Someone once told me they would find academic life annoying because ‘all the meetings; every other day having coffee and discussion, or making sure you knew what everybody else was doing’. This culture partly comes from the rows and rows of offices that line most university corridors. I can think of few other office buildings with the luxury of space afforded to most “traditional” universities. It can feel isolating, sometimes, wandering the many corridors and wondering what is going on behind so many closed doors.
That aside, I love campus life.
Firstly, I love the idea of a campus; a space full of learning. The first time I walked into the Parkinson Building at Leeds I thought ‘wow, this makes me feel smart’. And I got that feeling every time I walked past that building for three years. Granted, I probably spent more time on its iconic steps waiting for a bus/drinking coffee/drunkenly reenacting a scene from Star Wars with drain pipes than I did discussing relativity or Tolstoy. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever discussed Tolstoy. But I have spent my campus life ploughing through a library worth of books, seeing concerts I would never usually see, having heated debates, pushing boundaries of my own knowledge, teaching others and meeting experts at the forefront of their field.
And it’s not immersion in a culture of research and knowledge that I enjoy. Traditional red brick or modern concrete jungle I’ve had the luxury of working in some spectacular spaces. I’ve blogged before here, and here, about art and beauty on campus, and when wandering this Malaysian campus the other week I found some special sites there too – complete with aviary, fish tank and reflexology path.
And in case this has all got a little too highbrow then I should add a few other perks to academic work. Free chocolate. Every Tuesday. With the 40p paper. Cheapish drinks in the union bar, cheapish food in the union shop, and a constant array of student activities throughout the academic year that provide perfect procrastination from thesis writing.