Sunday, January 26, 2014

Professor for one year (week 38 and 39): Professional health pattern

The last teaching week in 2013, I was quite happy to still feel good.  I didn't catch a cold so far although a lot of people got sick around me.  But then came Christmas and a two weeks break.  And guess what?  After three days off (I slept longer, started to read one of the books from my ever growing to-read-shelf, had nice walkings in almost sunny weather, no class preparations, checking my e-mail accounts only once a day, ...), I first faced a sore throat and that was the end of my holidays. 

As usual, I had a really bad cold and couldn't enjoy my vacation as much as I hoped to.  But I could have probably guessed it:  There seems to be a professional health pattern with teachers/instructors.  Everybody thinks they have a lot of vacation and in general don't do much.  However, comes vacation, they get sick and don't do all the exciting stuff they planned to do.  We do everything to not get sick during a lecture period, we try all kinds of household remedy to fight first signs of sore throats, colds of even flu.  We actually give classes on crutches or with really bad back aches.  We even try to schedule surgeries and long-term treatments to take place during vacation and live on painkillers until then.

You can probably guess the profession of patients when looking at when they get sick -- people facing health problems during their vacation are most probably teaching somewhere.

However, we could enjoy a few Winter days at the Baltic Sea:

It looks a bit like a Caspar David Friedrich painting, doesn't it?

Professor for one year (week 37): Winter term break

Some weeks ago, I commented on term dates and my feelings towards winter term.  Actually, it's not 4 but 6 weeks of teaching after New Year.  This means, the Christmas/New Year break is roughly in the middle of winter term.

I felt uncomfortable with teaching after New Year, but this was mainly due to having still contact with colleagues teaching in Switzerland.  I don't feel exhausted the way I usually feel at the end of a semester, i.e., like this owl posted on Facebook some time ago:

In fact, having a break in the middle of the term offers some chances:

  • I will start the second part of the term with a repetition/summary.  When there's no break, I usually don't do this because I'm hesitant to "lose" a session while there is so much students should get to know/practice.
  • Students have a bit more time for "homeworks." And I hope this pays off with respect to quality.  Usually, they have two weeks for submitting assignments.  I don't include the days of the Christmas/New Year break.
  • I have some time to unwind and I hope to be not as exhausted as usually at the end of the term.
However, it still feels odd that the week after Winter term in Konstanz ends, Spring term in Switzerland starts. So I'm very happy to have no teaching appointment in Switzerland for Spring.