2007-05-19 - 1:07 p.m.
...answering my own question...
This entry cross-posted here
K and I woke this morning with a sigh of relief. Because it's raining. This means that we will NOT be having another garage sale with our landlords today. We don't mind the concept, but we were both too tired this week to haul all of our stuff together for such an endeavor. (the other side effect of the rain is that there are no drums in the park on this lovely three-day holiday weekend! hee hee! The bliss of quiet!)
I wrote yesterday about not fitting in yet in Vancouver, and about how I am still not feeling integrated into my department. I didn't write about the other side of the coin (after all, this is my diary, where else can I moan and complain?), which is the consideration of where ELSE I would go to do my work in this field.
Would I go back to New York? Although I miss a great deal of New York, the answer is no. I don't want to go back to a place where I'm paid less to have ridiculous demands and deal with ridiculous personalities. Although I desperately miss the good side (I identify so much more with many of the people there), sadly, it's not worth the hardship that I endured there.
Would I go back to Germany? Unfortunately, I doubt that, too. I loved loved LOVED living in Germany. But part of what I loved was the research level I was at, which limited my responsibilities in dealing with administration. As one gets promoted up the ranks in Germany, it gets tougher and tougher to be a successful woman in academic research. I just can do without the hassle of it. Also there are incredible cliques in my field - both in the USA and in Germany. I don't deal well with cliques, and so it's tough to get funded. So, I guess a return to Germany is a hypothetical maybe, but with conditions.
Would I go to another new and different place? eh. Maybe, but it would undoubtedly involve another intercontinental move (!) and I'm not certain that I'm ready for that.
Staying where I am at the moment, in spite of my complaints, is clearly the best option, for several reasons. First of all, every move involves a new startup, which means a new set of opportunity costs of establishing a lab and adjusting to administration. I'm just not ready to do that again anytime soon.
Second, when I consider the negatives of research cliques in other places, I realize that the community of researchers in my field in Canada have for the most part been supportive so far. It's a community of people that has much fewer resources, and they are spread out over a huge geographic area, but I can work with them.
Third, I know how bad a working group or department CAN be. My department here is not particularly supportive or effective with regards to my career...but at least they are nice people. They are not antagonistic, and they don't want to see me fail. I don't really click with most of them...but they are quite amicable and reasonable people who want to avoid conflict.
Four, the first year isn't quite over yet...I still have a summer of research ahead of me, during which time I have the opportunity to achieve and feel productive again. There's still time.
Part of the readjustment for me is redefining my expectations. It's clear that my department is not collaborative, and there is very little I can do to change the whole culture of the department. It's also clear that I'm not necessarily meant to stay here. But I have five years of funding to find my niche and to be as productive as I can at what I like to do. Rather than taking this point as "they just ignore me" it is much more productive to be thinking, "I'm being left alone, so I can do my own thing." In fact, once I get through all this little set-up bullshit, there is a chance that I can be pretty darned productive on my own, as long as I sequester ample time for seeking out my long-distance collaborators, and try not to worry too much about what is expected of me.
So, yes, while I need my time to moan, complain, and feel rather depressed about how some of my expectations have not been filled, and about how some cultural differences are rather irritating...I can also ask the question, "will it be better anywhere else?" The answer is always that there are tradeoffs, and the trick is to minimize the negatives, because you never get rid of them. Adjustment periods really suck. But really, they are just the time needed to make things fit together as well as possible.
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...they are just words, Suzi... - 2011-08-29