Oxford does not have Fall, Winter, and Spring terms. Instead they have Michaelmas, Hilary, and Trinity, named after religious holidays that occur during these periods. Each of these terms is a mere eight weeks long. This feels very short for an academic term, but I like the idea of eight weeks of hard work, followed by very long breaks for productive gallivanting at conferences. The term isn’t quite a sprint from start to finish, but it is very intense, and it is a far cry from the four month semester marathon that many schools have (I don’t know how anyone survives that).
So tomorrow marks the end of Hilary term. Assuming I don’t get hit by a bus, I can declare victory – I have officially survived my first term!
This week everyone has been asking me “So how did you do for your first term?” All told, I think I’ve done ok. Better than I expected, as I was mentally preparing myself for complete chaos. By mid-term, I felt like I had found a good stride, and I’ve been fairly comfortable (albeit very busy) since then. At any rate, I had no major disasters, so that is enough to declare my first term a big success. Of course, I could have used a bit more sleep here and there, and perhaps I could have used a bit more time to unpack all those boxes that are still sitting in my guest room. And I certainly would not recommend starting a term with scarlet fever. But in summary, with one term finished, I’m really enjoying this (Yes, I do miss all my friends and family back home … but that just means you all have to come and visit me! [I even have hand-soap] ).
Bright and early saturday morning I hop on a plane and I’m back to the US of A for the term break. I’ll be in exciting Pittsburgh at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society (the world’s largest meeting of physicists each year – about 6000 of us) then on to Santa Barbara for three weeks of conferencing at the Kavli Center, a quick stop on the east coast, then back to Oxford to start Trinity term – and so it goes.
Let the reverse culture shock begin!