Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Life of a Grad Student

Today I really feel like a stereotypical grad student beginning the moment I stepped out of the house wearing a cord blazer. I proceeded to whip out my binder of student presentations for correction on the Strassenbahn and got through most of my work in time for my stop. Thursday mornings are, perhaps my favorite because, every second week, I get off at a different stop than normal in order to get to my course. This stop is right near my most favorite coffee shop in all of Mannheim. On most days I don't drink coffee but, every second Thursday I allow myself to indulge and it gives me something to look forward to when I leave the house at 7:30. Today I was particularly early and had work with me so I sat inside and had a leisurely coffee while reading case studies. In the spirit of spring, I ordered my first ice blended concoction of the season. You walk in and are always greeted with a chipper hello, usually in the form of Morgan!, by the barrister. Since the barrister(o?) is always the same man, I guess he may own the shop. His accent gives away that he is Italian and the way he foams the milk and pours the espresso into my latte/cappuccino/iced mocha demonstrates his passion. The reason I've never had a bad beverage is because every thing is made to order with love. Maybe I read too many Nespresso cases this morning but I really notice the difference in coffee quality and overall experience. Even if you take your coffee to go, you get the same friendly greeting and service and everyone gets a ciao on the way out the door. Two weeks ago, while waiting for my caramel macciato, a man walked in. The barrister knew him and asked if he wanted his usual cappuccino to which he replied, he would take two today. Apparently this man met a woman on the Strassenbahn and offered to buy her a coffee. As he explained, a giddy expression over took his face and the barrister shared in his joy like an old friend. Clearly this place has a lot of regulars and I long to be one but it is just not close enough to my office or home for daily visits and I don't really need a coffee habit. Back to my day as a stereotype, I put my blazer back on and left the coffee shop, stood in front of a class of bachelor students and proceeded to sit on desks and ask thought provoking questions. Maybe that is not so much of a stereotype. Once the course was over, I headed back to my office for a day of research. As I unlocked my door, I learned from a colleague that we now make more money. Before your celebrate for me, in typical University fashion, it's not a significant change, about 5 EUR per month which results in close to 3 EUR after taxes, but it's enough to buy a coffee.

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