Happy New Year! (September is the new year for academics)

September is my January. It’s a time for resolutions. I’ve written about September feeling like my January before.

And I’m not alone.

It’s not just university professors and students everywhere who feel this way.

Here’s Lindsey Siera writing about why September is actually New Year’s.

“Sure, January 1st may mark the onset of the official new year. But for most of us, it’s more about the excitement of New Year’s celebrations than an actual new beginning. In fact, there’s not a lot of “newness” about that time of year at all. It’s still winter. We’re still in the same humdrum routines. For many of us, it’s still just midway through the school year. And for all of us, it just doesn’t feel like all that much is fresh. Now September 1st — that’s when the new year actually feels like it’s ready to start. Albeit nine months into the “official” calendar year, it’s when our new planners actually begin. It’s the beginning of fall, when the leaves begin to change, the beginning of school terms, and (most importantly for fashion diehards) the beginning of the biggest, boldest fashion season of the year.”

Catherine blogged this week about her worries about re-entering the academic year routine after a good summer that had time for flexible fun and fitness. I’m still trying to balance my new big job with my fitness ambitions. Also, I need some plans and goals about writing and research. I love academic administration–making things happen makes me smile–but it’s a struggle to fit my own stuff in. Just check out Monday’s post on my scramble to find vacation time.

I set intentions about all sorts of things: getting enough sleep, packing healthy lunches, setting time aside every day to write, going to the gym, and riding my bike. Also, buying new clothes that aren’t black.

I’m commuting by bike everyday but it’s just 5 km round trip. That’s not enough. I’m also running errands by bike and that helps. Ditto there are a lot of dog hikes in my life. I get into the gym about twice a week to lift weights. What’s missing? Well, long bike rides, for sure. I also need a new thing to get me into the university fitness centre. It will be swimming for a few weeks. If that doesn’t take then aquafit and spin classes will take its place.

How about you? Does September feel like a new beginning to you? Do you set intentions? Make big plans?

A reddish dog with a white collar sitting on a chair, underneath a plant. Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

And so it begins, but with a new start!


Yesterday was the first day of the term here at Western. Classes official began. Classes start on Thursday, a rather odd day when you think about it, of the first week mostly so students don’t spend the entire week partying.

The first day of school always make me think of academic journeys, where they begin and where they go. I started in Journalism at King’s College, Halifax, and then moved on to Political Science at Dalhousie and then switched to Philosophy (also at Dalhousie.)

I’ve been in Philosophy Departments for a very long time, from end of undergrad to grad school in Chicago, and a 22 year teaching career in Philosophy at Western after that.

This fall, although I’m still teaching Philosophy courses, I’m starting in a new department at Western, Women’s Studies and Feminist Research. The journey continues! I can now supervise students in 3 departments at Western: WSFR, Philosophy, and Political Science. It feels like a start to a new stage in my academic career.

I’ve written before about new routines and back to school. While I’ll certainly miss weekday daytime bike rides–they’re a summer thing for me–I also like the regular rhythm and schedule of the academic year. I’ve always loved September. This one especially is a lovely mix of old and new.

A friend calculated how many first days of school he’d had in his lifetime. For me it’s 13 years of elementary through high school, 5 years of undergrad (I moved around a lot, see above), 5 years of grad school, and I’m starting my 23rd year of teaching at Western. So this September is my 46th first day of school. (I didn’t subtract sabbaticals.)

Here’s my very first day of school.

First day of school, Notre Dame Academy, Grand Falls, Nfld.
First day of school, Notre Dame Academy, Grand Falls, Nfld.