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Six months of Günther

Graduate School: Applying, Living, Thesising

The Professional Student is a blog about everything grad school from the application process to my experiences living as a grad student, being a parent in grad school, and researching the role of chemistry in the evolution of our universe.

Six months of Günther

Olivia Wilkins

Six months ago, I was at a different institution in a different country on a different fellowship. Six months ago, my husband and I took on new roles, much different than any we had previously held. Six months ago, Günther made us a family.

Today we celebrate not only Günther's birth but six months of growth, trans-Atlantic and trans-continental adventures, and lots of giggles, smiles, and snuggles—for all three of us.


Our first family photo

Güni fed up with the U.S. Consulate when applying for his passport

Since May, Güni has traveled the world, living about two months each in Köln, Germany; New Oxford, PA; and Pasadena, CA. He rode numerous trains on the Deutsche Bahn. He got his passport and even got his first passport stamp (he wasn't supposed to get a stamp, but the border control officer in Frankfurt was so excited to have a blank passport that he decided to give Güni one anyway). He flew transatlantic (and without crying once!).


Günther's gone on vacation in a span of climates, from the lush mountains of West Virginia to the dusty desert of southern California. He traveled across the country, from PA to California, a distance of over 2,900 miles.

Günther loving the VLA near Socorro, NM, a major stop on our road trip to grad school


Günther resting, no longer able to tolerate Taco

He learned how to roll over, he's learning how to crawl, he's learning how to feed himself (read: he knows how to grab the food on the end of a spoon and make a mess). He began sleeping through the night (which was disrupted by teething, right before midterms... #GradSchoolProblems).


He's celebrated his first holiday (Halloween) with us.

Our first Halloween as a family

Günther has also been an important part of my graduate studies so far. While I'm working late on problem sets or reading students' papers, Alex will "take the Gün," keeping him happy while I finish up work at home. In the evenings, however, Günther loses patience with me and decides that he'd rather watch a movie with both of his parents or crawl around on the floor with us or have me hold him while we watch Daddy make dinner. Not only is Güni an awesome addition to Alex's and my coffee dates, but he also forces me to take a break from my work. (Alex tries to do this too, but Güni is less tolerant of my refusal.) In essence, my family has helped me find a work-life balance I feared I would not be able to grasp, and it has made my first term at Caltech so much more enjoyable.

Günther "helping" me with research over coffee

Günther has learned, grown, done so much, and I am so excited for this adventure to continue.