Back to school

It’s Labor Day in the U.S.: the unofficial end of summer. Since it’s not a holiday in the Netherlands, I was at work today, and this evening I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed and seeing pictures of pool parties, barbecues, and beach outings. And although I don’t ever remember starting school before Labor Day, last week Facebook was filled with back to school photos. Everyone had new clothes and shiny new backpacks, and most of the kids looked ready – if not terribly excited – for the new school year.

I’ve never worked in an academic setting, but I still find that September, not January, feels like the start of the year, just like it did back in my school days. If you know me, it won’t be surprise to hear that I LOVED the start of a new school year. As a Catholic school kid, I wore a uniform, so I didn’t have new clothes.  But I usually had a new pair of shoes (which I was not allowed to wear until school started) and new school supplies. Everything seemed clean, ready, and full of potential.  We’d pick up our books a few days before classes started, and I would get an early jump on things by starting to read my history text or my math workbook. Yes, I was that kind of kid. (But like I said: are you surprised?)

The summer vacation in Holland is a bit shorter than in the U.S., and many of my colleagues’ children have already been back to school for several weeks. August was a frenzy of holiday-taking, as everyone tried to fit in a last vacation before the summer ended. So there is also a back-to-school feeling at work, as people return, tan and rested (for now).

I’m also going back to school. Last year, as part of my attempt to un-stick myself from the stuck-ness I was feeling in my work and life, I started looking into graduate programs. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, and then I stumbled on an online program at neighboring Northeastern University, in Corporate and Organizational Communication. Since my past work experience was largely operational, this seemed like a good way to balance out my professional self, and it just sounded interesting. Crisis communication, ethics, and, for this semester, negotiation, mediation and facilitation. This class won’t come a moment too soon, as I’ve been called on to do more than my share of (cross-cultural) facilitation recently,

Classes start on the 21st and last a brief but intense 6 weeks, so don’t be surprised if my blogging falls off a bit during that time. And with two weeks until the first day of school, I of course bought one of my books today, and will probably start reading it this week.  Now all I need is a new pair of shoes…

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