‘And they pay you to do this?’
My big brother (both older and significantly taller than I) asked this question of me a few months ago. He preempted it by using the voice of my late Uncle Ian – an eminently practical, no nonsense kind of man – a partner in a major accounting firm in New York.
How is it that they pay you to go and work somewhere else for six months? Why would the university do that?
Universities are definitely clamping down on giving ‘research leave’ aka a ‘sabbatical’. It isn’t simply down time, it is time to regenerate; time to learn new skills; time to make new connections.
As I face my journey back home in a few days, my sabbatical has been fruitful professionally. I have made good relationships; I have definitely learnt some new skills; and I have managed to publish a few papers.
But it has also been a time that has been good personally. Removing myself from the routine of my life has given me time to think about what is important to me; what do I want to pursue and what will I let go. It has allowed things to flourish back home in my absence.
More than any of that, it has been a time of interior rearrangement. Allowing my being to settle into a new normal that feels somehow ‘better’.
I’m looking forward to getting back to my life. But I will be forever grateful for this pause. It could not have come at a better time for me.