While 2020 has brought much to be unhappy about, I noticed this week a small silver lining to the current pandemic. As an academic on the quarter system, May and early June tend to be a tough time for me. I’m usually tired since it’s the end of our academic year. At the same time nearly every other academic I know, and I know a reasonable number of them, is at a semester-based institution in the Northern Hemisphere which means that their academic year is over. Watching each of them post on social media about the start of their summer tends to leave me feeling envious.
This year while the “it’s over” postings on have sprouted on schedule, I don’t find myself being envious. It probably helps that I had a research leave this year so that I’m not quite as tired. But I think a much bigger part of it is that my (remote) interactions with my students are an absolute highlight of my week. Talking to them, answering their emails, and having a twice-a-week Zoom sessions with each class is one of the reasons I feel I’m able to handle the state of the world and the continuing Illinois stay-at-home order with some measure of calm. I find myself sad at the idea that the quarter will end in early June, since that feels too soon. I will miss this group of students very much.