Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Break 2008

It's spring break in Texas. The University, primary and secondary public schools are on break. So, where are most of us astronomers spending our vacations? Are we on the beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast? Or jetting off to Mexico, tropical islands, or other exotic locales?

For most of us, no. We are enjoying the quiet week here on campus. No meetings, no classes, no need to time trips to campus to avoid class changes, plenty of parking. Why fight throngs of students on South Padre Island when I can walk to my favorite lunch locale without waiting for a seat? Or why sit in traffic trying to drive to the coast when the Austin freeways actually move near the limit at rush hour?

The lack of afternoon science talks and meetings gives a large chunk of uninterrupted time for research work. The only drawback to the week is the closure of the espresso cart in our building. (And if that's the worst thing about the week, life is good.)

Academic life seems to involve a love-hate relationship with the students we are here to serve. Salaries are supported by the tuition of the students in the classes we teach, and most astronomers enjoy teaching and spreading the excitement of what we do. But it does get to be a drain when we have to squeeze onto a bus with young people carrying backpacks that smash into our faces, when we squeeze into an elevator with students who feel the need to ride up one floor, or when half our class is busy texting during a lecture we've taken hours to prepare (and these same students complain afterwards that material on the exam was not covered in class).

So, we enjoy these quiet weeks as vacations: time to reconnect with our research work and our love for the science. And, when tanned students come back next week and start complaining that they did their homework over Spring Break but forgot it at home (yeah, right!), hopefully our batteries will be recharged.

No comments:

Post a Comment