one individually:

  1. Being a member of the Honors College has allowed me the unique opportunity to pursue a special distinction in my Psychology degree, which is something I’ve researched and conversed with my advisor about. It’s a lot of extra work where I’d have to prepare a “mini-thesis” within the context of a big research project. Since I’m obviously interested in my subject the project may not necessarily be miserable, but I can’t help but wonder if it would legitimately serve a good purpose for me. All about learning for the sake of learning, but I’ve got a lot of other things going on for me and I don’t want to waste my time adding this to my degree title if the ideal hope of it creating some great opportunities for me doesn’t pan out. So my fellow academics, what do you think? Should I pursue Departmental Honors in Psychology?
  2. Another path I’m looking into is participating in the Accelerated Master’s program in my second major, Communication Studies. This is another thing I’ve spoke to my other advisor about, and it too gives me the chance to enhance my résumé  by devoting extra time and effort to my studies. I’m eligible for this program that would allow me to get dual-credit toward my COM degree and a Master’s in Communication. This holds more promise (who wouldn’t want to significantly shorten their time required in Graduate school?) but could potentially put strain on my schedule or even perhaps put me at MSU an extra semester past my 4-year degrees. Again, I ask the Honors College, what do you all think?
  3. Finally, my two former life decisions lead me to the inevitable: the search for a Graduate School. I plan on going into this, but this daunting task is just very scary to me. I know, I know, a lot of people go through this all the time… but any suggestions, pointers, or aids offered by my scholastic peers would be appreciated. I may even go overseas again if I can… the “travel  bug” has certainly infected me and helped me grow into a more independent person.

So much for brevity. Sorry folks, but if anyone has anything they can contribute to help me out I’d LOVE the advice. Comments, questions, and enthusiastic rapport about culture-shock/reverse culture-shock are also encouraged! Thanks everyone, and I hope you all have a joyous, eventful start to the Spring 2012 semester at Missouri State!
Until next time, this is Cody Vaughn – signing off!

About Cody Vaughn

I'm a Junior at MSU studying Psychology and Communication.
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One Response to Back to My “Party in the USA”: Reverse Culture-Shock & Preparing for the Remainder of My Degrees in the Honors College

  1. Cynthia Johnson says:

    Welcome home, Cody!

    1. I’ve got to say, I’m a huge advocate for Departmental Honors. It does more than add to your degree title–it allows you to gain a better understanding of a subject in your field. And I guarantee the more experience you have researching and building an intricate project, the more opportunities are going to be available. It will also make you more desirable to those graduate schools you’re looking at. Unless you’re so busy that you don’t think you can complete a successful project, I say go for it! It’s actually pretty fun…

    2. Don’t let the risk of an extra undergraduate semester discourage you if it’s going to lessen your time in graduate school anyway.

    3. Research, research, research. Begin looking at schools that have the program you’re interested in, a location you’d enjoy, and faculty you’d like to work with. Start a folder where you keep print-outs of requirements and deadlines for application materials. Also, it’s never too early to start learning the art of the personal statement (blah). And don’t be afraid to apply to as many schools as you can.

    So there’s my advice, for what it’s worth. Hope it helps. Let us know what you decide to do!