One of the things I have learnt since joining academia as a PhD student in 2016, is that there are clear and distinct seasons within academia. Just like we do in our everyday lives, we have to move through these seasons, and sometimes this can mean enduring long and cold winters. Other times it means flourishing in extended summers (think Icelandic summers with 23 hours of sunshine a day!). So what do these seasons look like?
Autumn: In Autumn, the air is starting to get crisp, warning us that cold is near. The leaves that flourished are turning orange and falling from the trees. It is a cozy time of year, full of warm coffee! In Academia this is the time where many of the grants / papers / research motivation are starting to dry up. Some persistent leaves stay on the tree, but abundance no more. It is a time where we enjoy the slow pace, take time to breathe in the refreshing cold air.
Winter: Winter is dark, cold, and moody. It is a time where people cuddle up inside and it takes something very enticing to emerge from hibernation. It is an opportunity for rest, for reflection, for planning. In Academia this is the time where all grants, papers, and research motivation have also gone into hibernation. It is that long time, where it feels as though there are no citations around the corner. We spend our time in offices, or labs, or at home. Reflect on the previous months and what is important. We start to plan for what we are going to do when it starts to turn warmer, and we start to put those plans into motion (new research proposals, reading articles, starting literature reviews, early stage grant planning).
Spring: The season that is full of life. Everything is blooming, including people- emerging from their slumber and enjoying the sunshine. Smiling, celebrating, enjoying! In Academia this is the time where all of those seeds that were planted during the long winter are blooming. Citations, grants, science communication opportunities, new projects are all sprouting from places we didn’t even know they were planted. We enjoy and celebrate this sunshine.
Summer: The sun continues to shine, actually a little too hot in many cases. Everything is still blooming, although it is evident that everyone is becoming a little tired of the heat. Crisp air will be welcomed. In Academia, this is the time where we continue to enjoy the blooms of spring. We are busy, there is so much to be done, but it is enjoyable to do it all because the sun is shining. We do not take these opportunities and successes for granted, although we know that when they start to dry, we will take an opportunity to breathe in the crisp air.