As of 6 p.m. yesterday, I wrapped up my first semester as an assistant professor at Eastern. It took a whole day of grading GEOG 107 exams (with some distractions, as I was also in the process of moving offices up to the main floor of Strong Hall) but I got my grades in two days early. I call that a win.
Despite a few initial moments of fear (and loathing, frustration, surprise, adjustment, etc.) in the first month or two of teaching, my first semester was ultimately a very rewarding and overall positive. There was only one day I wanted to quit or at least pull my hair out—the time when I got back from a long weekend of fieldwork about six weeks into the semester to find my office desk covered with my entire collection of academic books that a mold remediation company was allegedly going to “be very good about keeping organized.” Yeah… that didn’t happen. Oh, and the mold remediation? Took about twice as long as predicted, and no one’s quite sure that it won’t happen again, except that our building is supposed to be renovated starting next summer, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. (And state legislature-willing, too.)
It’s taking some “getting-used-to” to adjust to the heavy teaching load here, and I’m not even at four courses per semester yet. It’s a balancing act to be sure, and my research and writing have certainly slowed.
After far too long (as in, all semester…) I submitted, with a co-author, the last chapter of my dissertation to be reviewed for a journal.
— Matthew Cook, PhD (@Matt_Cook) December 22, 2016
The good news is that we have four months off in the summer…imagine how productive that could end up being!
But other than that, plus a day of trying to figure out what on Earth to do about staying positive after the election, the semester can decidedly go in the “Win” column. I like it here. I like my new colleagues, I love my students (well, most of them—but that’s no different from teaching at UT Knoxville!), I love our new-found singing opportunities and church, and I’m starting to love the area, too. I even think I can survive the winters, just with lots of driving patience, Kleenex, and hand lotion. Seriously—I thought my hands were falling apart in Knoxville during the winters… Oh, and possibly a bigger humidifier. We’re running that thing 24/7!
Anyway, as much as I have missed (and definitely continue to miss) Knoxville and all our friends there—and it’s just about the only place I can think of where a job could tempt me away—I think I will do well here. And that’s very reassuring. (But ask me about it again later when I’m closer to my tenure review!)
In the meantime, while you’re here, look around the site and let me know what’s missing. I always have the best ideas and plans for the website but never the time and energy to get around to it.