A Day In The Life of An IEDPer’23

Hi! I am Qianyu Li (Cherry), a 1st year IEDP student. I am from China and if, like me,  you wondered what the grad life experience in the US looks like. I am here to help you out!

I yearned for a master’s degree and wanted to experience education in a foreign country for a long time. After several years of effort, I decided to apply to American universities. The night I was admitted to Penn’s IEDP, I was so ecstatic that I could not sleep! A semester is done and I would like to believe I have some sense of normalcy and routine here. Check out a day in my life at Penn (of course, this looks very different for different IEDPers)

8:30 am – My Music Concert

Beginning the day with a hobby energizes and prepares me for the day ahead. Singing plays a major role in my life. If I have time, I enjoy doing vocal warm-ups and singing a little bit in the morning. It simply makes me happy and encourages me to complete additional tasks, and of course, the tons of assignments we have!

10:00 am – Awaiting More ‘Firsts’

Depending on the courses you select, your schedule varies. My selections for this semester focus on Early Childhood Development and Developmental Disabilities. We also have the Master’s Proseminar which I attend with the rest of my cohort and also where we get to explore policy analysis in depth.

My classes usually begin at around 10 a.m. or 12 p.m. and go on for about 2 hours. The Penn campus is so beautiful that it is well worth the 20-minute walk to get there.

There have been numerous ‘firsts’ in my time here. It was the first time I collaborated with other teammates to complete a project, the first time I participated in academic group work, the first time I participated so actively in class, the first time I met people from so many different countries and cultures, and of course, the first time I tried Water Ice (Philly’s Classic Summer Cooler). I am looking forward to so many more firsts!

Cherry and her group working on a case study

1:30 pm – A Taste of Home

I enjoy catching up with friends and grabbing a quick bite for fuel. There are several food options on-campus. Kim’s Food Truck is my favourite for delicious Chinese and grad-budget-friendly meals. 

3:00 pm – Nerding it Out

It is study time! Penn offers state-of-the-art libraries to study or work from, but the Fisher Fine Arts Library, is my go-to. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. I was initially captivated by its exterior, which compelled me to enter and explore, and I have been astounded by its architecture ever since my first visit. This is one of my favourite places to complete my assignments and study.

Fisher Fine Arts Library

6:00 pm – The Road Taken

Amidst readings, work, and pursuing my interests, sometimes I may feel like I want to catch a break. To do just that, there is a soothing trail about a ten-minute walk from the Penn campus and along the Schuylkill River. I love running during the night to release daytime stress! However, one must be responsible for their safety and I try to go for a jog before it gets too dark.

Cherry's favourite jogging trail by the river

8:00 pm – Chill In Chills

I am glad I could catch up with fellow IEDPers for a fun dinner! It was freezing though!

Cheery with other IEDPers catching p for dinner

10 pm – And That’s A Wrap

I get back to my room and prepare to do all this again tomorrow! Several events around campus – from talks by experts in the field to cultural gatherings – make campus life exciting (and sometimes, exhausting!). But it is worth it. I try to make the best of all the things Penn has to offer and am excited about what this semester will look like. Until next time!

Cherry and her friends at a Christmas photo shoot in the Penn bookstore

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