Hello and welcome to the Big Five podcast from Northumbria psychology department. My name is Dr. Genavee Brown, and I'll be your guide into the minds of psychology students, alumni, and researchers at Northumbria University. I'm a lecturer and a researcher in the psychology department. And each week on this podcast, I'll speak to a guest who is either a student, alumni or researcher in the Northumbria psychology department. By asking them five big questions, we'll learn about their time studying psychology, and hopefully learn some big facts about human behavior and experience. Today, I have the pleasure of speaking to my guest, Kristians Nemkovics. So Kristians started at Northumbria in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic as a psychology student, and is specializing in business and leadership. And he's going to talk today about his experience as a student during COVID 19. So just to start with Kristians, why did you decide to study psychology?
Well, in my personal life, I found that many problems could be easily fixed by proper communication. And that kind of sparked my interest that oh, you know, many problems that are quite, quite complex, yet. They're reasonable approaches that you can employ to fix them. But, among other things, I did already find various research, really interesting. So that the combination of these factors, the the fact that I'm interested in research, the fact that there are practical solutions that I can implement in my own personal life would be really beneficial in long term in any case,
and what has it been like studying psychology at Northumbria specifically? Because you started in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, after you started, we had a lockdown. So what's that been like as a student?
It's yeah, as you mentioned, it's it's it should have been quite unique because first I had to travel across half of Europe to get to UK to study to pursue higher education. And then pandemic was in progress, lock downs in progress, and the situation did seemingly just keep getting worse, especially when you castle became a hotspot for new cases. And when I realized that this was going to continue for quite a while, I knew that some serious structural changes on how I study on globaly my day had to be made, because circumstances were usual, pinpoint the moment where I actually decided to embark on this journey to kind of change my approach to my routine. And in the first few climatization weeks where we kind of are given advice by lecturers informing how I like to approach this, this unique circumstances, what tips they have regarding our work study at night life balance night by bones. And, you know, these, these kinds of suggestions, they did seem kind of obvious at first. And I know that from my own experience, all these things, you think, oh, okay, yeah, I have, I should have proper routine, sleep hygiene, etc. But I always found find, found those things quite difficult to implement, but stick with them, you know, to kind of integrate them properly in your life. However, our one study that was mentioned kind of stood out from the others. It was one where they mentioned that after 20 Students work more than 20 hours a week that their work gained priority and students gain the grades started to plummet. And I was curious, why is it so because, you know, 20 hours is quite, quite arbitrary. And I mean, you could argue that obviously, if you're preoccupied with something else such as work, it will have an obvious effect on your work life balance, but it wait 20 hours, you know, it's, it's, it was quite it just sparked my curiosity and then I embarked on this journey to find which other things are these pillars that are really important for you to succeed in your studies. And so it happened that for these three things that I could really change for the better, which were sleep routine, and procrastination, which I'm really fond of. And I thought that, you know, the most monumental thing is sleep. I mean, one anecdote that I have is that I had this all nighter that I needed to study, and there was a fire alarm, we need to go out from recommendation. And I had kind of Red Bull in my hand. And I realized it's three in the night, and I'm writing about importance of sleep. And I thought that no, this is this is the start to take this properly. And for a while, I had various types of issues regarding sleep, like insomnia, or going to chemistry test, half asleep, I don't know what grades they're really. And I recall that it see on YouTube, one video where this guy was reviewing different kinds of army training, be Delta Force or your Marines, what have you. And I was obviously curious, what's happening in Latvia, in my own country, what kind of training do we have, which is different. And we, our Special Forces, guys, they, they had to earn their sleep by recalling small points, which is quite traditional to save points and, and do the small maths tests. And when they did learn the poem, or
do do these math tasks, they earn a few more minutes of sleep, until muscle, and oh, that's, that's quite demanding if you're exhausted, and you have to do these tasks. But there could be something to it, because when you're grumpy in the morning, I call it monkey brain. Now, your, your, your basic human instinct is to say, oh, you know, five more minutes, or I've burned it all, today is going to be a cheat day. And it's, I think it's the initial thing that kind of sets off your healthy sleep balance. And if I could kind of switch on my rational brain that says, oh, you know, this is the time you really need to wake up, we have many things to do in the morning, then you could just fix it. And what I started to do was, I had this alarm that kind of represented the same tasks that these special forces guys need to do. So to stop it from bringing and you couldn't just turn off your phone because this was alarm for me, you know, I'm a heavy sleeper. And I had to finish these summative tests of three, two number digits. I I just fixed my sleep 14. i When I wake up, I felt energized on country of me feeling groggy. So I thought, Well, this was interesting test, you know, now, no, I thought I was always a late night studying type of guy. And I hate waking up in mornings, and geeking out and waking up at five to an energized to everything I need to do in the morning. And I'm really good today.
Yeah, that's so interesting. It's amazing how those habits can form I've seen alarm clocks as well where it's like a puzzle and all the pieces get thrown across the room and you have to go pick them up to kind of force you to get out of bed.
Yeah, exactly that like there are so many things that you can simply implement in your your routine that kind of works so well. And they change massively how your brain works in the mornings. And then I realized that you know, there's their second thing that you need to tackle it's routine, because okay, you you get your proper sleep, you feel energized. You fix this major issue, but routine, well, you really need proper one because if you don't, you can have decent sleep cycle, but you still are not gonna progress properly throughout the day because you don't have this energy and to fix up the routine I thought, well, you know, let's, let's see our biology module, what do we have about that, you know, the chemistry stuff. And what kind of sparked my attention was the fact that want it or not, despite how big your motivation could be, if you don't have proper chemistry balance, it will be quite difficult for you to succeed. And to get these necessary chemicals. One of the useful thing against kind of sadness, signs of depression, what have you is working out, okay, working out. But you know, I have friends who say, I can't work out, I don't have time. You know, most of the time, it's quite reasonable thing to say. But I am interested, I was interested for quite a while into business kinds of things into marketing. And one interesting thing is that, in marketing, many things are based on the fact that you can make a business on the fact that it's convenient for others, for example, Uber, right. In previously, you needed to dial up the number, maybe find a taxi for the city, and then call it up. For food, you need to go to the shops. Now we have UberEATS, Uber for taxi, what, whatever. And I thought Why couldn't I implement these kinds of ideas in, in a thing, such as my routine, you know, just eliminate all the unnecessary things that make it more complex and more difficult for me to implement. So what, what I did was, kind of take these ideas from business interest, and apply it in real life. So I had problem with breakfast. And I knew that everyone is saying, Oh, it's really important to important, I have some kind of breakfast. You know, it just, I can't eat proper food in the morning, I have to make them you know, it takes more time in morning. Now I wake up at five, I have nothing to do. You could make breakfast. But the hand I still don't want. And I'll just make it really convenient. I won't maybe make bacon next. But I'll make this kind of drink. Okay, the smoothie thing. And when I started to drink in the mornings, I felt energized, and I didn't feel exhausted full the the feeling I was afraid of breakfast would give me mornings. For example, working out, you know, many complained that they don't have time and I thought well, I don't have to make a time constraint. I can, I don't need to follow a specific kind of workout routine. It No. I mean, we all had physical education. So why couldn't I just implement the one of my favorite things, you know, push ups, and squats. really beneficial things really easy to do very quick. And from few pushups, you go to 100. And you have a goal. Not only do you have goal, that goal is convenient for you to do, it's quick, it doesn't take more than 30 minutes in the morning. Again, if you wake up at five, you can experiment and these kinds of things that just show me that there's so many things that you can change that are getting just more and more convenient, more and more implementable.
And why not? Why not benefit from all the other disciplines that you have interests in and exploit the fact them facts that are already established? For example, in business, you know, how how negotiation for example. Again, going back to monkey brain, you need these chemicals, you need these basic kinds of structures for you to properly function. But if you're a bad worker, and you're even worse boss, you always kind of expect from yourself a lot and you don't treat yourself for once in a while. Your expectations are either too big or unbalanced. It's just unhealthy. So negotiates thing with yourself. I found really important too. Because if you can negotiate with yourself and you can be With a boss, then you as an employee will be happy.
Yeah, I think it's really interesting. It sounds like you did a lot of kind of soul searching and figure out what you needed for yourself, what kind of routines and activities would work for you. And you applied the knowledge that you've learned from your psychology courses to really improve your life?
Yeah, I think I mean, many, many students are surprised by the fact that, oh, you have stats, oh, we need to do lab reports. And souls at first, of course. But if you can extract this knowledge and apply it in your life, and, importantly, not self diagnose you with every honest, you're learning everything, there are many things that are beneficial. And possibly, they won't just happen overnight, you won't be like, oh, yeah, this this thing I need to implement, oh, I'll do that. But this soul searching is really important for everyone, of course. But the way to do it properly is, I think, really important, because if you don't have these pillars on which face your hypotheses and experiment, what works for you, that you assume won't ever be a
problem? I guess my next question is, what's the most exciting or surprising thing that you've learned? While you've been studying psychology? Has there been anything that really you weren't expecting? Or that you really enjoyed?
Oh, well, the scientific method just blew me away, because? Well, I did in school, we did talk about scientific method. Yeah, this is how it works. But here, like in universities, I think it's on another level and kind of integrity that you have to have for your studies, or the ethics, it needs to be in the proper order. And that it's, it's really rational, why it's why it's so important. Just you never really think that universe, think of all these elements that come together to form this rational, really fact based research, these, these, these, these things that you need to follow. And at the end of the lab report, or any study, you have this, this kind of essence, of concentrated knowledge that can contribute to the bigger picture, be it supporting or not truly important, and the only thing that you are implying, is the discussion that you're saying, oh, you know, this, it could indicate this, but I'm not obviously entirely sure. But this could be the case. That's my hypothesis. And, yeah, another thing is like, how tied biology is to our psychology, it's kind of the link is just so strong. And another thing was that many debates in psychology, they do kind of stop at nature versus nurture. But not all. curious why so because it doesn't make sense for many debates to be nature versus nurture, because it's quite difficult for us to, you know, draw a line. And the studies with twins. I find it exceptionally interesting, because the kinds of kind of gives us the ability to see different different circumstances and how seemingly same person fares in these different circumstances. And these are the things that just blew my mind. Yeah.
Awesome. Yeah, twin studies are very interesting. That's when we look at two twins who are genetically identical. And oftentimes, we look at them when they've been raised in separate households. And that helps us tease apart what behaviors are due to genetics, if those twins still share those behaviors? Or if they don't, they might be like to socialization, or things in the environment that influence those. So yes, they're definitely fascinating. So Christians, where do you hope to go from here? Do you have any plans for your research or career?
Well, I have wondered about occupational psychology because I have this business module. And I found that there are so many things that are optimizable. And yet, many employers, businesses, they just like the knowledge that, you know, it could be a win win, because in business when when principle is that everyone benefits is really important yet you often think of your employees that they could gain from Win win and you win. because if the employee is really happy and excited, the turnover is really low, the retention is high, their productivity is much higher than it could ever be. And everyone benefits from it. And yet, not many businesses are aware that it's the possibility, they are aware of many other things related to, like practical, you know, things, but not really the fundamental human factor, which is, you know, businesses are made of humans. And if you can increase productivity, it's, it's incredible. So, so kind of that direction would be of interest for me.
Yeah, it sounds like that would marry your two interests quite nicely. And just before we go, do you have any advice for other students maybe who are just starting their degree? Maybe an advice for students who are studying from home or who are on distance learning programs? How did you have so much success when, you know, you weren't studying on campus, and when you were developing that routine that you've told us
about? First thing, if you're distance learning, or, and you can't attend campus, it's to maybe mentally have these lines in your room, because if you have just one room, many common rooms, do utilize all of them. Because your basic brain, it's quite simple. It will really thank you that you have dedicated space for Thanks for working out for a free time. And not just, you know, watch Netflix in your bed. And at the same time. Because many things that seem are seemingly simple, are yet we just don't really think through it, and don't implement it. Because oftentimes, we fail. And it's fine to fail. But most importantly is to is to follow up on your failure. And continue, continue with the better baseline. Because in long term, you might fail 50 times, but 51st, maybe it will be the last time you failed, you know, and you might have days, where you feel like, oh, you know, I need to have a cheat day on anything, even you know, not not studying. And it's absolutely fine. Just taking care of yourself, as your student that wants to kind of increase the productivity. Be a good boss, be a good boss, take care of yourself. Be understanding of your own needs. Know all the all the tricks in the book, prepare, and you can do anything with that. Yeah.
Yeah, I think that's great, what you said about failure. Because even though we might think of it as a failure, it's a chance to learn, right? And then once we learn why that thing is so difficult for us to do, then we can try and break down those barriers and make it easier for ourselves in the future.
Yeah. And students, they shouldn't be afraid of failure, because in the long term, if you would look at your productivity graph, you know, you might have dips, but it's still going up. It always is, and at the end of your third year of study, and who knows what's going to happen, Master masters, you will have the best lab for two ever written best grades. Because although you've failed many times these failures, yes, they gained you experience but more importantly, they gave you confidence, confidence to fail again, fail again, and be better.
Well, thank you so much Christians. Where can people find you online?
Well, you can find me on LinkedIn on or just write me an email. I'm always ready to implement hacks from other people, because that's how you learn. You take all the best bits that other more smart people have discovered, and you try them out. And when you have this gem, you add it to your collection is easier life.
Excellent. Well, thank you again. listeners. If you'd like to learn more about Northumbria psychology, check out our psychology department blog at Northumbria psy.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at Northumbria P S Y. If you'd like to learn more about the podcast and stay up to date on episodes, you can follow me on Twitter at Brown Genavee. We're also now streaming on Spotify. If you'd like to be interviewed on the podcast or know someone who would please email me at Genavee dot Brown at Northumbria dot ac.uk Finally, if you'd like podcasts, make sure to subscribe on your listening app and give us a review and rating. I hope you've learned something on this voyage into the mind. Take care till next time