Saturday, March 7, 2015

Work-life happiness

In between lunch meetings, a visitor talk and teaching prep (why did I think it was a good idea to have a lecture on topic X, which I have only ever taken one class on and not used or read about for five years, when I set up the syllabus?) I was sitting at my desk in the large open offices at my university pondering how things are just so nice here in New York. And how lucky I am to be here. I *really* like my colleagues who are all super competent, smart and hard working. We differ a lot in terms of research approach, I'm very qualitative where my neighbor for example is very quantitative. But we get excited about similar subjects and can discuss our research in dept. The open offices mean that we say hi and acknowledge each other throughout the day and in my group we have 2-3 impromptu meetings per day. I don't actually feel disturbed when I have to focus but I also come in a bit earlier than most of my colleagues and get a peaceful head start.

But what I also really like about this university is the positive energy of people and the smoothness of procedures. I had been here for less than two weeks before I had been introduced to and were on first name with most of the administrative staff as well as faculty members. Open offices also helps with this since you are much more likely to bump into colleagues walking through to the kitchen and common areas. The atmosphere is saturated with positive attitudes, "Yes, we can figure that out, yes, I'll help you with that", contrasting my university in Sweden where you most often get a No (we don't have money, resources for that) or an "I can't help you with that, find someone else who can".

So when people ask how things are here, I can't stop raving about how wonderful my work is. I have been asked to stay over the summer which is great but beyond that, unfortunately there are no options. I'm not the kind of person they are looking for to join their faculty here. Although that would probably make my life complete.

If my job satisfaction was not enough, my life-satisfaction is beyond anything in over three years. I'm being social with people I like (new and old friends), I have the most fun and adorable daughter to spend off hours with. Zoe is happy as happy can be because she is with her mom and at her new preschool she is starting to make friends. We have playdates with other children (new and old friends) and she is stoked to be in dance class where she understands everything. I downloaded Redrover, a mobile app that shows activities for children in New York (the app also works for a few other major cities in the US) and that took us to the doll festival at the Japanese Society last Sunday and will take us to creative open studio at the Guggenheim this weekend.

Being outside in the buzzing city is just the cherry on the top of the cupcake. Although it is still cold and snow covers large parts of the sidewalks, the New York atmosphere is unbeatable with the friendly chat and small favors (like letting me in to the subway through the emergency door because I had just used my card but left again to get a snack for Zoe). Zoe and I almost never get on to a full subway car without someone getting up so she can sit, something that never happens in Sweden (in fact people will keep their seats so Zoe and I have to sit diagonally from each other instead of just scooting in). All in all we got ourselves a really good deal here.  

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