Normally I write about my life here and I'll get to that in a minute, but right now I'm pretty preoccupied thinking about what everyone in Britain is thinking about right now regarding the massive humanitarian crisis and our weird policies of border policing. Germany is doing better than us. Iceland is doing better than us. Our government is just standing around going, well, the answer's not just to let more people in, blah blah blah. And okay I'm no expert on politics. I probably don't even have an intermediate understanding of European politics. But I absolutely do not understand why not. I mean, to me, an averagely ignorant citizen, it just seems incredibly obvious that we should just build on some of the 90+% of Britain that's undeveloped, let people in, they can help with the building and live in the new settlements as their going up and bonus - artificial house prices in urban centres come down! And it's not like out of the tens of thousands of refugees that need shelter some of them won't have skills we need, like medicine and engineering, so we can build more hospitals and schools and take some of the pressure off the ones we have. And hey - maybe then we'll have enough people with insight to actually do something to help in the Middle East and parts of Africa rather than just fucking shit up. Like, to me, this is absolutely a win-win proposal and I'm probably completely naive and uninformed and there's some massive reason why this wouldn't work, but to be fair it's not like the government is coming up with anything better. So no my answer is not 'let more people in', it's 'let more people in and BUILD THINGS'. We need to build things anyway. Britain's urban centres are overcrowded and there's too much land that isn't doing anything (which creates this weird right wing myth that Britain is 'full up'. It isn't anywhere near full up. It just has highly concentrated pockets of development. We just need to spread out and invest in some goddam infrastructure).
So yes speaking of spreading out, I am in North Wales, which of course everyone who reads this blog knows, and officially a fully employed member of the University of Bangor. My induction did not involve a boat, so so much for that, it was basically like going to a conference, meeting the vice chancellor, and then seeing a bunch of presentations about policies and professional development and data protection and a tour of the sports facilities, which are absolutely enormous and cater for pretty much every imaginable sport, up to and including a climbing wall. All the sporty people who go outdoors for fun were like cool while I stood awkwardly at the back having flashbacks of high school gym class, but thank God I found two people who like me, are strong in their commitment to maintaining the smallest amount of time-efficient exercise possible to keep our bodies from malfunctioning completely. In the weight room - roooms, halls, practically theaters - which are filled with barbells approximating the mass of small cars, my eyes met with a postdoc from biological science and shared a moment of incredulity and embarrassment in the knowledge that people came here voluntarily to pick those things up on purpose. Apparently weightlifting is an actual thing in Bangor. I met this guy who is a new lecturer in sports science today, who told me that whilst there is no requirement to actually *do* any sport in the attainment of sports science degrees, some of the students are here on weightlifting scholarships. I didn't even know we had sport scholarships in Britain.
This morning I had what would have been my induction to the Postgrad Certificate in Higher Ed, but it turns out I don't actually have do the whole course. You see, levels one and two of the certificate correspond to the recognitions of Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy respectively, and as I've already got the first one there's really no point in me starting hte certificate from scratch. Instead I'm going to be doing hte full fellowship by direct appliaction, which is a great relief in the sense it takes out a bunch of unecsseary work from my schedule, but a bit sad in that I met a few really nice people this morning. Then again I did that yesterday too and I'll be seeing *those* people again at the academic induction and the beginner's Welsh classes, so yay! I have social contact again! I met this one guy who is - wait for it - a trilingual marine biologist from Catalonia doing a postdoc research placement here. And he's super sweet and nice so it's not like I'm even intimidated by the ridiculous-accomplishments-before-the-ag
So the Welsh classes aren't compulsory but I get the feeling they are strongly strongly encouraged IYKWIM and will look very good at my review. I'll probably start in the beginner's class even though I can read a little bit, because intermediate is likely too advanced for me. Although they're on different days so there's nothing to stop me trying both, it's all free. And we're supposed to be as bilingual as possible, if you see what I mean, like opening and closing emails with bilingual greetings and posting both the welsh and English for notices on our office doors. There's a free university translation service and a huge interactive bank of common phrases like 'office hours' (oriau swyddfa. See I'm learning. I already knew swydffa was office so presumably office is the modifying word here, i.e., these are the hours of the office). Also students can submit work in Welsh or English, and if necessary a trained university translator translates if for the marker, because quite a lot of them have Welsh as a first language. It's not like I'm going to learn Welsh in a year but I think the willingness to try is important (apparently the vice chancellor got a Welsh A-Level this year, which, fair play to him, he sat in the local school surrounded by 17 year olds. He's Irish).
So yeah. That's all the news for now. Tomorrow I'll start work on the bibliography for the actual real draft of the book, and now I have tons of stuff do with my actual classes here and more meetings and training next week. It's all go. Zara is becoming maximum brave and has even taking to 'hunting' her toys in a kittenish manner.