Planning for Spontaneity

The writers at UVenus share their goals and dreams for the summer. 

June 15, 2017

What are your plans for the summer?

Lee Skallerup Bessette, Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA: Summers have become a kind of contested space in our family now; since I’m now in a 12-month alt-ac position and my husband has left academia altogether, our summers are no longer as flexible as they once were. To compound the situation (which our children have not yet quite adapted to), my husband has a number of important annual events that can only take place over the height of summer, leaving us unable to really take a real vacation. And even though the work slows over the summer for me, there still isn’t time to do the kind of research and writing I used to undertake over the summer months (and forget about a research trip of any kind!). So, the kids are doing swim team and day camp, and I’m still coaching swimming. Living in the state that we do means it’s easier to do weekend or day trips to the beach, at least. Plus, the kids’ school here doesn’t start until after Labor Day, so a trip to Montreal before the semester starts is in order, ostensibly for DH2017 Conference, but really, to visit family and celebrate my 40th birthday in my hometown.

Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, Lund, Sweden: Mine will be a typical academic summer, combining a bit of downtime with some writing work and some conferencing. I have three article projects going on at the moment, in different stages of completion, and all of them will get some attention over the summer. I will also travel to two conferences abroad, which will offer a break from the tedium of being at the desk, staring at the screen and typing away. In between these two academic activities I will take some time off, enjoying the beautiful Scandinavian nature (hopefully not too drenched in the rain) and getting some inspiration from the world of arts (museums and plays). I think any creative person (and researchers most certainly fit this category) needs some time away from their ongoing projects to re-calibrate, re-center and get some perspective over one’s main goals.

Meg Palladino, New Haven, CT:  As the director of Summer Session, summer is my busiest time of year.  I’ll be managing students and faculty and residential life - it’s intense! I try to sneak in some fun summer activities, like beach trips and lazy reading hours, but I am really looking forward to the fall, when everyone else on campus is busy, and I can relax and enjoy the fall foliage and fall weather.

Rachel Ellett, Beloit College, WI: Summer is a study in contrasts and contradictions. It feels like we have all the time in the world to wrap up those stubborn projects that don’t quite make it over the finish line, but yet just as we relax into the summer at the end of May, it's suddenly June.  June means that there is only one month - July - standing between me and August. August means the end of summer and thinking about, if not actually starting, teaching again. So it is a study in contrasts or perhaps tightly packed, yet distinct, alternating layers of tension and panic, as a conference paper needs to be finished on time, with blissful peace and relaxation going for a bike ride or swimming in the pool. Most important is having the space to find calm and think the thoughts you have no time to think during the semester.

Anna CohenMiller, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan: Northern Kazakhstan has beautiful summers. And in Astana this June, the Expo has just opened making the whole city come alive with events and swarming with international guests. This is also a time where our graduate school of education is in full swing, teaching intensive summer courses (condensed semester long courses within a two week face-to-face course) and helping guide thesis students through the beginning or end of their work. It’s a fun place to be in the beginning of the summer, and one that is sometimes hard to leave. So this year, we will stay in Kazakhstan until the middle of the official summer break (longer than normal) and then take some time to visit family and friends in the States. Some aspects have been pre-scheduled with multiple international and national stops, driving jaunts, large and small planned events, and deadlines for a journal I edit. Other aspects are ones I want to fit time in for: finishing four articles and writing two IRB applications to start new studies (we will see if this is too grandiose for a plan!). Lastly, the most important aspect I want to remember (and voice for myself and for others), is remembering that the summer is a great opportunity to recharge and enjoy time as an academic, and as mother of two little ones. Fortunately, as a #motherscholar, some of the best ways to recharge involve biking, swimming, and ice cream. So here’s hoping your summer includes all the aspects important!

What are you summer plans? Are you taking a vacation? Spending time with family and friends? Just beginning a sabbatical? Traveling for fun and/or research? Catching up on writing projects? How do you find time for yourself, your work, your family? If you are moving into an administrative or faculty role, how are you approaching the summer differently?


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