Yet another ‘oh look, the start of term’ blog post….

Apologies for the lack of posts recently.  I’ve been off on leave for a couple of weeks, but although this blog is written in my own time and in a personal capacity, I decided to ended up taking a complete break from all things research funding related.  And yes, I did have a nice break, thanks for asking…. part ‘stay-cation’ and part ‘prepare for house move that won’t now take place this leave year after all’

“Hello! Hello! It’s good to be back!”

I managed to miss the first week of term, although the return of the students is fairly hard to miss in university cities like Nottingham.  Suddenly there are young people everywhere, and about a third of them look lost.  I played my part in supporting the student induction experience by giving directions to an undergraduate who had lost herself between two of the University of Nottingham campuses (campi?).  Easily done.  This is usually been the limit of my interaction with undergraduates, other than telling them that, no, I don’t know the code to the computer room, and that they should ask at reception.

Universities are strange, almost depressing, places outside term time.  A little bit like I’d imagine the whole world would be after a ‘rapture’ of the kind that some odd kinds of Christians are expecting.  Sure, it’s nice for a day or so to have the place to ourselves, but when the students go, so does the infrastructure.  Limited choice of sandwiches at lunchtime, a reduced bus service, and of course, the staff slope off as well.  Academics for a combination of annual leave and research time (except this year, of course.  Thanks, ESRC, for those September deadlines.   Thank you so much), and the rest of us will also look to take the bulk of our leave then too.  On one level, you’d think it would a good time to get things done, but on the other, the people you need to get on board to get any of them done tend not to be around.  And as we’ve seen, no time of the year is really any good.

Does anyone else play the ‘out of office’ lottery?  Trying to predict how many out of office emails you’ll get in a day, or in response to any one particular email.  (On the subject of which, wouldn’t it be handy to have an ‘oh, never mind, enjoy yourself’ option to respond to o-o-o emails with, so that you could delete your original email so they’d have one less to deal with when they return.  I’d also quite like an “I’ve told you once already” o-o-o-email which subtly escalates in annoyance if more emails are received from the same person).

But it’s remarkable how soon the spring in the step fades, even on a warm October morning.  The campus is bustling with activity, when academic and non-academic colleagues are around (if busy) and the corridors are full of students’ chatter.  Office doors everywhere are left just a little bit ajar, colleagues are catching up on their summer holidays research, buses are more frequent (if a little less reliable), optimism and excitement are in the air.and the university feels, well, like a university again.

But then I’m asked for the code to the computer room before I even get as far as unlocking my office door, I have to queue for ten minutes for a sandwich at lunchtime, I can’t get on to the hopper bus after a meeting and have to walk back to base, and corridors are blocked with lost or dawdling students, or just ‘hanging out’.  Though I suspect no-one says ‘hangs out’ any more.  And then I start to yearn for the peace and quiet of the summer.  Almost.

Not really…. Hello, Nottingham University Business School.  Hello, term time.  It’s good to be back.