The past ten days have been the busiest since I arrived at LSE. No, I’m not talking about the usual workload (essays, dissertation, required readings, job-hunting, existing job, writing!) Actually, the last fortnight has been packed with so many exciting things outside of class, courtesy the LSE’s buffet of public lectures, trainings and talks.
There was a special two-part workshop organised for students in the Organisational Social Psychology program, which trained us on decision-making and group dynamics. Running all day for two successive Saturdays, they were intense and highly demanding, but very insightful. We were about a dozen students and we were thrown together in some very challenging situations. It was amazing how we found ourselves falling prey to the very biases and tendencies that we were studying – you would think that as “psychologists”, we would offer greater resistance. It was a timely reminder to me that none of us are ever truly infallible, no matter how much we study something, and that there is just no substitute for reality.
The two workshops were engaging, no doubt, but they were not the only thing to keep me busy. The last week was also a time to (almost) forget about academics and think purely for the joy of thought. I speak of course, of the LSE Literature Festival, which ran from 24th Feb to 1st March, with this year’s chosen theme of “Space for Thought”. Being a young writer (http://www.amazon.com/Vaishnavi-Ram-Mohan/e/B00F70DVAE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1391636249&sr=1-3), this was something I had anticipated for months. The idea of getting to meet the likes of Tracy Chevalier, Sebastian Faulks and Michael Rosen was enough to send me into “fan-girl” mode. My favourite event was “More Tales from the Two James’” which was a reading of some of the letters of the famous James brothers, William and Henry. This was an event that explored the blurring boundaries between fiction literature and psychology (two of my favourite things) and it was easily one of the most illuminating discussions I’ve ever attended. One of the speakers was Dr. Alex Gillespie, a lecturer from the department of Social Psychology, and his readings of William James left us spellbound, transported to a time when words held the key to the mysteries of the world. Identity, belief, time, space, we found ourselves delving into all these concepts, and loving the ambiguity and complexity. I also went for a talk about “Understanding the Self” which left us all scratching our heads at the end, wondering what exactly the self was.
One of my favourite parts of life at LSE is attending such ‘out-of-class’ talks and workshops, because I feel they help me to think differently and to get a fresh take on things. Even better, many of these talks are followed by drinks receptions which allow us to have lengthy, often philosophical discussions about the world over a glass or two of
wine juice. However, be warned – some of these events can be very specific and require the audience to be very knowledgeable about the subject matter. At one point, in one of the talks, I found myself wondering whether we should have been emailed a reading list prior to attending! So, I would say that before attending a lecture, it is a good idea to read up about the speakers and the subject, lest you find it very highbrow and heavy!
The hardest part of all is deciding which events to attend, and which to give a miss. Some events conflict with classes and some with other events. Not to mention the careers talks and events that are also happening almost every day – where employment beckons, and this, I think this is simultaneously the biggest thrill and the biggest challenge of being at a place like LSE; there is so much going on. You don’t want to miss on anything, but you can’t do everything. Deciding which to go for is like choosing between a double chocolate fudge cake and an ice-cream sundae with chocolate sauce and sprinkles. (Sorry!) In the process, most of us end up doing a little bit of everything. So, maybe a small slice of cake, with one scoop of ice-cream? Or cake today, and ice-cream tomorrow? Mmmmm……