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Being Curious
April 19, 2011 - 8:15pm

The day I am writing this, I am sick. I was supposed to go to the Polish Consulate to do a visa application this morning, as I will be teaching at one of our partner Universities for a week there next month within the Erasmus Exchange Program. I woke up with a runny nose, sore throat, aching muscles and fever. Actually there were the signs that I was catching a cold or a virus or something by Saturday but I thought I would get over that quickly. I did not. So I could not go to the consulate to do my application and I called work and told them that I would not be able to come to work today. I have to give two tests to my students in two separate courses tomorrow so I need to get my batteries charged to be able to go to work tomorrow.

However, as everyone knows, a runny nose and a sore throat are not good company for sleep. After I called in sick, I went back to bed and I turned around and around but could not sleep and I decided not to fight against my mind's will to stay awake and instead, preferred to do something useful. I took all the articles I had saved to read on the new research I am doing on the Space Programs of the Emerging Powers and started to read them one by one: China, India, Brazil, Iran, Pakistan, and the EU, among others.

I realized that I was hardly ever bored during the day; on the contrary, I was reading with such a degree of hunger. I had a clear mind which was ready to absorb the maximum amount of information and I also simultaneously organized my paper-to-be in my mind. I realized then that the last time I had read consistently for research was many months ago. Shouldering an administrative work load had really left me deprived of the greatest joy of being an academic: being curious and going after what I am curious about.

Then I realized that there was more to this line of reason. I was especially happy to be reading on space policy because the topic was providing me with an opportunity to merge my sci-fi loving child self with my adult and academic mind. One profession I had in mind as a childhood dream was that of becoming an astronaut. I was a clever kid so it did not take me long to realize that I was not born in a country which was qualified as “space-faring” at the time (and is not yet space-faring today). I had to drop that dream. Still, ever since I was a kid I have followed many science-fiction TV series (the original and the later versions of the Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century etc.) and films; read my share of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stanislav Lem; followed science magazines and spent long evenings looking at the skies to figure out which star was which.

Now that I think about it, it is a wonder that I did not aspire to study astronomy or something similar. In a way, I was a kid with multiple interests and my curiosity about the cosmos was accompanied by my deep interest in all things social and I chose my place in social sciences. However, my child self apparently found a way of coming back and finding me and saved me from academic hunger and boredom at the same time on a sick day.

Istanbul, Turkey

Itir is a founding member of the editorial collective at University of Venus.


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