Every morning I wake up, get dressed, put on my make-up, drink a glass of cold milk with no sugar and then I walk to the University. It takes me about 10 minutes. Living in a huge metropolis like Istanbul where most people have to commute for at least an hour or more and change a few public transportation vehicles to get to work, I must say I am blessed by my morning exercise of walking to my office, which is kind of like a second home to me.
The fact that my office is a second home to me is reflected in the way I decorate it. I know that some people like a pure and simple office: a desk on which a computer sits, a chair, shelves full of books and folders and a desk lamp, maybe a few things on the walls and nothing more. I actually do have all of that. I have even been told that it is some people’s preference to keep their office as plain as possible so that they can separate their workplace and their home. Just like they do not like taking work home, they do not like creating an office atmosphere that feels like home.
I don’t like taking work home either. And whenever I can, I try to leave the office after having completed the things to do for the day. To this end, I need one thing: I need my office to be cosy and homey so that I can feel at ease there and do the work I am supposed to do without having the feeling of "I must get out of here... soon!"
I have a homey office at the University. My colleagues and my students honor me by saying that this is the cosiest office that they have seen. My colleagues sometimes drop by for a chat, saying that at moments of distress or boredom it feels good for them to inhale the atmosphere of this office. I even had one student who admitted that she asked herself if she would like to become an academic after seeing my office. I like customizing and personalizing the environment that I am in with carpets, posters, flowers, pillows, mirrors and smaller decorative objects in a harmony of colors and I most certainly do not like sterile, non-places. I believe a person's personality is reflected in where they live and work and I absolutely try to put my hallmark to my office.
In an ideal world, one would stick to the 40 hour work week and leave work at the work place and come home for a more private life. Yet, my professional field, International Relations, which needs one to constantly update herself, and my professional activities outside of the University (such as writing for University of Venus) do not allow me to just come home and leave my work behind. Short of this ideal of separation of office and home, I find myself having to work from home at times. And for this I have a small office corner in my home which is a part of my large kitchen in my current apartment. In this context, the home-office is an integral part of home, an extension of the apartment and thus its atmosphere is not much different than my office at the University. I can easily say that I have continuity when it comes down to my office spaces, be it my homey office at the University or my home-office at home.
Separation of home and office, private life and work hours is an ideal. But when your profession becomes a part of your personality, and it often does when you are an academic, I find a more integrated approach to be healthier, all the while trying to avoid excesses. Cosying up my University office and setting up a mini office at home is my way of such integration.
Itir is a founding member of the editorial collective at University of Venus.