Sunday, June 17, 2007

So this is Prague…

Welcome to the airport in the middle of Prague where the world seem to be racing past as I wait for my plane to check-in and have chance to type up the minutes from the last few days.

Prague has changed since I was last here. The centre is a lot more tourist-friendly, all clean paint and clear directions to popular bars. The outside, though, is poor and, indeed, looking poorer. The money that is coming into the Czech Republic is being focussed on a very small areas. There are more Western Shops (Subway, M&S, Mothercare etc.) but there are all the deals for currency. There are more signs marking prices in Euros (to start a bid for the single currency) but everyone works in small amounts of change. There are some changes but only for a few people.

I suppose, I have changed, too. I have gone from Youth Hostel to an Apartment Hotel. From bus/tram transfers to taxi transfer. I have gone from T-shirt and shorts to suit and ties. That said, it was still enjoyable and the beer was just as good as I remembered!

It has to be said that the last few days in that I have had to breathe, live and almost sleep Erasmus Mundus. There is a feeling that the world is shrinking and courses like this seem to prove it. Students from 23 countries being taught in three countries. The reality of the course is becoming clear. The way that different countries work is incredible; from how you have coffee in meetings to how you make a point (Czechs = short and lacking in detail, Dutch = talk around the issue and are lacking in detail).

At the same time as working, I have a variety of meetings with tutors including some in an informal way. I have talked to several lecturers about doing doctorates and what surprised me I the way that they link to the real world. Furthermore, there is a real need for the research I do to have an impact on the world around me. At this stage, University is less about education and more about looking at the world around us.

I was talking to a tutor as I travelled in to the meetings and we were discussing various students and she asked me when I had finished. She went on to say that this was exactly the way that they would have talked about me. I was suddenly struck by the fact that I had changed sides of the table and how much my life had changed since graduating, a matter of months a go.

So I am sitting in an airport, having worked on a series of meetings and the reality of my situation is suddenly clear.

This is not a game and when I do not know quite what to do it sometimes feel like I am playing at being a University administrator. This is real. With money. And it needs to be done well.

Such is the reality of needing and enjoying employment,


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