I love school. I love it so much that I enrolled in a PhD last year, so I would be able to stay in it for another 4-5 years as a student and then stay in it for the rest of my life as a professor.
This is the first time in seven years I am not entering university tomorrow. It’s strange. I don’t regret my choice but I can’t help feeling nostalgic about the smell of new books, the buying of new clothes and the meeting of new colleagues and professors on the first day of school. It used to rhyme with renewal, new chances and new opportunities, new friends and new ideas.
As much as I enjoy my life right now, I am a bit jealous of all of you who stuck to the PhD, who decide to go on despite the insane odds. I lack your courage and your optimism. I am also jealous of all the undergraduates who are entering a new world, either for the first time or for their second, third or fourth year. I used to love looking at my new books and wondering “what will I learn this semester?”
Despite all this, I also see good things happening with this new September. First, I have made amazing friends in this new city and I am happy I get to spend time to get to know them better. I am also keeping one foot (okay, maybe one toe) in the academic world through my online grading at the University of Calgary. I might not be looking for teaching jobs right now, but I haven’t kept it completely off my mind. I just feel like I need to explore new avenues, and happily some of them have opened already.
This new fall also means I will have to take my learning into my own hands. There are no committees to please, no professors to look up to. There is only me and my personal goals. I need to think about my own topics without guidance or even a field specialty to rely on. I have to get a community library card.
This freedom is amazing but it’s also scary. I enjoyed the somewhat unstructured life of higher education, especially at the graduate level. Yet, my life is less structured now than it was even last year, and this leaves me with a lot to learn about self-discipline.
To all of those lucky enough to go back to school tomorrow: enjoy this moment. It’s the best time of your life. Learn as much as you can, write, make friends, party. School is not a chore: it’s a springboard for the rest of your life.