A day in the life
Off went the alarm at 7:30 am. Catherine donned her usual work out gear, quietly slipping out the door of the apartment she shared with seven other students. The cold, crisp air hit her, a drastic contrast to the 100 degree sun at 6 pm. Finishing her run, she showered and dressed, grabbing her lunch from the fridge while munching on an apple. Cupping her cappuccino from Faborit, she climbed on board the 46 bus stopped along Gran Via, ready to start her day.
Thirty minutes later she stepped into el Laboratorio de Ezfuerza y Fisilogía in the INEF building, one of the many faculties of the Polytechnic University of Madrid. Numerous "buenos dias'es" chirped from the lab technicians, grad students, postdocs, and professors already present, and a brief wave of relief washed over her that "dos besos" were not required for everyday greetings. Accustomed to a firm southern handshake, she found it difficult to change her habit, often resulting in an awkward tango of a handshake, hug and two cheek kisses. Lost in her part of the project, which consisted of designing the resistance protocol to maximize muscle damage in female athletes, she was startled when 1 pm hit and the lab got up for lunch. Lunch never ceased to amaze her. It was so odd to see the professors eating €4 "menus del dia," sitting on benches in the cafeteria next to their students. And though her Spanish had improved enough for her to meaningfully contribute to the conversations, she had never acclimated to the abundance of midday food: water, bread, a first plate, second plate, dessert, coffee. After a two-hour lunch, several hours of work, and a stifling commute, she returned home exhausted, retreating to her room for a siesta. No groceries to buy or laundry to wash today, she read a book, chatted with her international flatmates, and cooked dinner. The sun no longer insufferable, the flat went out for a stroll, stopping for gelato, watching the beautiful sunset from Templo de Debod.