On the heels of closing with the Visa and Immigration office, I turned towards Cambridge, hitting the road at 4 am for a 9:30 start to my spring teaching. The roads were empty and a cold rain was falling as I looped around London and into the East Anglian countryside. The peace was welcome: the run-up to the ILR was grueling, more relief than joy to finally have the process over with, and I needed to get my mind forward into the next assignment.
Still, the drive was a brief chance to reflect, happily, on what’s been achieved so far this month.
Formally, I am a Senior Associate at the University of Cambridge, leading the Medical Device and Diagnostics module for the Masters in Bioscience Enterprise program bridging the Biotechnology Centre and the Judge Business School.
Informally, I’m teaching and mentoring while engaging in an exchange of ideas, networking, and building the brand. All to the good, and nice to have a few days back in my old haunts.
I got time to visit with friends over lunches and coffees, its been wonderful to hear what they have been up to, catch up with news, and take some valuable advice. While everyone remains successful and healthy, everyone also knows many who are not, and I make a mental list of friends to look in on.
It’s a part of our age, I expect: heart troubles and cancers displacing career and relationship problems. Its sobering: one commented that the actuarial tables suggest we could each lose half of our friends in the next ten years (‘like the old ‘look right, look left; both will be gone but two are looking at you’ admissions game)
Back at the college, it’s a familiar comfortable routine: breakfast eggs upstairs and evening beer down, walking in to class in flat morning light across the Fens and back along the Cam in the evening’s glow. My lectures go well: the eternal truths of the development process alongside the changing mosaic of market and technology opportunities. I learn and reflect, discuss and renew.
I took some meetings with prospective additions to the business, and spent a few hours in the library, collecting literature on device development, antimicrobial coatings and the expat experience.
One interesting find was a study by Silbiger (2013) on Expat Stress and Burnout. Surveying 233 expatriate workers, the study concluded:
Expatriates have a high level of general stress. a low level of burnout, and a very high perceived work importance.
Burnout was negatively correlated with expatriates’ work
importance, while stress has a positive correlation with it: The better the work and interaction adjustment, the less burnout and the more stress.
Expatriates burn out when they feel that their work is insignificant; Expatriates view the stress involved in their work as an indication of its importance.
Stress has long been a topic for discussion among Human Resource types and within the expat community: the findings aren’t inconsistent with my own experiences. The wezen suggests that my life is constant moderate stress rather than ups and downs. Perhaps. I find that if I push and get too tired, stay indoors at desk and phone too long, or fail to take clean breaks away or time with people close to me, I can lose patience and perspective.
It’s worth reflection on the drive back south to plunge into the next round of activity: I make a note to include the thought in the mentoring slides for next month.
‘Cambridge still teaches me.