A day in the life (2014)

Today is Tuesday, 20 May 2014

I am working at Harvard Medical School as a lecturer in Neurobiology and Curriculum Fellow for Quantitative Biology.

This is a day in my life.

  • 7 am – It is very nearly almost a summer day in Boston.


    I get up, get ready and have breakfast while reading the news online. After years as an expat, the Austrian online newspaper der Standard is still my first point of call – some things never change.

  • 9 am – I enjoy my walk to work in the sunshine and say hello to one of the lion heads who guards the gates to my institute.


  • 9:30 am – I spend the morning at my desk. This week and next, I help run the Boot Camp in Quantitative Methods here at HMS, an intensive introduction to programming, data analysis and imaging in MATLAB. My morning is accordingly taken up with preparing course materials, answering to students’ e-mails and taking care of some last-minute organisational issues.

  • 12:30 pm – I debate having lunch out on the lawn, but decide I will eat indoors today.


  • 1 pm – Today, Boot Camp is only in the afternoon and attendance is optional. Students can come if they want to get extra practise, review yesterday’s materials and get assistance with their homework. Around 20 students show up today (roughly half our class), and together with four of our teaching assistants I walk around the classroom, look over people’s code, answer questions and help students organise their understanding and formulate their ideas. This is absolutely the best part of teaching: Working with students individually, witnessing how they construct new knowledge and connect it to what they already know – it is fantastic.

  • 6 pm – I have some caffeine and a skype conversation with my boyfriend in London. Thank you, thank you, thank you, inventor of the internet!

  • 7 pm – The sun goes down, and from my desk, I can see the evening arrive.


    Yes, from my desk, because I still have a few things to do before going home. A few Boot Camp things, mainly, and keeping on top of my e-mail. By now, I am the last one left in the office, so I can turn on the music. Which always helps.

  • 9 pm – I walk home. It’s dark, but still quite warm. Very nice, actually. Also, here is a blurry picture of my street, including the Citgo sign. (Apparently, it’s a landmark. I found this amusing at first, but it has grown on me since I live here.)


  • 9:30 – My organic fruit and veg box from Boston Organics has arrived, so I make myself a very organic-veg-themed dinner. I am basically too tired to do anything else after that, except read a bit, and then turn in early. Boot Camp week has only just begun!

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