Northwestern Day in the Life: Sophomore Edition

A year ago, I wrote a “Day in the Life” feature about a random fall Wednesday. Though I am back at school now, a day in my life looks very different now than it did 12 months ago, and I figured it was time for an update. This year’s edition, recorded on Wednesday, September 23rd, will pull back the curtain on my busy schedule, but also give insights into the aspects of life that are unique to the university’s current quarantine mode. Enjoy!

8:15 AM — Wake up and take a shower

My alarm clock blares at 8:15 sharp. I take a step off my bed and shut it off, rest for five more minutes and then get up for the day. One look out the double window and I can tell it’s going to be another bright, 75-degree day in Evanston. While I also woke up at 8:15 at this time last year, it’s for a very different reason. Instead of a 9 AM class, I don’t have a Wednesday class until 3 PM. My motive this time is my previously scheduled gym appointment. It’s pretty brilliant — I get myself to wake up early by setting an early appointment that carries serious repercussions if I miss it. Either way, I wake up ready to go for what should be a fun day.

8:30 AM — Oatmeal breakfast

After a quick shower, I run down the four floors of my residential hall to grab milk for my bowl of oatmeal, which I take to my room to eat. My three-year-old dorm is infinitely nicer than my last, with a spacious double-sized room, hotel-quality bathrooms and all sorts of amenities (more on that later). Another change is the COVID-related rules, which include wearing a mask to the bathroom and anywhere else outside my room. Once I finish breakfast, I slide on my Bane facemask, slip on my headphones, turn on some tunes and head north for a mile walk to the gym.

9:15 AM — Start workout

To get in for my gym appointment, I scan my card at the desk and flash an app screen confirming the absence of symptoms and clearance for campus facilities. Once I’m in, I know exactly where to go. I work on a three-day cycle and today’s the third day, my experimental day. This includes a half-dozen exercises that target muscle groups that my primary five free weight lifts and machine lifts do not work out, and has much more flexibility than the previous two days. Today’s exercises, as recorded in my fitness journal, include my daily pull-ups and newbies deltoid fly, tricep raise, dumbbell overhead press and side twists — pretty arm-heavy, but not too intensive. I’m joined by about five other students in the oddly vacant, extra-sanitized weight room, and with my headphones in and juices flowing, it’s a pretty good way to start off my Wednesday. 

10 AM — Walk along Lake Michigan

Along with my fitness goal, I have a 12,000-step goal to hit. The next part of my routine is my walk back and, instead of going back along Chicago Avenue, my way back is along the lakefront path. The mile stretch is fantastic, with the sun peering over Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline on the horizon. The best part? Having the football team practice as an attraction on the side of the trail opposite the lake. The Cats are always going through their drills when I finish my gym sessions, and, while I have no idea what’s going on and definitely shouldn’t, the practice sessions may be the only live action I see of Northwestern football all season.

10:50 AM — Meet up with Harrison

Following a post-workout shower, I head over to my old dorm across the street and meet up with my buddy Harrison, who is in the area. One reason for the visit is to pick up the bike he stored in the dorm over the summer, but we also fit in a good hour of football throwing on the lawn of Bienen, the highly renowned music school. My legs are feeling it from squats earlier in the week and 70 percent speed is my max, but we get in a couple good throws and I film him trying a couple onside kicks for an upcoming video. It doesn’t get better tossing the pigskin with Chicago as a backdrop. Once we’re done playing football and retrieving the bike, we head back to my dorm to hang out in the “egg chairs” in the basement for a good while.

12:30 PM — Get lunch

After bidding farewell to Harrison, I ascend back up the stairs back to my room (and finish off my step goal). I came into the school year with the mentality that I needed my room to be fun enough to be bearable for a lot of isolation during the fall quarter. Well, I can put an emphatic check mark next to that box. Instead of my initial idea of getting a carpet to fill space, I bought a nine-foot putting green. Instead of posters, I put up a row of eight sports jerseys, with more waiting in the wings in my designated jersey closet. Can I get work done? Yes. But can I also have a good time? For sure. The room also functions as my cafeteria, and after lounging around for a half-hour I walk to the dining hall conveniently located across the sidewalk and fill my purple container with an assortment of lunch foods. 

1:45 — Hang out in room, work on Coast to Coast

The next couple hours are pretty relaxed. The small bit of work I get done is on the script of Coast to Coast, the five-minute sports commentary show that I co-host with John Volk, who is currently living in Seattle. Each episode, we tackle four different sports stories from across the nation, and we’re hoping our premiere is a banger. The show is for 8 in the Box Productions, a multi-platform media company that seven of my friends and I are launching, and this weekly show should be a key piece of our start.

3 PM — Journalism Class

3 marks my first and only class of the day, Media Law and Ethics. I enjoy the class for its relevant topic matter, but also having four of my friends scattered across the Zoom screen. Today, I even get to work with one. In a simulation about copyright law, our professor divides us into three-person groups, either covering the copyright violation victim or Northwestern University. Then, two groups join a breakout room to negotiate a settlement. I’m on the victim’s side, and when I get placed in the negotiation room, I’m sitting on the opposite side of the virtual table from Patrick Andres, the resident Browns fan. As he said later, “when John entered the room, I knew I was gonna have to pay money.” I addressed all of the victim’s grievances, but when the other group asked what we wanted, I came up with a random number — $1,000 dollars. The other group agreed, and in texting with other groups I realized we had a steal of a deal.

My desk

Our professor called us back in and asked for examples of settlements. In front of 60 virtual students, I raised my hand and proudly announced our princely sum. All of my friends were giggling, while the professor was thoroughly confused with our very basic upfront settlement. I think he was impressed with our negotiating skills.

4:20 PM — Work Study 

Right after my class Zoom ends, I shift to work-study mode for an hour. My shift consists of a couple transition-type tasks, including coming up with a fall work-study goal and emailing other faculty members who head the projects that I will be working on. With so few work-study jobs available, I am thrilled to be working with Medill again and for a great work-study team.

5:50 PM — Get dinner

The end of my workday begets a trip to the dining hall to pick up my dinner. I load up with a fruity and carb-laden meal and then head to Norris Student Center by the lake, where I eat my dinner at a table outdoors on the second-story. The seat has a fantastic view of the pond and lake and is a welcome reprieve from the confines of my dorm room.

6:40 PM — Sit at lake

Once dinner is complete, I walk down the stairs to ground level and take a walk back around the lakefront trail. I take one lap and then sit down on a bench to watch the fountains and listen to the Ocean’s Eleven soundtrack. Suffice it to say, my step count was very high, while my stress level was all the way chilled. You gotta enjoy those 70 degree sunsets, because as a second-year Evanston resident, they don’t stay around for long.

7:30 PM — Film Coast 2 Coast

The big task of the night is filming the premiere episode of Coast 2 Coast. We don’t have too much planned out, so a good chunk of the episode is spent writing and rehearsing our respective monologues. There are mistakes, and we know that it is rough at the start, but the show has a strong foundation and should only get better in the weeks to come. I opine on the crazy NBA playoffs and the abundance of TV options, while John Volk tackles college football’s start and the recent Seahawks-Patriots bout. I love being able to connect with my friends, who are spread throughout the US, and share our passion for sports journalism in something that might not take off immediately, but provides both fun and experience in the field and plenty of laughs.

9 PM — HW/NBA

My night wraps up with a reading for my poetry class as well as a bedside viewing of the Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals for basketball. Given the early starts to my days, I get tired pretty quickly after the sun goes down, and once I finish my reading and the game completes, I don’t have too much left in the tank to stay up much longer. It was a good day.

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