Lonely platform (Photo by Tseen Khoo)
How many of you like feeling ignorant and dependent?
Me neither! But that’s how I’ve felt for the past month and a half.
Since I started my new job, I’ve been acclimatising to a new institutional structure, set of personnel, and need to find the right rooms (and buildings).
It has been hard. Harder than I’d thought starting new jobs normally would be.
The reason for this is that the new job is accompanied by a bigger, and more disruptive, commute.
Previously, I had a simple commute that was a half-hour train ride into the city.
Now, I have a two-step commute: a half-hour train ride into the city, then a 1-hour bus ride to the campus. That’s three hours a day on public transport.
When I told people about my new commute, they would cluck sympathetically.
Many of them asked why I didn’t just drive there myself, instead of ‘wasting time’ on public transport. There are quite a few reasons, including environmental and financial ones that I won’t bore you with. But, yes, reasons.
Others immediately offered suggestions about how I could best use the time, different ways to do constructive things, and resources I could load on various devices. There are lots of people out there who have given thought to, and written about, productive commuting, if this is anything to go by.
From the start, the conversations around my new job ended up as discussions about how to make the commuting time work for me, about not wasting it. I found myself talking like that, too, and feeling that it would be terrible to ‘lose’ that time. I was stressing about it ever so slightly.
Heaven forbid that anyone in academia is unproductive.
In practice, after more than a month’s experience, this is what happened.