The typical day of a Natural Sciences student is rather full, but it’s so varied.
7am: time to organise
I’m an early riser, and I like to be up 2 hours before lectures start so I have time to get my brain working. I make breakfast, and a packed lunch if I need it, then pack my bag. I usually then have half an hour, which I either spend on admin, reading (this will be a theme!) or chat to friends who live abroad.
Then I cycle into campus, giving myself plenty of time in case of a puncture or struggling to find an empty, sheltered place to lock my bike. Cycling between lectures takes just as much time as walking – due to the faff of bike locks and the constraints the lake puts on routes. Therefore, I lock my bike in either a central location or where I’ll end the day.
Lectures start. Some days, I’m lucky and start at 10am, but most days are a solid 9am-1pm of lectures. It’s usually a mix of subjects – maybe two physics then two chemistry. There are also tutorials, problem classes and seminars thrown into the mix.
The lectures are scattered across campus. If I have to travel from Chemistry or Plasma to Physics, Maths or Biology, it can take longer than the time between lectures. If one of the teaching sessions is a seminar, problem class or tutorial, I email whoever’s taking it in advance and ask to either leave a few minutes early or warn them that I might be late. I’ve found it’s better to ask and miss a few minutes of a tutorial than the start of a lecture, because it can be hard to get into a lecture if I’ve missed the intro.
On lab days, I have to arrive for 8:45, so I can get safety googles and pens (etc) out of my bag before stowing everything else in a locker. Labs, luckily, are spaced out, so it’s rare for me to have more than one a week, but it does happen. The nice thing about labs is that can finish early if you’re careful with your time
1pm: lunch and labs
Lunch time! There is a one-hour lull in the teaching schedule for everyone – except people doing labs. You get half an hour for labs, and Chemistry let you take it at your discretion. I always plan to take it during the “leave to cool” stages.
I tend to take lunch by myself. I’m very introverted, so lunch is my recharge time – both mentally and physically. I find a nice quiet corner and eat my lunch, usually while reading. I might do some work if I’m aware that it’s a busy week.
Some days, I get a two-hour lunch break, so I go home and do a bit of work. On Wednesdays, the afternoon is free, so I go home and start the laundry!
2pm: more lectures
More lectures! This year, the afternoon has more problem classes and tutorials and typically I finish at 4pm or 5pm.
Once home, I start whatever work I have. Because I spend so much time in lectures, I have fewer assignments. A few physics problems, maybe a chemistry tutorial to prepare for. Notes from the day to write up.
If it’s a Thursday, I don’t go home after lectures, but head to Natural Sciences hour – a talk from a researcher or industry professional, then pizza and a chance to hang out with friends. Being such a small course, we all know each other well and the sense of community is wonderful.
6pm: time to eat
I stop working. Unless I have a large piece of work due soon and I know the timing will be tight, I won’t work in the evenings. For me, it’s the best way to balance work and life.
I then have dinner, because I like to eat early. If it’s a cooking day, I stop work at 5pm to give myself an hour to cook, which can be quite therapeutic if I have the kitchen to myself and an audiobook on. Not only does eating early give me plenty of time to digest the food before sleep, but it means I don’t have to think about eating after any evening activities.
7.30pm: evening activities
Some evenings, I have choir or sport or bible study, which takes up most of the evening. If it’s a free evening, I usually read, write or watch something.
9.30-10pm: down time
I aim to have all digital devices off by this point, and then read for at least half an hour to help shut my brain down. On rare days where I don’t start early, I might let myself read quite late! But I’m more of an early bird than a night owl.
I don’t work on weekends (unless there’s a major deadline). Instead, I use them to relax, meet up with friends or travel to see family who live nearby. I have church on Sunday. It’s also a good time to get chores done and call my parents.