A Day in the Northwestern Life

Earlier this fall I gave a sneak peak into various aspects of my initial weeks in college. Today comes the immersive “Day in the Life” feature, which more closely resembles a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel than your typical itinerary. I’ll give insights into what happened on the day of October 30, but also the considerations and calculations that went into determining the schedule and how it felt. Enjoy!

Morning Routine 8:15 A.M.-8:25

I knew it was going to be an impossibly busy day with Frisbee, a Reformed University Fellowship meeting, a newspaper article turn-in, two classes and two work study shifts on the docket, not to mention meals. So to fit in my daily gym workout, I planned to go early in the morning, something I’d never done before during the school year. And, predictably, I didn’t do it on this day, as I chose to turn off the alarm and scratch out some more sleep before finally crawling out of bed at 8:15. I slapped on some clothes, gathered my school supplies and headed down the stairs from my third-floor dorm room to start off the day.

Breakfast 8:40-8:50

I keep the blinds on my dorm room closed, so the weather is usually a surprise when I step outside, and an unpleasant one at that. Today was your typical Chicago fall weather — a gloomy 40 degrees and wet.

Once I step outside of my South Campus dorm, I make my way up the campus to Sargent Dining Hall, right next to the main campus gym, all the way on North Campus. Weeks of trial and error had helped me develop out the best, most efficient route to and from Sargent, which had become the location of choice for my breakfast meals as well as occasional lunches and post-workout dinners. Sargent has a lot going for it — unusually big bowls for my oatmeal, the best desserts and a lot of space. Today, I opt for my regular oatmeal as well as my regular banana and a nice glass of chocolate milk.

Logic 9-9:50

Most college students would have a much later start to the day than 8 in the morning, but I decided to take logic for the Fall Quarter and its Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9-9:50 schedule dictated that I would need to be a relatively early riser. Located super close to Sargent on North Campus, the class is my most intellectually stimulating (translation: confusing), though I feel somewhat in control in the lecture hall rapidly filling up my notebook with pages of notes. I have a good group of friends I’ve made in the class to chat about the lectures and at times commiserate, and the class is my shortest of the week. 

After class, I make the trek back down to my dorm on South Campus. The Northwestern campus is a north-south strip of land along Lake Michigan that’s about a mile long. I walk back and forth multiple times a day, which can be an inconvenience but also has its benefits. I’m always close to my daily step goal of 12,000 with all of the travel, and the campus itself is pretty aesthetically interesting. A lot of times, I see new things in the same buildings or vistas around campus. Like today, I pass the student hub by the lake and find that it resembles a castle from a children’s story, like Lord Farqaad’s castle from Shrek.

It’s not the only one — Tech looks pretty menacing as well.

And don’t forget this one…

Oh wait, that is Lord Farqaad’s castle.

Anyway, I stop back at my dorm to grab my laptop for the first of my two work study sections for the day. I have 25 minutes in between the end of class and the start of work study, and after subtracting the 10 minute commute from North to South and the five minutes it takes to get situated at my job (located at Medill, the building directly bordering my dorm), I get about 10 solid minutes of dorm time. I will be back later.

Work Study 10:15-12:15

I walk across a little street and here I am, ready for my work study job in Medill Student Services. The gig has been a great fit, not in the least because of the location (though that has its perks). It’s also been a cool way to get involved inside the Medill School of Journalism, the name I’d heard as a gold standard of journalism going back to my first years of high school. Today, I help set up for information sessions for prospective students, as well as chat with the other work study students a bit about the performance of comedian Eric Andre on campus the previous night (the subject of my event story for journalism class). 

The two-hour section was one of four blocks of work-study hours I had during the week. Though it undoubtedly busied up my day, I liked plugging holes between classes in my schedule so that I’d have the evening hours flexible and productive.

Lunch 12:15-1

Hungry and ready for lunch, I unexpectedly meet up with my dorm buddy and fellow journalism major Harrison Larner to eat a meal at the nearby dining hall, Allison, on South Campus. Along with two upperclassmen from our dorm, we indulge in a meal at a table at the center of the spacious, multi-floor dining facility, which was packed to the brim with other hungry students. My plate is loaded with freshly steamed broccoli, mandarin oranges, actual oranges, orange juice (I’m sensing a trend) and garlic bread. We talk about different aspects of campus life, which is to say the Eric Andre performance, as well as learning about the experience about the upperclassmen. Lunch is always a solid way to decompress during the busy workday, and given the proximity of the dining hall to my own dorm and Medill, as well as the fact that all freshman journalism classes start at one, I’m fortunate to almost always have a familiar face to decompress with.

Journalism 1-2:20

Once my lunch break had come to a close, I travel back across Chicago Avenue to Medill, where my Reporting and Writing Class meets for the lab section. Today’s class objective is covering our section’s portion of the 2020 Presidential Election, which happens to be the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden, and creating a presentation for the journalism lecture on Biden’s campaign and its portrayal in the media. The start of class also marks the due date of a separate assignment, the story proposal for our main project of the quarter, the enterprise story. Combined with the Daily Northwestern article I had due later that day and the post-Eric Andre interviews I’d conducted the previous night, I certainly have my fair share of journalism work over the 24-hour span. After class, I descend down two flights of stairs and arrived back at my work-study office, ready for another couple hours on the grind. 

Workout 5:20-5:50

I finish my work-study shift at 5 and found an apple lying around, and having not eaten in a while, I take a bite out of it and am a little bit surprised to see that the inside was pink. I still eat it, though. I was chewing on a different thing a couple minutes later — my jacket zipper, as I braved the wind gusts of Lake Michigan in my perilous journey to reach North Campus and the main gym, Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. The lakefill, a little pond-like area that feeds off Lake Michigan, looks a sick shade of green, as if a sea serpent were about to emerge at any moment. My coat and headphones help me endure the trek, and it turns out to be a worthwhile one. 

My workout for today is an upper body-centric workout, though I usually try to incorporate multiple focuses in my weight room training (shout out to high school P.E. for teaching me the ways of the weight room — great class). I’ve developed a plan that rotates on a three day cycle, and the main free-weight lift today is called the power clean. It’s something that sounds like it should be happening in my dorm room, and, yes, it should, but in this instance it requires the lifter to hold the bar around the knees, then bend the knees and explode up, while jerking up the bar. The rep ends with the lifter catching the bar in a crouched position, with elbows underneath the bar’s location. It’s a trapezius-based lift that I’ve never been great at but definitely want to improve upon. 

Also recorded in my “Finess” log (I shaded in the “T”) are forward arm lifts with dumbbells, lat pulldowns with a bar (the lone machine exercise) and good old-fashioned pull-ups. One of the biggest changes I’ve made in the recent weeks is listening to podcasts, and ESPN Baseball Tonight’s World Series recap is the entertainment of choice for this lift, hours before Game 7 of the World Series commences between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

Newspaper Turn In 6:30-7:30

I waddle back to my dorm, take a quick shower and change into a nice quarter-zip sweater for my newspaper turn-in and, later, first RUF Bible Study. Today’s editing process, which typically entails two rounds of edits in the newsroom on the top floor of the student center, takes longer than expected, as I arrive just after a 1,800-word football column came in. All of the words in the phrase “after a 1,800-word football column” mean one thing – it could be a long wait. 

It’s not an eternal one, thankfully. Substitute editor Greg gives helpful edits on passive voice in the first round, but a big gap between the first and second rounds of edits starts to worry me. I don’t want to be late to the RUF meeting, which is off-campus, but I also don’t want to mess with the system. Ultimately, I explain my situation and the editors give me the green light to go to the meeting. I bolt out of the newsroom and student center and across campus, laptop bag in hand. 

RUF Meeting/Dinner 7:30-9

The RUF meeting is nice and a change of pace from the rest of my wild day. The freshman bible study is held at the home of RUF’s leader, Chris, and about 15 freshmen are in attendance for the talk on Ephesians. Funny story — I’d found out a couple weeks earlier that Chris had been an intern at my church two years prior, lending credence to the whole “small-world” mantra. The conversation itself is a cool one, concerning the importance of the law and our identities in Biblical as well as academic contexts. I am glad I went, and the walk back to my dorm with my friend Harrison is a peaceful one.

Frisbee 9-11

After RUF I make an executive decision — I’m skipping frisbee. One, it’s been a hectic day. Two, practice isn’t mandatory. Three, I’ve worked out a couple hours earlier. But best of all, and most obvious in hindsight, World Series Game 7. So I find myself back at my dorm midway through the game. My roommate Daniel is watching Houston play Washington in basketball, as well as Houston playing Washington in baseball, with more interest in the former. 

The Astros, the team I’m rooting for to knock off my hometown team (but hated rival), hold a 2-0 lead in the decisive game, but shortly after I tune in, the lead is cut down. Each inning it gets worse. In the seventh, Nat Anthony Rendon hits a home run to half the lead; a couple batters later, Howie Kendrick blasts a shot to give Washington the lead. The Nationals pad the lead in the eighth and ninth, making the impossible a valid question — can the Nats, a Wild Card team that had never even won a playoff series leading up to this season, actually hold on to beat the supposed dynasty of the 2010s and win the World Series?  I know that the excited Marylanders I know back home want to think so, and I know I don’t want to think so. After Daniel and I react animatedly to the homer, one of our neighbors knocks on the door and joins us for the final outs. 

In the final inning, I know that the Nationals are going to pull it off. I’m not a fan of Washington sports teams at all, but I’ll give them their nice moment—- they’ve had plenty of rough ones over the years. 

Winding Down 11-12

In all, it was a pretty busy, productive and cold day in Evanston, Illinois. I did a lot of stuff, didn’t do other stuff, tried new things, repeated some habits, saw things I’d never seen before, saw things I thought I’d seen in Shrek and completed yet another day in the life of a Northwestern student. I sat in my dorm room, watching the celebration continued for the jubilant Nats, and the end of the incredible baseball season that coincided with the end of a long day. 

Outside (and just beyond my closed blinds), the first snow falls on Northwestern’s campus. A new day in the life of a Northwestern student nears.

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