Brandon Darr

7:00AM: Since I used to be a teacher, I usually wake up pretty early. I don’t normally grab breakfast at home, but writing this blog post helps me to get into this old habit of yogurt and granola. As I start my day, I re-assess what I have to do for the day, read over emails and Slack notifications, and review assignments.

some yogurt and granola

8:15AM: I leave my apartment to catch the SEPTA trolley to Comegys Elementary School where I volunteer. I had never really taken public transportation in the United States, coming from a city where most people had cars to get around. Now I’ve become used to planning to arrive early in case the trolly is early or behind. On this day, it turns out that there is an issue, and the trolleys are not running on this route. Instead, I walk a good 20 minutes to Comegys.

the tunnel through which trolleys usually pass, but not on this day

8:45AM: My years of half-marathon training in undergrad paid off as I am able to keep a brisk walk and arrive at Comegys on time for my tutoring session. Through the Netter Center at Penn, I volunteer with the Penn Reading Initiative (PRI) which aims to help students improve their reading skills. I love being back in a school and classroom setting and working one-on-one with a student.

10:05AM: The IEDP GAs meet to catch up on where we all are and what we’ve been doing in our designated roles. We ask each other for feedback on our roles and throw out different ideas for what we could do for the program. I really enjoy working with the other GAs because we have a very collaborative mindset and want to help each other out. In this meeting, we talk about other GA positions that we may want to take on in the coming semester.

all the IEDP GAs together in Dr. GK’s office

11:15AM: After our GA meeting, I interview Ailing for the Bread, Butter, and Résumé Boost blog series. I love doing interviews with people because I have the opportunity to get to know people on another level, find out more about them, pick up on what they’re passionate about, really hone in on that, and format it in a way that can be shared with others. Even more importantly, I try to have a quick coffee or lunch with the person I’m interviewing; throughout the day, there are many local food trucks that are delicious and affordable.

interview with Ailing, featuring Vietnamese lemongrass pork on rice

12:00PM: Throughout the day, I like to do work in one of my favorite spots on campus: the 4th floor of GSE. Many IEDPers are usually here hard at work, but it’s also a nice space to chat and relax with others. After a hectic morning of volunteering and meetings, I take a break and just watch a bit of TV before I delve back into my work. I always schedule in something fun and social throughout my day to balance out the stresses that come with grad school.

Archie of Archie Comics about to be up to no good in Riverdale

1:10PM: Mid-afternoon is about the time when my energy starts to wane and I need a second coffee. A few other IEDPers and I take a break (from a break?) and get some Starbucks as well as some fresh air.

cute holiday cookies with IEDPers Amanda (middle) and Maryann (right)

2:10PM: You can always expect Dr. GK’s class to be interactive. While part of our pro-seminar class is a lecture to reinforce the readings, much of it is talking in small groups or doing activities around the topic of interest.

4:30PM: On Thursdays, I rush over to elementary Vietnamese class. I am in a Vietnamese class because I wanted to formally explore my inheritance language as a Vietnamese-American who didn’t grow up around the Vietnamese language. Sometimes it can be difficult since the class is mostly students who grew up hearing Vietnamese to some extent, but I love the opportunity to meet other people and immerse myself in another language.

some of my classmates in Elementary Vietnamese right before a quiz

7:00PM: I’m a pretty social person, so I usually spend dinner hanging out with friends. Tonight I join some fellow GSE’ers at Ekta and mingle with people in the counseling and mental health services program. There are a handful of good food options near campus that aren’t too badly priced. Ekta is one of the best with an incredible buffet for ~$14.

not feeling too hungry today, I just eat an order of samosas with a mango lassi

8:30PM: When I get home I like to unwind for a bit, do some readings, or work on assignments. I’m the type of person who likes to do the bulk of my work at night and work while socializing during the day. I usually go to bed around midnight, give a take an hour depending on the day.

A caveat: Some days are just nonstop sitting at a computer, doing readings, writing papers, finishing assignments, etc. But for the Day in the Life, I wanted to highlight some of my activities around campus other than schoolwork.