Studying Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL – Artemis

Studying Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL – Artemis

Hello fellow psychology students!

We interviewed our friend Artemis Stefani – University of Cyprus Psychology graduate, Member
Representatives Officer here at EFPSA, and current Cognitive Neuroscience Master’s student at University College London, UK. She was sweet enough to let us take a peek at her life in London, studying the brain, and she even shared some tips for getting into top universities!
Keep reading!

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Why cognitive neuroscience?
During my high school years I was reading psychology books of general interest. When I started to get deeper and deeper, I realised that I was more interested in topics of neuropsychology and less in topics of social psychology. I thought: “Yes! That is what I want to do”, I just didn’t really know the name of what was that. But during my Bachelor’s degree, I found out – cognitive neuroscience, yeah, that’s what interests me!What are the topics that interest you the most?
I am interested in research involving the frontal lobes and executive functions. It really fascinates me. From a clinical perspective, I mostly like cognition in schizophrenia. Moreover, I am interested in sleep studies, the default mode network, and research in plasticity and the brain.
When and why did you decide that you wanted to apply to UCL?
I decided it about one and a half year before I graduated. After tracking all European programmes in neuroscience, I decided that UCL was the ideal one, though there were some other great options out there (specifically in the Netherlands). However, I preferred a one-year master programme, because I wanted to quickly move into acquiring a PhD after that. Plus, every module seemed awesome! But it was also terrifying since UCL is among the top institutions for neuroscience. So, I was pretty sure that there were not so many good chances that I could get in.What does the application process look like?
It does not have an interview for the particular Master’s program, for some reason, while other Master’s programmes have. Basically, you fill in an online application form and you have to send your Curriculum Vitae and personal statement; you get the notification some time after of what your status is but the really stressing part is filling out the application and clicking “Submit”. I think it took me around 40 minutes to actually click the Submit button haha!
Do you like studying there?
I love it! It is as I wanted it to be. However, I was expecting professors to be very distant, but they are actually open and encourage us to talk to them, and seek for assistance if we need. And the environment is also positive among classmates.Are there any differences in studying in UK compared to study experience in Cyprus?
There are a lot, I can say, but not in a bad way. University of Cyprus is smaller, University College London is very big, and not only in size, but also in years. Then it’s the different language; and there is also a difference between Bachelor’s and Master’s level. In Bachelor’s, everyone is more helpful in a sense where they tell you when you have to do something and how, whereas in Master’s is not exactly like that, which is fine.Are there many internationals studying at UCL?
Yes. Many, many internationals! They told us that in our course, there are 28 different nationalities out of just 40 people.

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Do you like living in London? Have you been there before?
I have been here twice before and I have liked it from the very start! The pace is really fast here, but I think it took me around one week to start adjusting  when I moved here and then it was fine 🙂What are some ups and downs of living in London?
Hmm. The positive thing is that you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want. There are unlimited choices of what you want and can do. You can do everything. The negative is that everything is really expensive. But it is really fantastic how you can get from the one part of the city to another in a small amount of time.

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When you are not studying, how do you spend your time?
When I am not studying I am doing EFPSA work, but when I am not doing EFPSA work and really have free time, I go out with friends in the city; I would go for a coffee, or a drink, or a walk around the city to get to know it better.What are some of your favourite places in London?
I really like Covent Garden, it is an amazing area. Everything is so magical there – the lights, the buildings, it is like a fairytale sometimes. I think I haven’t explored much of London yet, and I’ve promised to myself that I’m gonna visit one area that I haven’t visited yet every weekend so that I get to know it better and explore new cool places.
Can you see yourself staying in UK or would you like to move back to Cyprus one day?
I think that I can see myself living in London. I do like it here, I feel very comfortable and would like to develop here. The environment is really motivating for me and I think it suits my way of living more. However, I see myself going back to Cyprus at some point; but you actually can never know or plan how things can turn out in the end.

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Do you have any advice for someone who wants to apply to UCL?
If you want to get in UCL or any other good institution, then I would suggest to volunteer a lot. It really matters. If you want to get into research, then try to get some research experience. It’s not only about having great grades, but a good combination of academic performance and extra-curricular activities. They usually don’t mention such thing in their applications but it is considered as an essential in my opinion. Oh, and save money!

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