The front lawns of Sydney University are bustling with activity today, as the campus readies itself for O Week (short for Orientation Week, even though it only lasts 3 days), setting up stalls and tents as best they can amidst the rain (don’t be fooled by the beautiful blue skies in the photo, they were extremely fleeting). For the last few months the campus has been quiet, largely devoid of students and even of many academic staff – although the tourists have been out in full force. O Week begins tomorrow to officially welcome a new crop of students to the university, although the campus is already getting busier, as international students arrive early to begin to get their bearings, and academics return to their offices. Today there’s a feeling of anticipation, as we prepare for the campus to overflow once again.
Looking over my blog posts for the past 9 months, I can see that many of them are marked by the comings and goings of staff and students around me, and the rhythms of the academic year. These rhythms have to an extent defined my time throughout my PhD research, and yet I’ve also felt somewhat detached from, particularly in the semesters when I haven’t been teaching. Staff and students come and go around us with the schedule of lectures and study breaks and exams and holidays, but in our little corner of the campus, we research postgrads are still here, day after day. Although soon, that too will change – just as thousands of new students are preparing to begin their degrees, I’m coming tantalisingly close to submitting my thesis to the university where I first enrolled almost exactly 11 years ago.