An Extremely Realistic Week in the Life

In this blog post, I provide an in-depth look into a typical week of my life. As an international Ph.D. student researching internet memes, the activities I took up this week are a great representation of the different aspects of my identity. So, if you are curious as to what I do in a week, keep reading further!


I started Monday by posting my blog for the previous week. I wrote about a feature extraction algorithm that is able to handle images and text information, really key when working with internet memes!

Then, I started preparing documents for the renewal of my Italian residence permit. As an international PhD student, I have to renew my stay permit every one or two years. And the key to Italian bureaucracy is preparation.

In the afternoon, I did some more bureaucratic tasks. I applied for travel authorization to carry out research activities at the University of Oslo in a few weeks. Then, I requested reimbursement for my latest conference in Turin.

Finally, I ended my day with a tempo run around the walls of Lucca.


On Tuesday morning, I started a pre-registration for my upcoming project on regional internet memes. Pre-registration is the first step in the open science method.

I shifted gears the in afternoon and put on my secretary hat. I am a student representative on the Joint Student Teacher’s Board. Since we were having a meeting later in the week, I wrote up the contents of the previous meeting into minutes.

Later in the evening, I worked on finalizing the questions for the study I pre-registered. I decided to add one last question and leave it at that. There should be a delicate balance between gathering maximal information and requesting minimal effort on behalf of participants to ensure the highest survey response rate.

I finished my Tuesday by going to our internal gym and some heavy lifting weights.


Early Wednesday morning, I went to the Questura for my residence permit appointment. Thanks to an agreement between Questura and my university, the process took less than 30 minutes! And, I was there with fellow students and we were able to help each other when needed.

Inspired by my bureaucratic success, I went down to the commune of Lucca to inquire about more details of the carta d’identita. This is an electronic identity card that is issued by the Italian government. Unfortunately, I found out that it requires a “residenza”, which I do not have as I stay in temporary student accommodation.

Later in the morning, I had my bi-monthly therapy session to process all of the things that happened in the past two weeks.

After lunch, I took a final look at my pre-registration document. I checked all the hypotheses, experimental design, sampling plan, and planned analyses. Everything looked good so I posted it on OSF.

Then, I turned my attention to my previous experiment on internet memes. Since I was changing topics, I decided to change my environment as well. I went to the IMT library and updated the paper’s methods and results. This was quite an easy task since I already had a good draft of the sections.

I ended Wednesday with another run around the walls. This time, I did an interval speed run that had me burning by the end. I came home feeling a bit defeated by the run but still proud I finished it.


On Thursday morning, I went back to the library and started writing the discussion of my paper. Since I had written out the methods and results, I had to interpret what this meant in the context of my previous hypothesis and the general literature on internet memes.

Then, since it was Thanksgiving, I went to the supermarket after lunch to grab ingredients for the International Student Union Thanksgiving dinner. When I got back home, I started working on my pumpkin pie creme brulee first. Then I made some roasted garlic potatoes. And finally, I got a slice of brie that needed no prep.

I arrived at the Thanksgiving potluck and spent the rest of the night with good food and even better friends!


I started my day with breakfast and a cappuccino and cornetto. Then, I went to the library again to write the introduction to my paper. This was very hard since I did not have a previous draft. I almost worked through lunch before getting it done.

Once I finished the draft of the entire paper, I sent it via email to my supervisors. I also sent them updates about the other activities (the pre-registration and travel authorization forms) that I did earlier in the week.

In the afternoon, I attended the Joint Student Teacher Board’s monthly meeting and took notes. I wanted to do the minutes after the meeting but it ran long and I was tired.

I went back to my room for an hour and relaxed before heading for the gym again.

Then, I got invited to an aperivito in the center of Lucca with a few friends. Before I left, however, I took advantage of a Black Friday deal with a website hosting platform. Since my current plan is very expensive (around 135 euros a month to renew the discounted “first-year plan”), I got a two-year subscription for less than 70 euros! Goes without saying that this website and blog will be online until I finish my Ph.D. program.

After the apertivo, I went with my friends to one of the best pizzerias in Italy: Pizzeria Sud. I went out of my comfort zone and tried a pizza with anchovies. Although it won’t be my favorite I’ve ever tried, I’m glad I got to experience it.

After the pizza, my friends and I went to the living room and played some games. We played many rounds of table tennis and a few rounds of foosball.

Then, I went back to my room and washed my hair. I finished around 1 am but continued to stay up late.


Because I went to bed late, I spent most of Saturday morning sleeping. When I did get up, I spent most of the time lying in bed! As the title says, this is a very realistic week for me.

In the evening, I went to my Ethiopian friend’s house because she was hosting an Ethiopian dinner for a group of Lucca locals. I helped in the kitchen and documented the entire event in general.


I also woke up a bit late on Sunday. I stayed in my room and watched some Netflix for the majority of the morning. I got lunch from the canteen and continued until mid-afternoon.

Then, I did my long run of the week around 3 pm. I ran 4 miles down by the river trail, which I hadn’t been to in a while.

I couldn’t think of what to write about this week for my blog. Then I got the idea to document what happened this week! A day in the life or week in the life videos are common these days but a blog post is more interesting.

So that was my very realistic week in the life of Sam Ayele. I hope you enjoyed reading it and stay tuned for more blog posts as we finish the year of blogging out strong!!

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