Thursday, 16 January 2014

Exam Invigilation Round 7

It's that time of year again--exam invigilation! Time to brush up on my pacing skills and get my spare pens, erasers and tissues out. We're under-staffed this time, so I'm working all day, every day for both weeks (I get an afternoon off on the last day).

I really do enjoy it, as boring as it sounds--it's interesting to see a different side of the University, and to see what else is going on around here. I like to help the students and try to make them feel relaxed. So many of the invigilators are too harsh & cold, but I always smile at them and say please & thank you. Also, it's easy money and only comes round twice a year. I'm grateful for the opportunity to get a bit of extra work.

I can't believe it's my 4th year of doing this. The exams office has had a hiring freeze for the past couple of years, so those of us who are working this time are all quite seasoned pros. Everything seems to be running much more smoothly this time, as we all know what we're doing. Experience makes a huge difference.

The only downside to the whole invigilation thing is the fact that this month is just ridiculously busy (submitting my dissertation, getting our kitten, working on a visa application) and I'm working full time for 2 weeks of it. I thrive under pressure, though, so I'm going to be brilliant this month! But it might just take all of February to recover...

Another comeback that occurred to me days after the fact...

In my last supervision meeting, I gushed about my brilliant Excel sheet of all Board of Foreign Scholarships appointees since 1946--it had taken a week to compile out of all of my archive notes and a bit of extra newspaper archive searching. I was pretty excited about it and I was told, jokingly, "You're not a real historian--they get excited about dust."

I laughed, but now, the next day, I realise that I should have replied "No, I'm a modern-day historian--we get excited about digitising the dust."

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Writing Up Month

Well, it's finally here--my deadline is looming at the end of January! I've got mixed emotions about the whole thing. Just like high school & undergrad graduations, there's a sense of being both excited and scared about the next step. I've applied to a few postdocs and I've been accepted for a conference in June, but I'm taking this month off from the whole job search. It's a busy month--on top of writing up, I've got exam invigiliation, placement work and marking to do. Richard's going to be cooking a lot of meals and watching films by himself while I write in the evenings!

I haven't been updating the blog mainly because I've been hesitant to publicly talk about my department online. I don't want to get in trouble for criticising it, and I also believe that in terms of a work-related blog, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". It's not all bad--there are still some great people around and some interesting work being done in other research areas. It's just a personal thing--my research area is gone and it's affected me more than I thought it would. I just don't feel welcome there and it doesn't feel like home anymore.

They're even considering changing the name of the department. Apparently the powers that be think that "Institute" emphasises research over teaching (I didn't know that was a bad thing, but maybe it is in today's HE market), and that the word 'media' needs to be included in there somewhere. An email went round asking for thoughts on the name change & suggestions for new names, and I couldn't even bear to reply. It was just another reminder that I don't belong here. They might as well change the name, because it bears no resemblance to the ICS that I joined in 2008 (or even just in 2010).

In some ways, I feel validated by the name change--it's not just me who thinks the department has changed dramatically!