It is said that the friendships nurtured in college are the ones that will exist until the end. There is no doubt that college is an eye-opening experience, particularly at Berkeley. Many come with a handful of old companions, which allows for the transition to college life to become less of a burden. Of course, there are those who leave their comfort zones knowing no one in the new place that they will come to call home. Everything and everyone is new, and thus needs to be paid careful attention to. One particular venture that is undertaken by those new to college is the forming of new bonds with others. As someone who came from a city not located in California, knowing not one soul, everyone that I meet is new to my life. Thankfully, the Unit 1 residence halls had many events planned for people such as myself. I remember on the very first night, after a chaotic afternoon of moving in and getting settled for dormitory life, there was a social called “Cocoa in the Courtyard.” Essentially, the resident associates would provide hot cocoa down in the Unit 1 courtyard for residents who wanted to come and get acquainted with others that lived in the Unit 1 residence halls.
As I approached the throng of people milling about in the courtyard, I became suddenly nervous. However, I walked in to the large group of fellow residents with determination and verve. I caught someone’s eye, and quickly turned to introduce myself. As I stood facing my first new friend in college, the light that reflected from every surface of this person’s body, as well as from every other surface in my range of sight, passed through the pupils of my eyes. My pupils widened and narrowed to control the amount of light that was brought into my eyes. This light then went through the pupil and also the vitreous humor, a clear and jelly-like substance inside of the eyeball. The light struck the retina. Because it was not too dark or dim outside, the cones of the retina were mainly activated, but rods were also activated.
The cornea and lens focused and fine-tuned the light on the retina in order to focus the distances of the objects in my sight, as well as other factors. Because the person I was preparing myself to speak with was within a close distance to where I was standing, my lens became thicker and more round and my eye muscles tightened. Then, ganglion cells, which get their information from bipolar cells, use their axons in the retina to gather information, which leaves the eye from the blind spot, which is the area where the optic nerves goes away from the retina. The data travels through the optic chiasm and on to the visual cortex, in the occipital lobe of the brain, which is pinpointed as the lobe in the back of the brain. From the visual cortex, the information will be coded to process the person whom I was going to meet very quickly, as well as all of the other details of her, and the background to where we were. However, the occipital lobe is not the only part of the brain that is stimulated. Though seemingly unusual, the temporal lobe is also roused. In James W. Kalat’s, Introduction to Psychology¸ Kalat states that the temporal lobe “…is the main area for hearing and some of the complex aspects of vision…one area…responds only to the sight of faces” (Kalat 2008, pg. 81). So, I talk with this stranger, and find out that she, like me, is not from California. She is actually not from the United States at all, but rather, from Thailand. Filled with inquiries, I move to shake hands with my new friend. As I see her bring her hands up from her sides, my perception is challenged. Perception is defined as “the interpretation of that information” (Kalat 2008, pg. 97). “That information” refers to the material gathered in sensation. When my friend swings her hands from their resting place, I recognize that her hand does not actually get physically larger, and I exhibit size constancy, which is the inclination to see objects as keeping their size, though there are certain alterations in the light patterns that reach my retinas. Depth perception is also demonstrated when, unconsciously, my eyes come together a specific distance, and turn in at a particular angle to focus on the “close object” (essentially, my new friend.) My eyes will not be completely parallel, because my acquaintance is at a close distance to me, and the muscles in my eye pull from tension to focus on an object that is close to me. I held conversation with my friend, and bonded over Asian food, the excitement of being at college, and all of the fascinating opportunities that lay ahead for the both of us at Berkeley. In the end, it turned out that she and I both lived on the same floor in the same building. After exchanging numbers and promises to see each other the next day for lunch, we both turned to meet and greet others around us. As she walked away from where I was standing, perception once again played a large role, as size constancy ensured that I knew that my first friend in college was not actually shrinking in size, but was merely just walking further and further away from me.
Kalat, J.W. (2008). Introduction to Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.