Thursday, March 12, 2009

Surviving Hilary

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!


Doug Natelson said...

Hey Steve - I'll see you in Pgh. You might find it interesting to know that my department chairman, an ex-pat Brit, came down with scarlet fever last week after returning from a trip to the UK. What's going on over there?!

Steve said...

See you soon... did your dept chair fly air india like I did?