Thursday, 8 December 2016

Sabbatical number 1

I'm writing this post in the final stretch of my first term of sabbatical leave. I was really lucky to be able to spend the term away from Oxford -- the below is my view -- but I didn't write this post to gloat. The sabbatical leave is an odd fish. People here (in France) don't seem to understand what it is (although that might be my bad French); it is nice when they mistake me for a student on her gap year, though. I looked it up (does Google translate count?), and the word for sabbatical is more or less the same... 'Sabbatique': that's what I thought! Although perhaps it has a different meaning?!

Before I began my sabbatical, my brother (who's an historian) sent me a link to a blog article, 'Seeking Sabbatical Advice', written by someone about to go on her first term of sabbatical leave. As far as I can tell, she wasn't offered much in the way of advice. This is telling. I'm not sure that there is much of a template for these things. For me, it was a great excuse to catch up on writing deadlines, to work on my new book, and to clear my inbox. I finally cleared my inbox today – for about 2 hours – but there is something oddly frightening about a screen that declares 'Inbox: 0 items'. It immediately, perversely, makes me want to run back to civilization. At the same time, I'm enormously admiring of a colleague (and friend of mine) who told me he keeps to a '<5' email inbox. That will definitely be my mantra going forward. Of course, a sabbatical is surely, mostly, about making resolutions you will never keep. Plus ├ža change...

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