It must be great to have a 6 month vacation! (non-academics)
Where is your appointment? (academics)
So, here’s the truth. It was not a 6 month vacation. I would explain to non-academics that it is different work, not less work. If I added up the total number of hours I spent working, it probably would equal less than my non-sabbatical life, if only for the difference in hours spent in meetings. But just like in my non-sabbatical life, almost every week night, and some weekend nights, I stayed up late after the kids went to bed to get additional work done. It was not a giant vacation.
In terms of where my appointment was, I made a conscious decision NOT to affiliate with another university during sabbatical. I wanted 6 months where I was minimally responsible to other people. I personally really appreciated this arrangement, though it did make me realize that in general I enjoy social interactions with my colleagues almost more than I enjoy being home in yoga pants all day.
I’m a list/quantifying type, so I decided to make some lists about my sabbatical accomplishments:
- Submitted 3 new first authored manuscripts
- Submitted 5 new co-authored manuscripts
- Worked on 6 other (2 first-authored) papers not yet submitted
- As issue co-editor, wrote 1 chapter, co-wrote 1 chapter, and edited and sent feedback on 4 other chapters in a forthcoming volume
- Submitted 8 first or co-authored conference presentations
- Gave master lecture at the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (SSEA)
- Gave poster at SSEA
- Organized new mid-career invited symposium for Society for Research on Adolescence
- Chaired review panel for SRA
- Gave talk at Brandeis, my alma mater
- Visited lab groups at Clark and Tufts
- Supervised one completed master’s thesis, 1 completed masters proposal, and 1 close to completed masters proposal
Some not-really-on-sabbatical activities:
- Served on committee for student who finished dissertation
- Interviewed candidates for staff position in department
- Interviewed candidates for head position in department (one at 11:00 PM EST)
- Dealt with some (but relatively minimal) Undergraduate Professor-in-Charge and Graduate Professor-in-Charge tasks
- Reviewed admissions candidates and called some admitted students
- Wrote letters of recommendation
- Wrote one external tenure review
I had fun, too.
- Exercised 91 hours (pilates, yoga, cardio classes, running, and walking)
- Picked kids up at school every day at 3:00 (except Tuesdays and every 6th Thursday at 12:30)
- Volunteered at kids’ school in library and art (It would not surprise anyone who knows me that I am a more helpful library volunteer than art volunteer)
- Took the kids to swimming, art, karate, and tennis lessons
- Explored Boston, including:
- Walked full Freedom Trail
- Visited historic sites including: State House, Paul Revere House, Boston Commons, Granary Burying Ground, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Bunker Hill Monument, USS Constitution
- Rode the swan boats in Boston Public Gardens
- Rode the carousel in Boston Commons
- Boston duck tour
- Elevator to top of Prudential Building
- Stray Boots tour
- Visited the splash pool at Wharf District Park
- Visited Brandeis (my undergrad) and Harvard (husband’s grad)
- Walked along Charles River
- Went to Minuteman National Park and walked the Old North Bridge
- Museums: Museum of Fine Arts (2X), Isabella Stewart Gardner, Children’s Museum (2X), Museum of Science (4X – free with Discovery Space membership!), Aquarium, Mapparium, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Institute of Contemporary Art, deCordova Sculpture Park, Holocaust Memorial
- Went to Providence and the Roger Williams Zoo
- Went hiking in NH, visited Portsmouth, NH, and Kittery, ME
- 5 different beaches (Cape Cod and North Shore), 3 different pools, and a pond
- Ate 10 different types of cuisine (Italian, Chinese, Hot Pot, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican, Tapas, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese)
- 10 different playgrounds
- Rode the red, blue, orange, green, silver lines and the commuter train. But mostly the green line.
- Perhaps not mastered, but handled driving in a city even though I’ve never owned a car while living in a city
- Saw Wicked at the Boston Opera House
- Updated family blog from January 2013-December 2013, including going through 1000’s of photos and videos from the year
- Had 22 different overnight guests
- Saw an additional 15 friends and family in the area
- Read or listened to 15 books
This list is evidence of what happens when you put an overachieving, to do list oriented person in a new city for 5 2/3 months – I kind of approached showing Boston to the kids the same way I would approach any work task. Made a list, worked on crossing things off of it.
Things I wish I had done, or done more of:
- Sleep (why was I still up past midnight every night?)
- New forms of exercise.
- Non-academic class for me: Painting or cooking maybe.
- Cook more new recipes at home. At the start of sabbatical I was trying new recipes every week. Once the kids were back to school I was back to my regular tried and true recipes.
- Worked harder at getting the kids to make friends. They never really integrated into friendship groups at camp or at school. I know I should have worked harder with playdates etc. (I made two all year), but it always seemed like either there would be plenty of time, or like there was barely any time left, so what was the point? And some of not doing it was because we spent so many afternoons and weekends exploring Boston or having the kids in activities.
- Printed years of photo books. I had this grand plan to go through old photos and print some as books.
One of my very favorite things about sabbatical was the decline in emails received. I spent fewer hours every day dealing with email. Maybe only about 50 emails a day? But some of them I could ignore or forward to other people, because… sabbatical.
Non-academics looked at me like I was crazy when they learned that we moved our whole family to a strange city for 6 months. The work to do so in June was incredible, and the work to undo it right now… well, it isn’t all undone yet (I’m filling out school epipen forms 8 hours before the kids restart school, if a snowstorm doesn’t stop that). But I have no regret about the decision to do sabbatical away. Being away truly felt like being away. I had less guilt about the things I wasn’t doing back at work, and more free mental space to work on the things I really wanted to work on. And the 4 of us had the opportunity to explore a city with a limited-time-frame mentality while living there for almost 6 months. How cool is that? Not a 6-month vacation, but a fabulous opportunity nonetheless.
“The post What I did (and didn’t do) on sabbatical first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on January 2, 2014.”