It’s that time of year again when well-meaning people I know will say something like this to me: ‘ I expect you are now getting busy again.’ I usually nod politely and bite my lip
So says Ferdinand von Prondzynski (president of Dublin City University) on his always-interesting blog, Diary of a University President. In his full post on ‘Returning‘, he talks about the ups and downs of the start of a ‘new’ academic year. Of course, this date can vary (referring now to the start of classes/return of students rather than statutory terms): in Dublin, it was the start of October (as I marked with a New Year post in ’07), for many US law schools it looks like it is this week according to the activity on various blogs I subscribe to (my favourite has been the discussion by Bennett Capers at Prawfsblawg on getting dressed for the first day of class – do read the comments, they are brilliant), in the year I spent in Canada it was just after Labour Day (firmly spelled with a U), and now at UEA, as in much of England, it’s towards the end of September – Monday 21st, to be precise. I understand that TCD’s new semester-based structure means that it will start on the same day too. There you go.
Anyway, in my first proper summer in full-time academic employment, I’ve been having the same experience. A colleague did tell me before that students assumed that, even during the academic year, their lecturers hung upside down (bat-like) in the Law School when not teaching or seeing students. Perhaps. I have certainly heard the ‘enjoying your three months holidays?’ line a little too often, though it is meant well (and there are some teaching occupations where, of course, that is the correct thing to say). As for me (as it’s the end of August, and a good time for looking back), I’ve been having fun both at work – working on PhD so as to submit in September, responding to the unexpected but pleasing media interest in my wireless Internet work, helping out the good folks in ORG, supervising LLM dissertations, preparing next year’s teaching (more on that soon), exam marking (!) and so on – and outside of it, getting a chance to see a little more of Norfolk that I could have during the teaching semesters (including a first taste of the Latitude festival). Sometimes I’ve even combined the two, by making use of the fabulous libraries at Cambridge and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London during the day and doing something there in the evening (including a few Proms).
And, like DCU’s blogging president, I’m looking forward to the change that comes to a campus when a new group of students arrive. Not just the students, but also because we are promised a bigger and better coffee shop according to an email that was circulated to staff today. And the campus literary festival has come up with a shiny list of visiting authors, which is something else to look forward to…