I’m going to try blogging again as we move to Singapore and start work at Nanyang Technological
University. Folks at home have suggested it, and I’ve resisted it for various reasons, but I remember how knowing I was blogging kept my eyes open to experiences in a way that I enjoyed. So here we go.
Many of us, Sandra and I included, have referred to our move as the start of a big adventure. That’s true in a lot of ways. A new country and a new culture, a new university and school, many lifestyle changes, new positions, for starters. Yet I have some trepidation at calling it an adventure, since my new colleagues and neighbors will have been in Singapore for many years or for all of their lives. What I find novel and amusing may be so ordinary and pedestrian to others, I suspect that reporting on things that catch my attention, that might amuse the folks at home, will serve mostly to show my new colleagues what a clueless newbie I am. So here goes that, as well.
So to back up: We started preparing to relocate some months ago, by starting to pare down. We’ll be living in faculty housing in a great 3-bedroom apartment, but it will be smaller than the house we spread out in in Michigan. So we began selling or donating many possessions, making iterative decisions about furniture, décor, utensils, and many possessions. We liberated ourselves of a lot of stuff. We painted the house and put it on the market in April, using a website and Zillow instead of a broker, and were pleased that after two weekends’ open houses a really lovely couple agreed to buy the house. It was about that time we learned we had quickly to get our things ready for packing and shipping. The movers came and put our belongings into a cargo container, and it went to Detroit by truck, New York by train, and then by ship south, through the Panama Canal, and it is now crossing the Pacific and the international date line. We’re tracking the ship’s progress because there actually is an app for that. It will come in to harbor in Singapore a few days after we do, if all goes well.
Sandi Smith invited us to stay with her and with Loki and Scout during the intervening time, and we were so grateful, and have had fun being roommates and getting trained by Loki and Scout. Scout is smart and petulant, and frequently tricks us. His flirting with Sandra has become quite melodramatic. Loki is the softest, sweetest boy, with a heart of gold. Some people think he is dangerous. I think he is protective. We have an understanding. We will remain grateful for and fond of our time at Ranger Smith’s.
We’re looking forward to our new positions and a new country, so unsure of how exactly things will be, but optimistic and excited. Singapore, as we have said, has seemed to us a little like Disneyland: It is landscaped and beautifully maintained, has beautiful architecture in styles from traditional to ultra-modern. There are rules that guests to the park must follow. And of course it is in a warm location. There’s great food and a lot to do. Beyond that, it is a prosperous society that values research and education, and supports it well, and we’re crazy about being a part of that. We’ll let you know more what it’s like depending on how the blogging goes.
After a day’s recovery we start our jobs July 1, Sandra as the Manager of the Honors Program for the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) at Nanyang Technological University. I will become the Wee Kim Wee Professor in Communication Studies, in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, also in the CHASS.
What particularly am I looking forward to? It’s a growing and ambitious school with many young and mid-career scholars, and really for the first time in my career I will be one of the oldest guys around. I look forward to joining the conversation about the doctoral program and how to capitalize on international educational opportunities, joining efforts to bring students from Europe and America to Singapore. I’m looking forward to seeing how I may work with younger faculty who may want a sounding board or a research partner. I’m looking forward to re-articulating my research interests in a new context, with partners who can help me see different angles that fit local needs, and framing theoretical questions in ways that align with the academic community’s moral and material support. To meeting new students who study hard, who will teach me many new things about how they use the Internet to communicate with one another. I have already been working remotely with staff members whose professionalism, courtesy, and warmth has been amazing. To seeing what I can do in a situation that seems in many ways limitless, with excited people who seem to want to excel and who have been treating me exceptionally graciously. I always find, as I travel, that people around me make me smarter, even though they have sometimes imagined that it was the other way around.
We have fantasies of dinners at Canteen 2 with friends and students. More on that later. And of course, we look forward to our ship coming in.