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Vanessa Kudrnová

PBIS alumni Vanessa Kurdnova

Psychology at the University of Bath

Where are you and what are you doing?

I am currently in Prague, working a research internship at the Harvard Lab for Developmental Studies. The lab focuses on the study of uniquely human cognitive abilities such as intuitive psychology, physics, mathematical concept development and social cognition. My experiences range from assisting different infant and child based educational and physics projects while developing my own thesis primarily based in the domain of social cognition. 

Why did you choose to study psychology 

I chose to study Psychology because it was the only subject at the time of IB I could see myself studying and fully enjoying. The course sparked my interest because I could see its applicability across multiple domains, ranging from economics to art and history. My first choice for study was the University of Bath, due to its high ranking in the subject, its interest in student experiences beyond grades and its placement opportunities!

How are you enjoying University? What are you finding challenging?

In general, I would say I am enjoying as well as growing from being a part of the University environment. What I found challenging at first was to manage my time and to some extent the level of peer pressure which comes naturally when you live surrounded by others your age. I think I enjoyed my second year more than my first year as I had already found amazing friends and felt more grounded. Similarly, first year allowed me to understand how University assignments are graded and what is expected in Psychology, and that experience fueled my improvement in year 2. Overall, University played a significant role in helping me figure out what is really important to me in friendships, how to approach my degree and third, provided me with multiple volunteering/work experiences that developed my interest in Psychology. 

What’s a typical day like for you?

For now, I am working in Eastern Time and so my days are slightly inverted.   My morning in the current lockdown evolves around helping out at home and doing things I enjoy (walks, cooking, piano), while my afternoons at work usually involve several meetings, running (and coding data for) a couple of participants as well as doing independent work for other projects.

How did PBIS prepare you for university life?

First, I had an amazing teacher for Psychology who LITERALLY squeezed the best out of me and taught me that nothing in life ever comes easy, but that hard work can be insanely rewarding. Second, I got to grow up in an international environment, which coming to university became extremely valuable, encouraging me to meet and become friends with people all around the world. Third, the IB program helped me a lot in understanding hard work, as well as developing on my own interests through CAS.  For example, I took part in many volunteering opportunities with children with and without disabilities, contributed to non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, and challenged myself to compete in horse riding.

If you could give a message to this year’s Y13 what would it be?

Even if you are not sure what you want to do right now, try reflecting on what is really important and what genuinely makes you happy. Use “modules” like CAS to improve in something you are already passionate about, or start something you think you would love but did not have a chance to do yet. Second, I do think it's important to try in school and be realistic about where you are at. You do not have to love every subject (I don't even think that is possible) but try and engage with it as much as you can. For most degrees universities (if you do want to go to study) do care about some level of consistency with the grades relevant to your chosen course, but they do not have to be perfect (mine certainly weren’t all the way from IGCSE to IB). Last, you can take many paths post IB and it does not have to be university, or it does not have to be university straight away…. but it will never hurt to have a good foundation in academia as well as work, volunteering, art and internships that the IB motivates, for whatever path you choose when you are ready!