As I write this, the holiday season is beginning and the end of term is right around the corner. There’s only a week and a half left until Michaelmas Term ends and everyone is heading off for a much-deserved winter break. At the same time, we’re entering the 19th month of a global pandemic that has no end in sight as the new Omicron variant sends shudders around the world. It hardly feels like we’ll ever get back to our pre-pandemic normal. Maybe what we’re living through today is our new one.
That said, this Michaelmas Term was more like a pre-pandemic academic semester than the ones we experienced during the 2020-21 academic year. This year, there’s been a lot of energy on campus as students, staff, and teachers returned to classrooms, offices, and the library to work at LSE. Weeks don’t pass at a time before I go back to campus to teach, work, or catch up with friends. There’s something of a routine we’ve all had which has helped us grapple with whatever stage of the pandemic we’re now in – frankly, I’ve lost track of how we’re classifying the stages now.
After basically an entire year of hybrid and online teaching, it has been fantastic to be back in the classroom with my students. It’s incredibly motivating to come in each week and listen to their thoughtful comments and analysis. I learn so many new things from them every week, which helps me grow as a teacher, a scholar, and more importantly, as a person. There’s something incredibly rewarding about that.
It’s also been wonderful to start rebuilding the PhD community in the Department of International History after we were driven into confinement in our homes throughout most of the pandemic. The History PhD room is buzzing with people after being largely quiet last year. Folks are regularly coming to campus to work, study, and catch up with colleagues, friends, and peers to build their relationships and their social circles. It’s been very heartening to see and I hope it continues in 2022.
Despite all the positive developments this Michaelmas Term, it’s also been a tiring semester so far. There’s definitely more work to do than there was before the pandemic and normally routine activities take much more time and energy to complete. This can be quite draining, especially toward the end of a semester. I think we’re all feeling that in one way or another. So finish this term strong and enjoy a well-deserved rest with your family and loved ones this holiday season. Hopefully, 2022 is a better year for all of us.