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The 18-hour day of an undergraduate student

This week, we are comparing how students and educators in high-school and postsecondary spend their days. Today: Life as an undergraduate.

7:35 a.m.

Roll out of bed.

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7:40 a.m.

Forlornly attempt to turn on laptop. Laptop out of commission after an unfortunate run-in with tomato soup. Luckily mother has loaned me her iPad. Lounge around in bed checking e-mail.

7:55 a.m.

Microwave leftover Thanksgiving food for breakfast.

8:15 a.m.

Realize that I can't find (step) cat. Have assumed temporary custody as cat belongs to long-distance boyfriend away at law school across the province. Boyfriend lives in tiny one bedroom apartment. Cat lives with me and I attempt to love him as my own. Have continual anxiety that cat will attempt to break out of my house and wander, à la Homeward Bound, to London in pursuit of boyfriend.

8:35 a.m.

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Give up on hunt for cat. Walk to work.

8:57 a.m.

Begin shift as cashier at on-campus pharmacy. Have been employed as social media co-ordinator/cashier/general assistant/ Master of Tylenol Cold N' Sinus for approximately 2.5 months.

9:30 a.m.

Instagram photo of Kleenex boxes to tweet from pharmacy Twitter account.

12:02 p.m.

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Finish work at on-campus pharmacy and head to on-campus coffee shop for caffeine and food. Person at bagel station is a classmate in my International Peace and Security Class. As he slathers on my cream cheese, we discuss the topics for our papers. I explain that I'm reviewing a book about Space Security. Classmate/barista relegated to leftover library book about Cyprus overwrought with jealousy.

12:09 p.m.

Sit in on-campus coffee shop attempting to use mother's iPad to write bi-weekly student government report about the activities of the Queen's University Senate.

12:15 p.m.

Struggle to find appropriate mix of professionalism while remaining aware of how few people will read the report. Contemplate turning report into a BuzzFeed-esque listicle to encourage readership.

12:25 p.m.

Decide to use the phrase "the University must encourage innovation while refuting a #YOLO approach to developing academic program offerings."

12:45 p.m.

Offer to buy a pint of beer for anybody who solves a riddle included in the report.

2:30 p.m.

Three-hour history seminar about Liberalism, Authoritarianism and Dictatorship in Latin America.

2:40 p.m.

Compose tweet about sale on deodorant at pharmacy.

4:00 p.m.

Start intense discussion on best sushi restaurant in Kingston with one other student and professor. Begin getting a bit too passionate. Realize that this is the most substantive debate we've had in class this semester. Discussion begins morphing into cultural appropriation.

4:13 p.m.

Fellow classmate quotes Foucault in reference to all-u-can-eat sushi restaurants. He's obviously done the readings. Concede defeat.

5:30 p.m.

Class closes. Sushi craving hits peak. Purchase sub-par cafeteria sushi. Attempt to Skype boyfriend from iPad. Fail. Realize the only music mom has on her iPad is Adele's entire discography. Adele amplifies the heartbreak of the situation.

6:30 p.m.

Attend first year microeconomics lecture. Sit at the back. All the first years wear lanyards with their residence keys around their neck. First years can sense the 'fifth year history-political studies student' vibes oozing out of my pores and give me a three-seat berth. Feel approximately 1,000 years old.

6:45 p.m.

Wander onto Facebook. See wedding photos from girl I sat next to in grade 10 English. Realize she has changed her last name. Realize she is also in medical school.

6:50 p.m.

Panic sets in about future.

6:52 p.m.

Begin scrolling through grad school websites.

6:54 p.m.

Realize that at my age, Adele had completed TWO full studio albums.

6:55 p.m.

Realize that the girl sitting three seats away from me has no living memory of 9/11.

6:58 p.m.

Begin weighing the Opportunity Cost of attending the rest of the lecture versus leaving to work on space and security paper. Proud of myself for knowing the term "opportunity cost."

7:30 p.m.

Reward self by leaving lecture at break.

8:13 p.m.

Find heartbreaking footnote in textbook explaining that extent of the Antarctic penguin oil industry in the early 1900s, which killed nearly 150,000 penguins. Question the relevancy of the footnote to current debates on weaponizing space.

8:47 p.m.

Realize that book about space security has entire CHAPTER devoted to space physics. Send frantic Facebook message to friend in engineering physics program asking for help.

8:53 p.m.

Remember appropriate lyric from Rocket Man, "And all the science I don't understand." Well said, Elton.

9:15 p.m.

Prepare agenda for 9:30 student senate meeting. Meeting is located at the third floor of a pub because my responsibilities as chair included picking the meeting location, and when meetings are held at 9:30 p.m. on a Monday maintaining quorum becomes radically easier when they are held at a pub.

9:34 p.m.

Chair meeting of student senate caucus. Talk to the other student senators about policy regarding program closures. Explain relevant portions of the Faculty Union's collective bargaining agreement. Feel like a bajillion dollars. Eat nachos.

10:57 p.m.

Arrive home. Find cat hanging out with housemate watching last night's episode of the Walking Dead. Feel overwhelming relief and a little bit of jealousy.

11:15 p.m.

Call boyfriend. Hold phone near the cat's mouth. Cat refuses to meow but makes chewing noises. Boyfriend and I make general small talk about our respective days.

11:38 p.m.

Forlornly attempt to turn on laptop. Fails. Eat more leftover Thanksgiving food while watching House Hunters International on iPad.

1:34 a.m.


Isabelle Duchaine is a fifth year History-Politics student at Queen's University. She sits on the University Senate and has a part-time job at the on-campus pharmacy.

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