Thursday, September 24, 2015

Impressions Thus Far

Today marks 1 month since classes have started, but it feels like it has been so much longer. So much has happened within the past month, but I can honestly say I really enjoy my job. On one hand it is very similar to what I've been doing (particularly last spring), but on the other hand it feels very different and new. I am independent in many ways now, but also have new responsibilities. I will say though, having my own office is pretty amazing! Since academia is broken down into 3 domains, that's how I'm going to discuss it.

This was the area I was most unsure about. I had only taught one class before this, so I still felt (and feel) like I'm going into things blindly. I can give a lecture, that's fine. I'm lucky enough to be teaching classes that I actually care about, so I think the students can tell I'm passionate about it. It makes it a lot easier to discuss things when you're nervous when you know it well! So far the students have been great and have participated a lot through in-class discussions. Yes, there are some that sleep or otherwise look utterly bored, but I try not to focus on them too much. There are several other students who do look engaged and ask great questions. 

So being in the classroom itself hasn't been too bad. Dealing with other issues that do pertain to students can get tricky. The amount of discretion we as professors are given is immense, so I've faced hard decisions over whether to let certain students make up assignments or exams based on different reasons/excuses. One of my mentors at my prior university advised me to do what other students would think is fair (even if I think that is too lax), so that's what I've been trying to base my decisions on. I guess time will tell how that goes!

This is one area that didn't really change much. I did research in grad school and I'm continuing several of those projects now. I just submitted several articles to be considered for publication, so keep your fingers crossed they get favorable reviews! The one thing that has changed has been being able to put "Assistant Professor" as my job title, as opposed to PhD student. That still makes me smile :) I have also gotten the chance to collaborate with others in other departments at my university, so that is a great opportunity!

This is a very new area for me. Sure, I served as an officer in my discipline's graduate student association, but as a professor you're expected to serve on various committees at the departmental, college, and university level. Fortunately my department protects me my first year from most assignments, though I have gotten the opportunity to serve on a few things. They haven't been too much work, but have been interesting and have introduced me to several new people at the university.

So overall I am happy with my position. Sure, there are aspects I don't like (having to tell a student they failed an exam is really not fun) and some decisions have woken me up in the middle of the night, but I'm figuring it out as I go. Our lifestyle has certainly changed as I am not able to work from home as much as I used to, but we're adjusting. 

Anyway, that's the update on my life, work-wise. And look-- 2 posts in September!! Hooray!

*Note, I am keeping some points vague. I realize I have no control over who reads this blog so I have to protect others as well as myself.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Love Home Ownership

Or not. I'll let you be the judge. 

So a few nights ago we wake up at 1:30 AM to what sounded like a heavy rainstorm, except the noise was coming from inside our house. Obviously not good. Come to find out the water supply line for one of the toilet upstairs broke, spraying a large amount of water everywhere. There was enough water to start leaking into the formal dining room below. And by leaking, I mean streaming. Out of the AC filter. And the ceiling. Yeah, it was fun. Matt quickly turned off the water and we were able to get a water restoration crew out to clean up the mess. 

This is after the water has been removed, but before all the fans were put in.
The vent where the water was gushing out. If you look
closely, you can see some cracks where the water was flowing, too.
The guilty water supply line...
And ALL of the fans and dehumidifier in the dining room.
Can't forget about the octopus, used to dry inside the wall.

Upstairs, taking up the carpet to dry the floors.
We had these large fans and dehumidifiers in our house for a little under a week. During this time, we were pretty much confined to living in either the study upstairs or our bedroom because it was quite loud. Seriously, when we cooked in the kitchen we wore earplugs. We moved a card table, chairs, and TV into our bedroom, so that certainly helped, but after 4-5 days, we started to get antsy. 

Fortunately, our insurance agreed to cover all of the repairs, so the deduction we have to pay will go quite far. Along with all the drywall repairs and whatnot, we'll be getting new carpet upstairs and new flooring downstairs. That obviously adds new complexity to our already-busy lives, but it is a good stressor when it is all said and done. We were very fortunate that we were both home when the burst happened (Matt had just gotten home from a business trip the night before) and we caught it fairly quickly. The damage could have been much, much worse so we count ourselves blessed!

I do have to say that while home ownership does have its downsides, we are still glad we bought this house. It's only been 5 months but we've had a lot of fun already and consider it home.