06 November 2012

Academic Adjustment

After working here for more than a month now, I sometimes find myself still adjusting to the different work environments here. It's not that I find things to be difficult, it's just that it is different, and sometimes it takes time to shed the habits that one has acquired after 7 years.

Since I am working in a research institute, that means that I am not in a university with students. That means that my time isn't divided between research and teaching. That means that I can simply sit at my table and do research: design experiments, analyze them, whatnot. I don't need to hold office hours and deal with students that while most are amazing, some are just a pain.

Also, since I am not in a university, then we have to be creative when finding our subject pool. I won't reveal details here, as I think it would not be wise, but I am finding the fact that we have plenty of connections with many different people all over Germany a great blessing. Hence, we don't have problems finding participats in experiments.

One cognitively dissonant thing I am struggling with is the fact that as much as English is pretty much the lingua academia, research is still most of the time done in German. Meetings are held in German, and so are discussions. I guess it is not a bad thing, after all, it is German immersion, and this makes my German skills better. But I just find it interesting that the discussions are in German, and yet our publications are mostly in English.

Another thing I am slowly liking is this idea that I have leave days that I can take. Since I am not teaching in a university, I am hired for the whole year, every month (my professors in Buffalo on the other hand are only employed for 9 months per year, so they can do whatever they want during the summer, with no student advising or teaching obligations, but they better be there during the semester). However, I have leave days that I can use if I want, and I will definitely use them. I simply need to file a leave, and I don't have to go to work. That I think is amazing.

One thing I like with academia is the idea that one can work from home. So I don't need to be in my office every day if I don't want to. That is still the same back in Buffalo, and I still find that enjoyable. Here, I don't work at home, but I can work from coffeeshops if I want to.

(Exercisers, from my Central Park Series)


  1. You seem to have made a smooth transition though! I bet your adaptation skills were put to good use.

    1. Zhu,

      Smooth as the transition may be, it still is a transition. However, you're right, I've done this so many times before that it is not a big problem as for others.