A Day in the Life: Jen

A Day in the Life: Jen

In this blog, I want to take you through a day in my life as a Caltech student. My daily routine has varied greatly since I arrived. In high school, I used to wake up early in the morning to run and play tennis; upon arriving at Caltech my freshman year, my wake-up time quickly shifted back to the 10-11am time range. Now that I’m a senior who has more of her life together, I’ve begun to start my day early again so that I can get a jumpstart. There’s nothing like waking up to the California sunshine and to feel the crisp morning air on your face.

I start the day off with a run around Pasadena. The neighborhood is quite safe and I try to avoid parts of the road that don’t have sidewalks to reduce the danger of passing cars. Some people enjoy running along the more developed parts of Pasadena with stores and apartment buildings. I prefer jogging in the residential areas, which tend to be more quiet and offer a nice view of the beautiful houses and greenery in the nearby area as well.

I come back from my run and rinse off. After this, I do some work before I head to breakfast. Everyone is different, but I enjoy starting work in the mornings so I’ve gotten something done before I go to classes for the day. My first and only class is at 1pm today. My pre-breakfast task is to send out some emails and start working on a problem set for a class.

At 10am, I head out to grab breakfast with a friend. We decide to go to Broad Cafe, where they offer nutella berry toast before the lunchtime rush begins. Most people at Caltech tend to wake up around this time, which is why I decided to do some work after my run instead of grabbing breakfast by myself. My friend decides to also get a nutella berry toast and we enjoy a nice breakfast together.

I’m one of the captains of the women’s tennis team at Caltech and we have small group practices today. Normally, team practice is from 4pm-6pm, which is designated practice time for athletes on campus. Today, we do small groups instead, in which we separate into smaller groups so we can work on more specific parts of our game. I’m in the 11am-1pm group, which consists of a few other teammates. Playing tennis has been an enormous part of my Caltech experience; it’s where I’ve met my greatest friends and had some of my best memories. It’s nice to get a break from academics and school life through exercise, so I thoroughly enjoy going out for practice during the day to have some fun and to break a sweat.

It’s finally 1pm, and my class is here – except this class is a long 3 hour lab from 1pm-4pm. I’m taking Bi1x this term, normally taken by freshmen. I need a biology lab prerequisite as a pre-med student, which is why I decided to take this course. However, it’s known as one of the coolest classes at Caltech, and our lab today teaches us how to perform a restriction digest and gel electrophoresis. I also get the chance to work with E. coli bacteria, all novel experiences for me, a CS major. My lab partner and I grind out the lab efficiently and get to finish a little bit before the official end of class.

I finally get the chance to shower off my sweat from tennis practice and relax for a bit before I have a meeting with the Hixon Writing Center (HWC) at 4:30pm. The HWC is hands-down one of the most amazing resources at Caltech and has helped me write every type of essay imaginable. I’ve sought help for nearly every essay I’ve written for a humanities class at Caltech and even gotten feedback on scholarship essays, some of which I ultimately won. Today, I’m working on some of my essays for the upcoming medical school application cycle. It’s helpful to talk through my ideas and thoughts with an experienced professional, and setting up meetings with someone else also keeps me accountable for producing a reasonable amount of work over a prolonged period of time, instead of cramming everything at the last minute.

My writing center appointment ends around 5:30pm and I head out to grab dinner with some friends from the tennis team. During regular practice days, we normally go straight to dinner after practice ends, but on small group days, I try to be more intentional and reach out to have a meal with other people. We decide on eating at Chandler and I get a burger and fries from the grill, with some pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.

After dinner, I settle down for my weekly call back home. I enjoy talking to my family, even though I really only have time for a video call once a week. Once the call ends, I start on the rest of my work, with the intention of heading to a friend’s room later to collaborate on some of the questions.

At around 11pm, I get hungry and head over to Red Door to grab some nachos for a late night snack. Since it’s still the beginning of term, I don’t have too much work and thus don’t have to go to sleep too late. I normally head to bed at around 1/2am and wake up again the next morning for my run. Every day is a little different with small exciting things, but I’m glad to have settled into a general rhythm here on campus. I hope you enjoyed getting a small glimpse into my daily life here as a Techer!