We are a mere five steps into the building when we are greeted by admin staff, the woman being friendly with Professor Hazel Hall invites us to visit her new office. After a conversation over our mutual respect and love for stationery, on the hour walk up, we are both delighted to oblige. We open the door to the handing of a letter. It’s a form for Hazel to sign, one of many to come.
The post arrives.
A dissertation to mark, a new journal and a couple of sheets to sign lie in the shadow of our disappointment as Hazel stands to show me the room. A ritual is played before me as she swaps bags, money and purses in preparation for the day and points out various landmarks of the room. I sit at a table amidst pieces of paper as Hazel moves over to the whiteboard and begins to draw up a schedule for the week. During which the kettle boils. Later, with the teapot nicely tucked away in a Harris Tweed tea cosy, we begin to work. A repetitive tapping of keyboards and clicking of mouses is interrupted by a visitor. We sigh simultaneously as we both notice the form in his hands.
Later, after many emails read and replied to, and many cups of tea drank, we have a visitor. Ph.D student Natalie joins me for my first interview of the week. Hazel sits behind her barrier as I splutter and umm my way through my questions. A couple of comments and giggles from behind the maroon shield and we’re done. We say goodbye, shake hands and return to our seats. Hazel remains consistent with her tapping, clicking and tea drinking, I on the other hand attempt to bring my heart rate back to normal as I sort myself out.
A well-deserved and enlightening break with two of Hazel’s colleagues proves interesting to say the least. One, dressed in a Pink Floyd zip up top and leggings, talks to me about my work experience so far. The other talks to Hazel about various projects and happenings in the university. We eat our sandwiches, marmite and tomato, in the canteen quietly and then return to the office.
At the end of the day we’re both knackered. However this doesn’t stop us from walking the hour long route home, leaving the comfort of the bus behind us… and then in front of us.
On return the the flat Hazel swiftly moves to her laptop, with a mug of tea brewing, where she uploads her ‘blip’ of the day; no surprise I was doing the exact same a few days later. After a fantastic meal, cooked by Hazel’s devoted house-husband, and great company we make our way to our beds,.
The next morning starts with the unfamiliar sound of my alarm, then by a groan as I lift myself out from my duvet. The next few days follow the same format (with the occasional well-appreciated substitute bus journey).
A great experience all-round and a unique insight into the life of an academic.