A Day in the Life of an IEDPer, Literally 1: A Peak Into My Thursday

One of the most frequently asked questions during virtual information session, email exchanges, phone conversation, etc. with prospective students is “What does your typical day at IEDP look like?” And too many times we struggle to provide crisp answer to that question mostly because our typical days look all very different! It depends on whom you ask, on what day of the week you ask and which point of the semester you ask. But with this series post, we are trying to give our best shot at this question.


Originally from Center City, Philadelphia, Matt is a first-year student at IEDP on a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship. He works as an Executive Management Assistant at Nationalities Service Center and is also a member of the Philadelphia Runner Track Club. Matt plans to finish the program in a year and a half and is currently enrolled in 4 courses (3.5 CU).

8:00am-8:30am: Between not having my first class until 10:30am and being a bit of a night owl, I take advantage of sleeping-in most mornings. I usually try to get up at 8am, though usually hit snooze a few times or check my email to see if there are any urgent messages that need responses.

8:30am-10:00am: After I get out of bed I have a cup of home-made cold brew coffee, make a plant-heavy smoothie, and put on music. Today I’m listening to “TESTING” by ASAP Rocky, which has been in heavy rotational. I’m looking over the NYTs to get caught up on the news before responding to some work-related emails. While being an IEDPer, I also work part-time at Nationalities Service Center (NSC).

Safety First.

10:00am-10:30am: I usually take a few minutes to glance over my homework before biking over to my first class. With living in West Philly, my commute is very short–just about 5-7 minutes by biking. 

10:30am-12:00pm: I’m in a level-three intermediate Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) course. In class we watched a video on the ancient history of Gaza and then had a discussion about specific questions, mostly on its importance as a port and trade city along the Mediterranean. MSA has proven a bit of an adjustment after about 18 months of defaulting to Jordanian Arabic.

IMG_20190207_125655 (1)
Finding a moment for work between talking with other IEDPers on GSE’s fourth floor.

12:00pm-2:00pm: I have a two hour break between classes, which today I’m using for more NSC work. I’m working on a presentation I need to give next week at NSC and eating lunch, which wound up being an apple, carrots, a small granola bar, and a donut from my old workplace, Federal Donuts.

2:00pm-4:00pm: Alice Albright is speaking to our class about her work at the General Partnership for Education (GPE) and the organization’s mission/initiatives more generally. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Albright’s presentation and appreciated having the opportunity to ask her about GPE’s emerging knowledge management system, Knowledge and Innovation (KIX). 

Me, low-key starstruck, asking Ms. Albright a question.

4:30pm-8:30pm: Tonight I’m making a quick dinner of lobster, tomato, and goat cheese ravioli. While it sounds bourgeois, I actually only paid about $3 for this from Trader Joe’s. I don’t have class again until next Monday but am out of town this weekend, so using the evening to get things ready for then.

8:30-9:30pm: Exercising in the evening helps me fall asleep, so I’m doing a late evening home lift and physical therapy. I’ve had a nagging injury keeping me from running, though am trying to heal up so I can jump into some spring races like Broad St. and Run Fest. 

9:30-11:00pm: Some combination of reading evening news or whatever book I recently bought or borrowed until I’m ready for bed. 

Thursdays often feel like one of my laxer weekdays. Mondays are a three class day, Tuesdays are split between one class and NSC, Wednesdays are a two class day, and Fridays I’m at NSC from 9am-5pm. Compared to last semester when I had been re-adjusting to being a student, I feel like I’ve gotten down a school and work routine right for me.

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