aka ‘the things you don’t have to worry about if you are a full-time student’.
a few weeks ago I accidentally started a minor war at my work place.
let’s set the context. In August last year my colleagues TUPE‘d over to the company we all work for now from another company which had its specific processed and ways of doing things. Some of them, I hasten to add, had nothing to do with anything more than ‘but we’ve always done it’. Boom, the change is done, and I enter the workplace as a complete newbie to my job but a veteran of the company with a good few years behind me. It goes well. I learn my job and enjoy it, and bring in a few new ideas.
Being tied to my PhD as the academic year that goes with it, I calculated my shift pattern for the next three years on a very boring night shift. Let’s be honest, sometimes the only thing that saves a boring night is planing your next getaway. Looked at next year, looked at our online booking system and put some holidays in at a time I knew people rarely wanted. Job done. next step, booking a hotel that was recommended to me the last time I was at my location.
Except it wasn’t that simple. One of my colleagues hit the roof, her argument being ‘but we’ve always waited until we have drawn the rota up’. I could insert a comment here about how she always used to draw the rota up and how mysteriously year after year this rota had her on a holiday for the Christmas period. but I’m not passive aggressive unlike some people *insert a cheeky wink here*.
Now, the only person who my holidays have an effect on is my working partner as both of us cannot be off at the same time. He was fine with it, so there was no issues.
However, there was a great big argument about why it was unfair that I booked my holidays : it was ‘because the rest of us don’t know when we want our holidays’.
Now, here is where the fundamental difference between my life as a PhD student comes to the forefront. I have deadlines, academic years. technically I am supposed to ask for my supervisors for permission to go on holiday – and I emphasize the technical here because as a part-time PhD student I live in a wholly different world to my full-time colleagues. My life is mapped out. I have sent myself a fantasy date by which time I have packed my things up and moved away, changed jobs, started a different life. My life does not have the luxury of not knowing when I want a holiday – it has the luxury of being structured in a way where I know I can toddle off to Seoul for a spring break (which I intend to do) and fly off to Tokyo to see some snow (and hopefully some ice hockey because as John Irving said, ‘you’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed’).
And somehow people struggle with the concept of planning, of structure. In this modern world where you can do anything anytime, it seems that having a structure is somehow frightening. But you know what – there is nothing frightening to me in knowing that come the first week of May in 2017, I will be making like a panda!