The christmas break was, for me, less of a break and more of a very brief hiatus. I carried several of the books necessary to plan this quarter’s classes with me across the ocean and back, and while I didn’t work on our two days in London, or our two nights in Bristol, I did work several of the days we were at my mum’s.
The hope was that I’d enter this quarter feeling a chunk more prepared than the last. I’ve now learned a little more what I need to have ready and I know a bit more about what the students here want/expect (which is very different to what I was accorded in university). Some of those things I’m happy to give, some I’m happy to meet half-way, and some will remain verboten. So I had a vague plan of action. But in my selection of books I made a fundamental error – which was that I carried the wrong edition of one of them. This was both a weight and size issue. I thought I could get away with it, but I couldn’t. Which meant I rapidly abandoned the idea of using it to work out readings.
I also didn’t bother with one of them because I thought, incorrectly, that the syllabus from last year already had the page numbers in – so I thought I’d just be checking them when I got back. It turned out that that syllabus doesn’t have page numbers in so I spent a very stressful block of time yesterday running through it with the index to try and locate everything in the syllabus.
I also didn’t check the calendar. Having got back I discover that I’ve got 11 units but only 8 weeks to teach them in. Actually, there’s really a 12th unit – which is one pulled from the last quarter to try and support the students. It turns out that may have not been the best plan, perhaps I should have only pulled one week of it. This is a live-and-learn thing.
The whole of this experience has been a live and learn thing, and like when I started I’m still feeling that existential discomfort that comes from me not really feeling like me. It’s perhaps been made worse by visiting the UK which (despite the staggering increase in racism and downward spiral in civil liberties) still, in the places we visited, largely felt the same*.
At the end of it all, I can’t shake this feeling of weariness. I feel a lot like I’ve run a marathon and got to what I thought was the end and found that actually it’s the 1/3rd mark. I hoped to come back feeling recharged and positive. And I know that in every new job I spend the first few months in a mixture of terror and faux-confidence and then after that I have a period of thinking “Was this completely insane to do this”.
Usually this settles down, but right now it’s feeling stronger than ever. And I worry that of the options open to me – this – which seemed like the most interesting and something I’ve wanted to try for a while – may not have been the path I should have chosen. I can look back and say that while the ER was fine, it was exposing the fact that I’m used to so much more freedom as a nurse in the UK. And so much more expectation was placed on me to just do things. And I get bored easily. So I know that…or I think that I don’t want to head back that way. And ER’s here don’t have the 4 hour standard, which kept the pressure up but also kept the flow going. I don’t really know where I’m going with that, other than it didn’t fit me as well as the ED in the UK. Of course, the ED in the UK was driving me nuts as I struggled with the privatization of the NHS, which I fundamentally disagree with, and which was eating away at everything it stands for.
This is all very stream of consciousness, I realise. And I don’t think it’s really going anywhere, other than back to “this is where I am now, and I’ll either settle in to it like I have every other job I’ve come to love, or I’ll decide it’s really not for me, in which case it’s only another 6 months”. But like my current (albeit slow) learning of Norwegian, I like to develop options. I’ve no idea what they should be, and I’m so overwhelmed by the details of what I need to do that having any prospect of an alternate option is unimaginable at the moment.
* with the exception of the border guard making a statement that neither of us was convinced was a joke about Kathryn not having a British passport, and how it would be much better if she did, because they’re the best**…
** Which of course brings me to the fact that I expect that broadly, Germany looked more or less the same in 1938 as it did in 1932. I realise that is a stark contrast to draw, probably more applicable to my current home at this point than to my former home. But as the immigrants and muslims out rhetoric has become the background noise of living there, and as state surveillance for all has become law, I worry more and more.