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.

After having worked to improve the quality of K-12 education in India for the last seven years, PT moved to philly (#gappubilliinphilly) to pursue her masters in International Education Development or basically to find answers to the big questions about development that she had while working through the different levels of education or to run away from her mad family in Delhi (who knows!). PT identifies Mumbai as home and people of Malwani as family.

Below is PT’s description of her day.

6.00 AM – My alarm goes off. This alarm has been set up only for me to know that its 6 AM and I have only half an hour more before I wake up to get ready for the gym.

6.30 AM – The actual alarm time! I manage to get ready for the gym in 10 minutes. Because I live on-campus, at Sansom Place East, the Pottruck gym (a well quipped multistoried building with all facilities including a swimming pool and a climbing wall) is literally a 5-minute walk away.

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6.50 AM – Morning time in the gym is my favorite because sometimes you have the entire floor to yourself! I do my regular yoga and some weight-training.

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8.00 AM – A 40-minute gym schedule freshens me for the day. I spend the next hour to get ready. Sometimes, I eat breakfast at home and other times, I depend on the amazing cohort and the GSE staff, who usually bring some snacks to the early morning classes! (they always let you know beforehand so you can plan accordingly)

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9.00 AM – My Wednesday begins with the Recitation Hour. This is the only time in the week (in first semester) where the all the IEDPers come together as a cohort (because GSE gives you the flexibility to customize your masters by choosing electives of your choice) to do professional (and personal) development work.

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11.00 AM – I walk to the Graduate Student Center (GSC) to a) refill my coffee (yes, GSC has free coffee) and b) find a cozy reading spot to finishing reading my course material for the week. There are times when I prefer the buzz of GSC rather than the stillness of the Van Pelt Library (VP). Also. GSC has ample sun-shine coming in through the windows, which I like.

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12.30 PM – I walk back to Sansom to eat my lunch, which is the biggest advantage of living on campus. Because I am 5-minute walk away from GSE, gym, GSC and library, I do not have to worry about carrying my lunch/snacks with me.

1.30 PM – I am back to GSE for my class – Basic Education in Developing Countries, at 2 PM. I use the half-an-hour to hang out with friends at the GSE café.

2.00 PM – I am in room 200 at for my class in Basic Ed. We have a lot of students from different schools and courses at Upenn, who have enrolled for this class which makes the classroom discussions diverse and rich. I have been introduced to some very interesting points of view on development, education, colonization, etc. through this class.

4.00 PM – I am officially done for the day! (as far as the classes are concerned). I usually spend the next one hour hanging out with a group of friends. Either we all hang out at GSC (yes, free coffee) or make plans to eat dinner together or go to Anum’s house, which is another study haven for me and my friends.

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5.00 PM – I head to VP to get some of my Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) work done. I am very excited to learn how to use a statistical analysis software for data analysis (which is a part of M&E). All the computers in VP have the software and my M&E study group has a booked a booth for us to use the facility for 2 hours to get our work done. I absolutely love working on M&E with my study group!

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7.00 PM – By this time, I feel like I have read a lot and done some good amount of work. So, I head out of the library to go get dinner with my friends. There are a lot of options on campus to eat (some affordable, some not). But since all the desi people were craving some Indian dal and paneer, we are going to a nearby Indian restaurant to eat the dinner buffet. (yes, once in a while, we treat ourselves)

9.00 PM – After a delicious and satisfying meal, I head to Anum’s house for a round of tea and (no points for guessing) another round of study! My friend, Anum, who lives off-campus has a beautiful house with a lounge that accommodates a study-group of 3-4. It’s fun to study, gossip and have chai – all together, right?

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11.30 PM – I am back at Sansom. Upenn has a free shuttle service to take students in and around campus at night (to ensure safety), which I use to get back from Anum’s place (even though it is only a 15-minute walk from my house). Before I go to bed, I quickly check my calendar for get a snapshot of what Thursday looks like. And I set the alarm for 6 AM and try to sleep. Thanks to Instagram, I am only able to fall asleep by midnight!

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This is what my mid-week looked like last semester when I was enrolled in 5 courses (4.5 CU) This semester, I have no classes on Wednesday. In fact, this semester begins with a very busy Monday and Tuesday, which sometimes makes my weekend a mad shift. But, Wednesday onwards, because the rest of the week is well-paced out, I get ample time to read, finish my assignments and even grocery shop before Saturday hits.