A Day in the Life of a Humanities & Biology Student

Moobinah, 2nd Year B.Hum Biology Student

November 2020

As a second year in the Humanities (Great Books) and Biology stream at Carleton, I am grateful that I don’t have to choose between the Liberal Arts and STEM. In this program, I get to learn about the world we live in from both angles. Within my science courses, I explore various biological processes at the molecular and cellular level. At the same time, I engage with complex social and moral ideas in my Humanities classes. While transitioning to online learning has taken lots of trial and error, the accommodation of my professors and the support of my fellow humsies has helped me develop a general routine. Today, I’ll take you through a typical day for me as a Humanities & Biology student.

I start my day at 7am, when incessant ringing informs me it’s time to wake up. After the seventh alarm admonishes me for hiding under my blankets, I reluctantly drag myself out to get ready for the day. I have found that it is important to set the mood for school, especially as my bedroom is both my relaxing and studying space. To create separation, I study at my desk. My bed is strictly reserved for sleep. Falling asleep when working on an important assignment is far too easy under the covers, as I’ve learned from experience! Other things I do to set the mood include changing into school attire, and making myself some tea, just as I would do before heading to campus last year.

Today, I’m starting my morning off with my Reason and Revelation discussion group. At 8:35am, it feels too early to be discussing Aristotle’s Ethics, but the ball gets rolling soon enough. Aristotle may have felt that the “young” are not a suitable audience for lectures on ethics, but the issues raised by my fellow humsies leave me in awe at their understanding of the philosophical concepts. Online class has its difficulties, but I am glad I can still discuss important ideas and theories with my colleagues, just as I did in-person at the College last year.

After the discussion ends, it’s time to turn to the sciences. Today, I have biochemistry and organic chemistry classes back-to-back. Even though biochemistry is an asynchronous class, I have found that watching the lecture during the scheduled class time helps me keep up with the material. From enzymes to the pentose phosphate pathway, there’s a lot to cover before my midterm. Once my organic chemistry professor ends the Zoom call, I head to the kitchen. Remote learning has given me the chance to experiment and improve my cooking. Today, fried rice is on the menu.

Fueled by eggs, veggies, and rice, I head back upstairs to my room to finish an organic chemistry lab assignment. This week, we’re learning about the fascinating synthesis of 4-cholesten-3-one from the steroid cholesterol. After a quick proofreading session with a labmate, I hand in my prelab worksheet, much to my relief. That’s one more task I can cross off my to-do list!

As I did a lot of science work today, I decide to switch gears and finish my Art History module, just to keep things fresh. This week’s focus is early Chinese and Korean art, which I have been looking forward to since the beginning of the semester. Learning about the hidden Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist ideas expressed in Northern Song painting keeps me so engaged that I lose track of time. Suddenly, it’s dark outside, and my mom is calling me for dinner.

At my house, everyone eats dinner together at 7pm. Although we are all at home, this is our only time together. My high school self would have resented this “forced” family bonding time, but today I am grateful for it.

Now that I have finished all my tasks for the day, I can finally relax. I shower, then get cozy by the fireplace for some light reading. Once that’s done, I can’t decide between finishing a K-drama episode with my sister or an Among Us session with my friends, so I opt for both. In theory this is an excellent opportunity to “get ahead” in terms of lectures or assignments, but I’ve found that downtime is essential to avoid burnout. By the time I’m revealed as the imposter for the third time in a row, it’s 11pm, time for bed. Zoom university will start again at 8:35am sharp tomorrow.