First Impressions from my arrival yesterday

Flying overnight does not get easier as one ages. I arrived in Manchester bleary-eyed but excited, and I was able to quickly get my train tickets and find the station. Finding the platform, however, was a bit of a different matter. While my ticket said “Manchester to Carlyle” for the first leg, there was no indication of platform or the name of the train and nothing matched on the departure board. I asked, of course. Turns out I needed the Glasgow Centre train, but only one of the last three cars, because it would split down the line. Thanks to the station customer service and some cheerful fellow passengers (who were equally bemused and bewildered but rather less exhausted), I ended up going in the right direction. I ended up having a lovely wide-ranging conversation with my seat-mate, a History professor from Glasgow University. We talked about fee structures and program offerings, the challenges for our students, the differences in the value of a broad based degree between Canada and the UK, various research projects, and football. On the train from Carlyle to Haltwhistle, I managed a twenty minute nap. Once at the cottage, I managed a two hour nap, and felt much better. Only then did I stop to think about the student experience in getting here, which I do not think has been posted (but I might have missed something). Specifically, what I thought was how great it is to have that feeling that in the midst of uncertainty (wait, there is no train name nor platform listed on my ticket, nothing matches on the board, and man am I tired on top of it all!) I’d manage everything just fine and be able to get to the next stage of the journey. That is a great feeling: it is often called “resilience,” sometimes called “take charge attitude,” and always an absolutely central component of moving through life with intention and purpose.

So, my first impression: wow, are people ever nice up here. Helpful, courteous, friendly, engaging — especially to over-tired curious Canadians who randomly strike up conversations. And, what an amazing learning experience for the students. Hopefully some of them will read this (hint, hint!) and comment about what they felt at the same time.

Beth, Alex and the students were off-site yesterday, so I was left with specific instructions about how to get here and what to do when I arrive. Part of those instructions concerned my potential hunger and went something like this: “There is a frozen pizza in the freezer … if you want to make pizza, just click the red switch down above and to the right of the stove” or “there is a pub about a half mile away, up the hill and on the right.” Guess which option I chose?

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