A day in the life of Summer

A photographic essay of a day in the life of an undergraduate Computer Science student Summer. I shadowed Summer from 9 am to 2 pm on a Friday and interviewed her to get a glimpse of her day to day life...

Summer working out on the pole while watching a video lecture to save time

Summer (name changed), 20 years old, is a Junior at the University of Texas at Austin studying Computer Science. Being a part of such a competitive program, she has to hustle every day to perform well in class. Even though not easy for her, she finds ways to do things she loves and cares about.

Usually, she starts her day by watching online lectures after finishing her morning rituals. To be efficient, she works out on the pole simultaneously. Saving time is crucial to her.

1.Preparation

To get through the day, she packs everything she needs for school in her backpack. 

"I always, always carry my laptop with me"

Summer's backpack contains her valued laptop and charger, some school supplies, a packet of almonds, some cash, lotion and an iClicker which is a requirement by the University.

Summer's schedule on calendar app for Nov 22, Friday

Summer's bag unpacked with all the items out

To stay on top of everything, she relies heavily on Google Calendar.

"If it's not on my calendar, it's not happening!"

She sets reminder and marks down events on the calendar. She is very prompt about updating it and looks at her calendar several times a day.

Her phone has many social media apps, however, she uses Facebook Messenger to stay connected to friends and even her brother. She doesn't really enjoy talking on the phone and she misses all the calls as her phone is always in silent mode. 

She also is fairly active on Instagram and loves posting stories whenever she changes her hairstyle - which is twice a week.

Her mobile cover held many cards, cash, receipts and a flyer for an event.

Summer uses her phone cover as her wallet which stores all her credit card, id cards, cash, a receipt from a fast food joint on campus, cash and an old flyer for an event.

She also had a fake ID with a different birth date than her actual which she purchased from a Chinese website. She got a fake ID as she wanted to go out with her older friends to pubs and bars. This is very common in her circle and many of her friends had ordered the IDs together with her.

 

"We wanted to have fun and we felt left out! I had tried alcohol before and I had enjoyed it so I wanted to do it ."

On asking her experience of purchasing the ID online, she shared that her order didn't arrive for a long time but she received a jewellery box and she had to reach out to the customer care. After that, she received a set of socks with her IDs discreetly placed between them. A few weeks later, she accidentally broke her jewellery box which she hadn't ordered and saw her IDs slip out from the base of the box. 

2.Commute

Summer's at the bus stop missing the bus just by a few seconds. She takes an Uber to school.

She usually takes a bus to the university campus. When she misses the bus, she takes an Uber- which is about twice a week. When asked how does she feel about it, she said that it's perfectly fine for her.

 

She often goes to school in her workout clothes and she describes them to be comfortable.

 

"Comfort in clothing is very important to me. The clothes that I go out in, are all very comfortable"

Other than clothes, she shops almost everything online including most of her groceries. She said that clothes don't fit her the way they look in the pictures as she is 5 ft 10 inches tall.

She decides to grab her Amazon packages from the leasing office as she finds herself with extra time as she decides to take an Uber.

Summer doesn't drive and hence she relies on Amazon Student Prime to buy almost everything from dry groceries to beauty products. She loves the experience of shopping online as it is very convenient.

3.On Campus

Summer at Perry Castaneda Library, waiting for her study team member to study together.

Summer's day on campus involves juggling between classes and study meetings with peers. She has to move around a campus a lot as her classes are held in different buildings. This is also a reason why she prefers comfortable clothing and sporty shoes as daily wear.

Her classes are held in. different buildings located on campus but far away from each other. She has to walk to these classes, with. barely getting any breaks in between.

For Summer, health is a top priority. She has been taking different weight training classes at the university. She associated health with rigorous workout regimes. However, she always ignored taking care of her diet.  She seldom took customary meals; she would eat only when her body would badly need it. She says that she developed this routine simply because she was not able to balance her Academics, Social Life and Personal Life.

Recently, she visited a doctor for her neck pain where she discovered it was due to improper diet and high-stress levels. Since then she's trying to make conscious efforts to have proper timely meals. Her work is also very physically exacting. To do better at her work and after doctor's advice, she ordered a big pack of protein drinks which are easy to carry and consume.

Her visit to family in Dallas during Thanksgiving break also helped her routine get better.

"My trip to home helped me reset my routine. I wish I visited home more frequently."

4. Back Home

She tries to finish her schoolwork while staying on campus till usually till 9 pm before going home. She takes a bus to home. On days when she is on campus later than 11 pm, she takes the free Sure Lyft services provided by UT. For dinner, either she orders something on UberEats or has cereal.

Summer's kitchen pantry is filled with only different kinds of cereal, a big bag of coffee and a few condiments. 

The only thing her kitchen is stacked with is many packets of cereals and some condiments. She never cooks even though her kitchen has all the required amenities.

She lives in a 1 bedroomx1 bathroom apartment by herself which is fairly furnished.

Kitchen

Living room

Bedroom

Bedroom closet

Her apartment has multiple chairs and tables, a couch, a bed, a pole, a television and several different lamps.

Laylah- her Alter Ego

To be able to afford this place she works at a nearby strip club. Before moving to this apartment, she used to reside in a co-op where she had a "terrible experience". She had to share a room and her roommates changed 3 times in the span of 2 months. Her social expectations from the co-op were not fulfilled and she was desperate to have a place for herself. She describes that phase as the worst time of her year.

On asking why did she choose stripping, she said this is something she had wanted to do since she was fourteen. She had auditioned for this job last year as well, but she couldn't get in.

This time she was more prepared. She followed Youtube videos and bought clothes and shoes as suggested in the videos. Her audition went well and she got the job.

Although it is a lot of money, it is challenging in many aspects. As a dancer, she has to pay the club a house fee which can range from 20 to 100 dollars. On top of that, she tips the manager and the DJ to ensure she gets support and has a cordial relationship with everyone there. During the first few weeks, she was, in fact, losing money as she wasn't earning as much. She also had to change her personality to fit for the job.

"Sometimes I can come off as too smart, so I purposely act to be silly!"

She learned a lot from other girls who work at the club. She got better at her job and learned about precautions she should take in order to protect herself and her identity.

The demands of her work made her alter her routine to a significant extent. It is conflicting with her diet routine. Now she is more diet conscious and wants to build her upper body strength to be able to perform better. A social butterfly, Summer, doesn't have time to go out anymore.

Being Laylah, however, empowers Summer and she takes pride in her job.

"I am proud of being able to earn my own money with sensuality while being safe and providing for myself!"

Conclusion

Being a full-time student at UT and working part-time as a stripper, makes Summer's lifestyle extremely hectic. 20-year-old spontaneous Summer is still trying to find a balance between her academics, work, social life and personal life.

Every semester, she is adjusting her routine while striving to find that balance.

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