Mara presenting her poster at a recent session.

A day in the life of a Graduate student: Mara Katz

August 26, 2015

Linguistics Master's Student Mara offers her advice for incoming graduate students on taking care of your mental health and the relative merits of Canadian donut holes.

About Mara:

I grew up in the United States and completed Bachelor’s degree programs in Linguistics and Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pittsburgh, and began my program at SFU the fall semester after I graduated from Pitt.

Why she chose SFU:

I applied to about half a dozen graduate programs and chose SFU because I both had the best experience communicating with this Linguistics Department and received the best funding offer here.

How could you not fall in love?

What she likes most about Vancouver:

I visited Burnaby the summer before I moved here and fell in love with the landscape and the weather! 

Advice for students moving to SFU:

You won’t usually need an umbrella while on campus, since most of the campus is under cover, but you will need a good one for going off campus. You also don’t need a lot of cold-weather gear, unless, like me, you have a low cold tolerance.

Insider SFU tips:

When they tell you in orientation to take care of your mental health, they’re not kidding. If you’re tired, stressed, and lonely, you’ll perform worse academically and feel worse about yourself. Make friends inside and outside your department, attend social events, talk to your friends and supervisor about how you’re feeling, and most importantly, eat healthily and get sleep. It is possible to get a graduate degree without pulling all-nighters.

The Tim Horton’s on campus is your friend. To my fellow US citizens: Tim Hortons is like Dunkin’ Donuts but better. It’s a great place for a bagel and cream cheese, or a quick breakfast donut (PS: donut holes are called Timbits up here).

The telescope within the Observatory.

What is the best _____?

Place to study: The Build SFU Think Tank in the Maggie Benston Centre.
View: The roof of the Rotunda, looking South.
Outdoor spot: The Trottier Observatory, especially during star gazing events.

A "typical" day at SFU

Wake up. Try to get another hour of sleep in spite of the sunshine. In winter it’s easier to sleep in because the sun rises later.

Breakfast with my boyfriend, who lives down the hall, (he's in the Chemistry PhD program). At 10:00 I leave for my 10:30 class as I like being early.

Hamilton Hall, SFU's Grad Student residence.

Lunch. If I packed one, I eat in the department with friends. If not I got to the Dining Hall or Mackenzie Cafe.

Time to get some homework done, either in my office or back in the dorm. My weekly office hours are usually during this time too.

Dinner at the dining hall usually. If my boyfriend and I are eating together instead, I wait for him to get home from the lab and we eat around 6.

Watch some old Doctor Who or a gaming livestream, and maybe get a little more reading done. Bed time is somewhere between 10:30 and midnight.


Connect with Mara or find out more:

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