Alejandro D. González López
Alejandro D. González López, MAIDP'20

As a continuation of our "Day in the (Virtual) Life" series, Alejandro D. González López, MAIDP'20, writes and reflects on what a typical day looked like for him during the spring quarter.

Life has taken an unexpected turn for all of us these past few months. I have adjusted accordingly to a daily routine that is far from what I would have imagined for my last quarter at Harris.

I am spending most of my days inside my small but cozy apartment in Hyde Park. It’s very close to campus and near Salonica, my favorite neighborhood restaurant.

8 a.m. – Wake up. I sleep in a little more these days and do not feel rushed to get to class right away. I awake each morning to a concert of birds singing outside my window then have breakfast and spend some time in quiet prayer before I start my activities for the day.

8:45 a.m. – Read my morning news round-up, which includes finding out what is happening in places that are especially relevant to me: United States, Latin America, Cuba, and Miami. I am not much of a morning person, so I need to ease into the day.

10 a.m. – Get started on my first “work block” of the day. This is the time I spend watching recorded lectures and doing any assigned readings for my classes. I especially like my Program Evaluation recorded lectures because I get to pause and rewind when I don’t quite understand the material. (Needless to say, I press “pause” and “rewind” often.) I swear that I am finally doing well on my problem sets because of that “pause” button! You don’t get to do that during live, in-person classes.

1 p.m. – Break for lunch. While I admire all these new brilliant chefs who have surfaced on social media during the shelter in place order, I am not one of them. I stick to the basics. My taste buds have been suffering, but I can proudly say that I have in fact lost weight because of my new limited cooking lifestyle. I can finally comfortably fit into my suits again. Just in time for video interviews!

2 p.m. – After lunch, I’ll get started on my second “work block” of the day, where I do homework. I have one assignment per week for each of my three classes, and I often use this time to work  with some of my classmates on the assignments. If there’s one thing that has not changed in a virtual environment, it’s the camaraderie of Harris students. We are all still helping each other out and being very supportive. I have used my dial-a-friend lifeline a lot for my homework assignments this quarter!

5 p.m. – I am tired of staring at a computer screen, so I take a nice, long walk around Hyde Park with a friend. This is my moment to unwind. Neha Lalwani (MAIDP’20), Rahul Kulkarni (MPP’21), Annie Kuster (MAIDP’20), and Arturo Juarez (CIR’20) are my go-to walk buddies. Safety first, though! We wear masks and stay six feet apart.

During my late afternoon walks, I enjoy watching the sunset, listening to the birds chirping away, stopping to take pictures by the colorful tulips, and noticing how the trees seem to have more leaves and flowers each day. I have spotted cardinals and blue jays, visited the Botany Pond to meet the new ducklings, and run into bunnies hopping away on neighborhood lawns. I have two rules for conversations during walks: no mention of school or COVID-19. This has allowed me to learn about my walk buddies, their passions and their lives before UChicago.

7 p.m. – Dinner time usually follows my walk. I’ll also use this time to FaceTime my parents before they go to bed. As an only child from a Cuban family, I speak to mom and dad everyday: that’s non-negotiable.

7:30 p.m. – After dinner, I start my third “work block” of the day. This one is dedicated to my TA duties for Policy Implementation, an undergraduate course for students in Public Policy Studies. I spend time grading assignments, responding to student emails, reading course material, and planning my weekly discussion section. I love working with the undergraduate students. They are curious, hardworking, and engaging. Serving as a TA has been one of my favorite activities at Harris.

9:30 p.m. – As I start unwinding for the day, I FaceTime with my girlfriend.  We’ve been having virtual museum dates, happy hours, and dinners. We also write each other letters and send surprise gifts via mail.

10:30 p.m. – I like to do yoga just before going to bed. Paulina Ugalde (MPP’21) got me hooked on Beachbody Yoga. I am doing their three-week yoga retreat now. That’s probably the second reason why I can fit into my suits again! Yoga helps me align my body and build core strength after a long day of sitting down.

11:00 p.m. – I go to bed late. I like to watch a show or read a book before the day is over. Right now, I am wrapping up Ken Burns’ documentary series on The Vietnam War. It’s absolutely breathtaking and I highly recommend it.

11:45 p.m. – I conclude my day, as I started it, in prayer. I end with The Examen, a review of my day inspired by Ignatian Spirituality.

Alejandro is graduating this quarter. Read these other posts to gain a picture of his Harris experience throughout the year.