Friday, October 31, 2008

I Gots Me A Job!!!

Well, hello, faithful readers. I know, I know! It's been a long time. The longest I've ever been away from my blog. Please forgive me. It's just been a very trying last few months for typical reasons.

But I did want to tell you that another reason why I've been too busy to write more is because I got a job with the University of Edinburgh! I am now an official member of the Department of History staff! I am a tutor for their American History 2 course. It's basically the same job that we term "teaching assistant" or "TA" back in the States. It's only once a week but for that day, I feel like my old self again.

I can't tell you how much it's affected me. For months, I've felt my brain slipping- wasting away without other intellectuals to converse with on a weekly basis.

I absolutely love commuting by train, walking out of Waverly Station and walking up the hill into Old Town passed the Royal Mile onto George IV Bridge and onto campus. I have my iPod and some fashion magazine to pass the time on the train. Then I have the formidable views of the smog-coated medieval and renaissance styled churchs and municipal buildings to keep my eyes darting from one side of the street to the other.

Now, although I'm an anthropologist, more specifically, a historical archaeologist by training, I have enough academic background to feel secure in teaching American history to second year students. But I will admit, I was taken aback just a bit. The students (at least in my classes) are ridiculously smart. Far more, by numbers, than students I taught in some parts of the US. But then, University of Edinburgh is one of the best institutions around. I believe it is ranked within the top the world!
From what I gather, if one does not make it into Cambridge or Oxford, one goes to Edinburgh.
According to wikipedia: In the Third European Report on Science & Technology Indicators, compiled by the European Commission,[10] the University of Edinburgh ranked as follows:

* 5th in Europe
* 3rd in the UK
* 1.35 score of citation impact (0.2 points below the leader, University of Cambridge)

The 2007 Times Higher Education Supplement [THES] World University Rankings ranked the University of Edinburgh as follows:[11]

* 23rd in the world
* 5th in the UK
* 5th in Europe overall

And because of this, there is quite a large population of English and Welsh students here; larger than I would have expected for a Scottish establishment. But in both my classes, the English and Welsh students outnumber the Scottish. This seems to be a demographic pattern found in many other departments of the university, although I was told that the differences in numbers between Scottish and other British students has shrunk some over the years.

So far, I am thoroughly enjoying my students. I've never dealt with such small numbers for my groups (no more than 10 students per class!). I'm used to 50 students or more at a time. But I've no complaints.

After my classes and office hours are done, I walk through Old Town and have lunch, maybe do a little bit of shopping over in New Town before I catch the train back home to Perth.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesdays. Not bad at all!