A Day in the Life of an UCI Student: Misha Ponnuraju
On good mornings, I wake up at 8:30 a.m. Even on Tuesday and Thursday, when my first class begins at 12:30 p.m. On good days, I am awake as the sunlight filters through the blinds. I am hit, square in the face, with light and I know my day has already begun.
With my four extra hours, I take the time to make my tea and toast in a leisurely pace. I have the time to perfect my winged eyeliner (or wipe it all off and start over, when needed). My first few hours are spent solo in my study nook at my UTC apartment, just a ten minute walk away from campus. In my nook, I labor over my senior thesis. It’s due in late May, 2019; however, I have about twenty-thirty poems to write until then. My senior thesis is a labor of love, literally — it is an interdisciplinary study of romantic and familial love. Throughout the next year, I will carefully gather myths, poems, songs, movies, and more that all examine where and when love takes place. For example, today’s poem is called Mildred Loving to Her Husband. In this poem, I explore the Supreme Court Case, Loving Versus Virginia, the decision that constitutionally protects interracial marriage. How does home impact love? I use poems and research to find out.
By 12:15, I am walking beneath the shade of eucalyptus trees to class. In my Honors Humanities Program (HHP) seminar, we ask ourselves about whether people are more animals or machine, or what it would be like if dogs had human thoughts. Today, we are discussing the film, The Island of Lost Souls, a silent horror film complete with deserted islands and vivisection. This seminar is led Professor Jayne Lewis, a shining light in the English Department. As Director of HHP, Professor Lewis teaches a seminar while leading the thesis workshop. Not only do I get to engage with the Honors Program through lively debate, I have a cohort of students who are all embarking on this scary thesis-writing process together. After my Honors Seminar, I go to African Literature, a Comparative Literature course taught by the world-renown Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Today, we are discussing Ngũgĩ’s own critical work, Decolonizing the Mind, which creates a discussion about the the policing of language in colonized countries. However, these ideas don’t exist simply on the page. In class, Ngũgĩ tells us about stories about his own childhood in Kenya and attending British-run schools, how he experienced the brutal effects of colonization firsthand. It felt like such an intimate perspective, one I felt so honored to have access to.
After class, I retreat to Starbucks for my New Forum. With my late afternoon latte in hand, I am prepared to face my editorial team. My editorial team and I are talking about the sixty writing and artwork submissions we received for the Fall 18 Issue. It’s the New Forum’s first publication of the year. We are bracing ourselves for the amount of poems, short stories, photos, and artwork we have to sift through, but there is an air of excitement. We still have a week until deadline! After we catch up, we discuss the schedule for the selection process and the social media campaign for the Issue Release party. Being Editor-in-Chief is a lot of work, but having a responsive and passionate team makes the work so much more joyful.
By sunset, I am reaching the final part of my day. After setting all of my ducks in a row with class, thesis work, and the New Forum, I can engage with a stress-relieving creative outlet. At the end of my busy Tuesdays, I have Soulstice League. This comedy sketch group is close to my heart. I am one of two captains of this year’s team, and before the meeting I meet up at the Anthill Pub and Grill with Lani Nugent, my co. Over a pint of beer and chicken tenders, we brainstorm our next sketch -- maybe a song parody about UTC living or a reality TV show trailer about finals week. During the meeting, our team gathers around the ASUCI Conference and we exchange scripts. Laughs, cries, gasps of confusion or horror could perhaps be heard from the outside. But it’s always the perfect way for me to end my day.
By 10 p.m., I come home to an apartment with my housemates lounging in the living room. BTS travel vlogs or some film franchise is playing -- we regularly do marathons of both. Today, I turn in early. I’ve had a long, tiring, ordinary, and ultimately wonderful day. This is my life of my fourth year of undergrad -- different clubs, assignments, and people at every hour. But at the end of my day, every part of it feels like home.