A day in the life of Alex Kitson

May 12, 2016

Interactive Arts and Technology master's student and 2016 Three Minute Thesis finalist Alex Kitson talks about the commute to SFU Surrey, living in Vancouver, and her love of whiskey hazelnut icecream!

About Alex 

I moved a lot growing up, mostly around BC. My high school years were spent in a small town called Port McNeill on Vancouver Island, and it's absolutely gorgeous there. Eventually I made my way to UBC for my undergrad in Cognitive Systems. Before making my way to SFU, I did an exchange at ETH in Zürich, Switzerland studying NeuroInformatics.

Why SFU?

The program I'm in, Interactive Arts and Technology, is really unique in that it brings together so many different disciplines. I'm interested in studying the way people behave and perceive the world, and also how we interact with new technologies. I get to work with some of the latest virtual reality technology alongside some of the most creative people I've met. SFU provides the space to explore these concepts and create new knowledge in a rapidly growing field. 

Why BC?

There are so many restaurants and cafes to try out; you’ll never be stuck for what to eat. Plus, there’s so much to discover in and around Vancouver. We are so lucky to live by the mountains AND the ocean! If you like the outdoors, there’s lots of places to hike, ski, snowshoe, cycle, etc.

Advice for new grad students

Take advantage of the fact you’re a student. There are so many different opportunities out there, whether it’s a co-op job, student groups or clubs, contests, workshops, or health resources. Get out there and pursue something you’re interested in because this is the perfect time to do so. 

Contact the CAPE office if you are looking for more ways to get involved!

Kitsilano Beach

Favorite Places 

I like to work at the SFU Surrey campus because we have this great, open desk area, and my desk is by the window. But, sometimes if I don’t want to do the hour commute from Vancouver I’ll go to a coffee shop where there’s some background noise.

So many places! The seawall from Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach, Kits Beach, False Creek, English Bay, and Stanley Park is great for cycling, running, or a picnic. Try out a yoga studio. Right now I go to one of Semperviva’s studios. If you’re looking for complete relaxation, try out Float House. It’s a sensory deprivation tank where you’re suspended in salt water, and it’s completely life changing. Local bookstores like Tanglewood Books or Kidsbooks. There’s something magical about them!

If I’m feeling kind of blah and want a healthy meal, I’ll go to Dharma Kitchen. It’s really cozy and my body is so happy after. My place of indulgence is definitely Earnest Ice Cream. Even though it can be pricy, it’s totally worth it. Plus, they usually have wacky flavours like Whiskey Hazelnut. But, the best thing to do is make your own food. I try to make a big batch of something that will last the week when I’ll be too busy or exhausted to cook. You can even get your groceries delivered to you with services like SPUD!

A "typical" day at SFU

6:30am Wake up.

7:00am Yoga or run. Currently training for the Seawheeze half marathon!

8:30am Commute to Surrey. I live in a neighbourhood called Kitsilano, and it takes a bus ride downtown and then a SkyTrain ride to get to the Surrey campus. I try to make these trips productive by reading, listening to music, or answering emails.

9:30am Research projects or study. I’m trying out the Pomodoro technique where you work for 20 minute periods with 5 minunte breaks, and it really helps with burnout. I’m a very focused person already, so it’s good to force myself to take breaks.

12:30pm Lunch, which I usually pack because we have a kitchen on campus (microwave, kettle, fridge, and freezer). For days that I don't pack a lunch, I'm glad that the SFU Surrey campus is in a mall because there are lots of options at the food court. There is also a T&T in the mall, which is a great Chinese grocery store.

Lunch is a great time to catch up with other grad students who are also really busy!

1:30pm More research and studying. I usually have a meeting with my supervisor, a colleague, or grad student association.

3:30pm Starting to get the afternoon blahs, so I take a walk outside, grab some coffee or do a short meditation to get back some energy. If you’re new to meditation, try out the app Headspace.

5:30pm Commute home.

6:30pm I usually make dinner and unwind by watching TV or playing video games. Making dinner with friends or my boyfriend is a great way to connect, save money, and have lunch for the next day. I also like to fill my evenings up by volunteering at a crisis centre one evening a week. It’s a great way to give back to the community and create more acceptance and awareness around mental health. I’m into making games too, so Full Indie is a good opportunity to get some feedback and meet people.

11:00pm Call it a day and read in bed.  

Find out more

  • Where you can find Alex's work: website
  • Where you can reach out to Alex: LinkedIn

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