A Day in the Life at Swarthmore

This is a day in the life of senior Ming-Ray Xu, a sociology major currently deciding on medical schools to attend for his time after Swarthmore.


  • 9am: I wake up in my single in Parrish. Sun is streaming in the windows onto my houseplants. I wash up and read some poems for English before getting out the door. 
  • 10am: I grab a muffin from the Kohlberg Coffee Bar before my meeting with my thesis advisor in Sociology. Things are going well–I’ve got the second chapter almost done and ready to hand in before the weekend. She suggests I seek out a directed reading next semester with another professor to deepen my interest in the sociology of the health professions. 
  • 11:30am: English class with Prof. Craig Williamson on English literature from Beowulf to Milton. Today we talked about Twelfth Night and how, as a comedy, it very interestingly puts together the ideas of a person’s deepest desires with what it really means to pretend to be someone else. 
  • 12:30pm: Fast lunch of Chinese food from Sci Center before lab. Some light chit-chat with friends who are also between classes. 
  • 1pm: Physical Chemistry lab. It’s a computational exercise so I spend the afternoon working at a desktop, every now and then peeking at the construction on Singer Hall through the window. The sky outside is a perfect blue and the falling leaves are golden around the steel and glass of the new building. 
  • 5:30pm: After stopping back at my dorm for a little bit I head down to Sharples for dinner. My friends and I gather at a big round table in the back room, checking in on what everyone has been up to and what they’re looking forward to in the days and weeks ahead. 
  • 7pm: I stop by a study break the SAMs (Student Academic Mentors) and RAs (Resident Assistants) put on for Parrish Hall residents. Everyone is sitting around with cider and popcorn talking, and I get some good advice on what classes to take next semester. 
  • 8pm: Having a few hours free, I come down to the firehouse to supplement the ambulance crew while doing homework in case a call comes in. (Students can volunteer for the Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association!) I show Chris how to write patient care reports in our charting software and we banter with the other EMTs and firefighters from the Swarthmore community. 
  • 12am: Bedtime. I’ve been all over the place today, but I’ve done all the things I wanted to do, so I fall asleep quite content and looking forward to the last half of the week. I’ll be able to use the MakerSpace on Friday. I love to head in there and work on really just about any project that comes to mind. From woodworking to prototyping, I never quite know who I will meet or run into over there. It’s an awesome place to end a busy week!