|Five words from oursin
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
Church, west London
I'm moving this week. Creativity is low; cravings for popcorn and films involving fast cars and explosions are high. Rather than bore you all with "ZOMG I NEEDS MORE BOXES" type posts, I figured I'd catch up on some memes I owe. oursin gave me five words a while ago, and I'm going to start with
London is home. I'm not ready to move away from it, although I'm going to do so in a matter of days. At least I'm not going far. It's the place I've been the most devastated, and subsequently, the happiest. I've grown into my own skin here. I partake in the wordless love that so many other Londoners have for this city. Every day I spot something new in her, and every day I observe tiny rituals dedicated to her, like stopping to appreciate the view over the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge. I have a small irrational belief that these acts are my contribution to the buzz makes her so special.
Physics is for people who prefer complicated but consistent explanations to glib answers. I am one of those people. (This preference is linked to my lack of religious belief.) I like the fact that physics provides the best possible explanation in terms of reliable, repeatable observation, for the way the universe works. I also like the fact that the explanation will change and improve as we learn to adapt our tools (including our minds) to further our understanding.
Academia is seemingly inescapable. If academia were a person, I would call our relationship codependent. I tried to leave, but I keep coming back. I am happy in my current job, which allows me the advantage of participating in my favourite parts of it such as the lack of dress code, flexibility of hours, freedom to structure my tasks as I please, teaching and outreach, lots of technical problems to solve and working with very bright and equally weird people. It also shields me from the parts that I dislike, such as the petty politics, the scrambling for permanent positions, the need to publish endlessly even if it's drivel and the horrors of conferences. I feel that if I were to return to academia in an academic capacity, I'd probably be able to overcome my Impostor Syndrome, now that I've had so much practice not caring what other academics think of me. But I'd prefer to stay as I am.
Strangely, I feel I could repeat a good deal of what I said about my current position in academia with regard to my status as an expat. I'm just the right amount of uncomfortable in the UK. Though I have an English boyfriend and I participate in and relish many English activities, such as Sunday roasts, listening to the cricket on the radio, drinking beer and queueing, I can never hope to achieve complete assimilation. I have a sense of heightened awareness all the time, and I've learned to like it - to depend on it, even.
I tend to think that the role of serendipity in science (and in life) is overemphasized. Sometimes unintended consequences arise from my actions and very occasionally they may have been life-changing, but I don't think any such events have been totally unexpected. Most "Eureka!" moments happen after a long, grueling slog, pondering over the same question/data/relationship before the solution coalesces. Of course, long grueling slogs don't make for good sound bites, which is why the myth of the "Eureka!" moment of genius perpetuates.