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A Typical Wednesday in the Life of a Graduate Student

7:20 am: Alarm goes off. Gracie jumps on top of me in eager anticipation of being fed. I roll over and hit snooze.

7:22 am: Gracie lies on top of me in hopes it will get me out of bed sooner. Joke’s on you, puppy. I could lay here alllllll day.

7:28 am: Alarm goes off again. I acquiesce and shut it off. Gracie jumps around ecstatically, occasionally running into me.

7:30 am: I get cereal and milk for breakfast; Gracie gets kibble.

7:31 + four seconds am: Gracie finishes her breakfast. She stares at me longingly, desperate for Cheerios. I avoid her adoring gaze, knowing that I usually give in way too easily.

7:40 am: Gracie and I walk around the local park. She stops to smell everything, greet doggie friends, chase squirrels, and pee eight times. It’s a good day to be Gracie.

8 am: We return from our walk. What I lack in sleep, I make up for in coffee. I turn on the coffeemaker (probably my favorite appliance of all time) and jump in the shower.

8:40 am: Basic hygiene and primping tasks completed, I return to the kitchen to assemble my lunch and fix my coffee. Three spoonfuls of sugar and lots of milk, please. (I know, I know. Sorry, Mom.)

8:47 am: Lure Gracie into her crate with a treat. Run out the door just a couple minutes late.

9:02 am: Roll into practicum class sliiiiightly behind schedule. Try to slip into a seat as quietly as possible. We’re discussing multiculturalism today and what the American Counseling Association (ACA)’s stance is, was, and could be. It’s a surprisingly interesting topic, especially since the doctoral students presenting on it get us talking.

10:05 am: Time to move onto the group supervision component of class. We get a ten minute break before spending the next hour and change discussing Irvin Yalom’s book, “The Gift of Therapy,” talking about challenges that have arisen at our practicum sites, and giving feedback to a classmate who shares a video of her working with a client.

11:25 am: Five minute break before my next class! Fortunately, all of our classes are located in the same hallway, so I have a few minutes to catch up with friends.

11:30 am: We’re learning about motivational interviewing in our addictions counseling class, a topic I’m especially interested in. We talk about how to pick what to focus on in therapy and the role of assessment, then analyze an online role play we’ve all been contributing to between a client and counselor. Lots of laughter ensues as my friend Rachel and I try to act out the role play.

1:50 pm: Addictions counseling class gets out. I’ve got ten minutes before my favorite class, marriage and family counseling, begins. I consider getting more coffee but sit outside with Rachel instead. The weather’s too beautiful to be inside all day! Spring is so beautiful here.

2 pm: The class starts with an hour of lecture on postmodern theories, specifically focusing on narrative therapy. We also discuss the final exam. It’s hard to believe the end of the semester is so close!

3:15 pm: We break into our family groups and plan for the afternoon. In the marriage and family counseling class, we spend a little bit of class acting as a family and getting counseling from other students, and then switching parts and counseling a pretend family. It’s both an amazing opportunity to practice family counseling and a HILARIOUS exercise in acting. The highlight this week is when a classmate, pretending to be an 18 year-old boy, says something so funny that his pretend mom starts laughing so hard she’s crying. Trying to stay in character, she begins to fake weep, all while the rest of us are also losing it. Even our professor is laughing. He tells us afterwards that he plans to put that moment into the video he’s compiling of our “memorable moments.”

4:25 pm: I have a break before supervision with a doctoral student, so I sit in a common area and hang out with some of the school counseling students. To be honest, I don’t even remember what we talk about, but we spend most of the time laughing. We have this kind of community in which pretty much all of us enjoy hanging out with each other, so there’s always someone to hang out with during downtime. I feel lucky to be in such a fun and accepting group of people.

5 pm: Supervision time! I talk to my doctoral supervisor and another one of his supervisees in triadic supervision. We talk about challenges we’re having and get feedback from each other. It’s one of the most useful hours of my week – counseling depends on confidentiality, and since you can’t get feedback from most people in your life, having a supervisor you trust to give you feedback is so, so valuable.  

6 pm: Done for the day! Time to head home. Traffic isn’t too bad today, thankfully!

6:15 pm: After feeding Gracie, we spend half an hour in the dog park. We have a fun (and kind of wacky) community going on; although we don’t know most of each other’s names, we know each other’s dogs really well and enjoy spending time together outside. One of the dog parents talks about potentially having a dog Olympics (or “doglympics”) this summer, and we all get pumped about the idea. I try to get Gracie to climb over the A-frame obstacle in the dog park so that she can qualify. Luring her with dog treats works! Tomorrow I’ll try to get her through the tunnel obstacle so that she’ll be ready to compete.

6:45 pm: One more lap around the park for Gracie and me. She enjoys attempting to receive petting from every. single. human that we pass. She is somewhat successful, probably because of her super-floppy ears.

7:05 pm: Leftover pizza and reruns of The Office are the perfect end to a day full of classes. I catch up with a couple of friends from undergrad on the phone and play fetch with Gracie. She doesn’t really get it, but I’m still trying to make fetch happen.

10 (okay, maybe closer to 9:30) pm ish : I like to go to bed around the time of someone half my age. Time to hit the light and call it a day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed (or at least laughed at) my recap of a typical Wednesday! Everyone has a different grad school experience, but I think some things – classes, friendship, lots of laughter, hitting snooze, leftover pizza – are similar for all of us. Here’s hoping you’re having a wonderful day wherever you are, and thanks for reading!