A Day in the Life of a Wildlife Student

Meija Knafl, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Wildlife Ecology
College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture
University of Maine
8:00 am My alarm goes off, and like most mornings, I hit snooze for just a few more relaxing minutes laying in bed before getting up for the day.
8:10 am My alarm goes off for a second time, and I finally roll out of bed. My roommate and I eat breakfast together, chatting casually about the classes we’ll have that day and when in the evening we should be returning to the apartment. My mother calls my cell, and she and I chat for about ten minutes or so. After the call is finished, I double-check my backpack for everything I’ll need before leaving for my first class.
9:25 am I arrive at my first class of the day and tie my bike to the bike rack out front. I don’t own a car, so I bike to campus from a nearby apartment every day, even in the dead of winter! The class, Wildlife Population Dynamics, is taught by Erik Blomberg, a professor I’ve had in the past. I like his pop culture references during the lecture, and I know I’ll do well in his class so long as I study. Although most classes for Wildlife Ecology majors are taught in Nutting Hall, this is one of the rare few in a different building, known as Lengyel Gym. It’s typically used for Kinesiology and Physical Education majors or club activities, but Erik has his class here now too.
10:45 am Class is over, and I’ve got a few free hours before my afternoon lab. I walk a friend of mine to her next class in Little Hall, located on the mall. The mall is a beautiful open field in the center of campus, and it’s a popular place for students to hang out between classes in nice weather. She and I chat about our plans for the coming weekend, watching all the students playing Frisbee, relaxing in hammocks, or walking to class.
11:10 am I bid my friend goodbye, and hop on my bike to head back to the apartment. I have two hours or so between Erik’s class and my afternoon field course, so plenty of time to have lunch, change, and grab my field gear. On days when I’m feeling particularly motivated, I try to complete some homework during this free time, too. On days when I’m not, I usually watch some Netflix or take a nap. Today, I’m not feeling overwhelmed or like I’ve got a particularly large amount of work to do, so I flip on a David Attenborough nature documentary while I eat my lunch.
2:00 pm I grab my field gear, snacks, water, and muck boots, then bike over to Nutting Hall for my afternoon lab. In this class, we get to go to different ecosystems each week and explore them, discussing the functions they serve for the surrounding environment. This week, we make the short ride to Hirundo National Wildlife Refuge, not too far from campus. Many of the Wildlife Ecology classes come here for various reasons, and I’ve done some American Woodcock surveying as a volunteer here before, as well.
5:00 pm The class returns to campus and breaks for the day. I head home for dinner, meeting up with my roommate. We chat as she cooks dinner and we eat, and then I take my turn cleaning the dishes. Sometimes we’ll watch a movie in the evening, get groceries together, or go on a walk. However, tonight I’ve got club activities I need to get ready for, so I change my clothes into exercise gear and head back out to the garage.
7:00 pm The fencing club meetings on Tuesday nights typically start loosely around 7 in the evening and are in Lengyel Gym. Tonight is the first meeting of the new fall semester, so the rest of the members from the previous year and I greet the new students excitedly. We talk about the boring stuff like paperwork first, but before I know it, all the older members and I are leading the newbies through warm-up exercises and basic footwork. Fencing is one of my favorite times of the week, and I like the friendly, relaxed atmosphere all the club members have with each other.
9:00 pm Even though we’re all tired and sweaty, many of the fencers typically go to the Bear’s Den Pub and Café in the Memorial Union building after practice to hang out. The Memorial Union is a pretty important building here on campus and is home to the MaineCard office, the mail service office known as The Cubby, a cafeteria, a theatre, more offices, and many others. I usually work during the week in the cafeteria, and on the weekends in the Pub and Café, but today I don’t have any shifts. A friend of mine is working though, and he and I make small talk while he fills everyone’s drink orders. After we’ve got everything, we all settle in for a fiery card game of B.S.
10:00 pm I return home and make sure to shower right away, getting all the sweat from a hard practice washed away. Once I’m squeaky clean, I usually make myself a snack. Tonight I indulge guiltily in a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles, but only a small one, so it’s okay. I’m still pretty fired up from a fun practice, so I read a couple of required articles for another class I’ve got on Thursday evening.
11:30 pm I’m exhausted from a full day, so I throw on my comfy pajamas and snuggle up in bed with a fuzzy pillow. I’ll get a full night tonight, and be fresh and ready to tackle another day in the life of a Wildlife Ecology student.

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