Today is my last day working for Bangor University. After four years I am moving to a new gig as Senior Lecturer at Swansea University. Excited, thrilled and energised to get things done, but also on a reflective mood about moving on.
Moving on is not difficult and should not be so either. It has been fairly straightforward for me. After leaving Portugal almost 10 years ago (yikes!) and passing through Barcelona and Nottingham before landing in Bangor, I am more than used to change. It probably helps that the migrant spirit runs in the family: 3 of my 4 surnames are not Portuguese and my father did his law degree in Ireland where his brother still lives. It runs in the family.
But this post is more than simply about living abroad. It is about change in general: accepting, embracing and looking for change. Working in academia affords us the possibility of moving around a few times during our career, as long as we are willing to do so. I have taken benefit of such changes over the years while allowing a few nice trains to pass by without stopping.
It is probably beneficial from a selfish career perspective to move every so often. Many people have always told me the only moment we have leverage over our employes is when we are appointed. After we sign on the dotted line, getting anything is extremely difficult. So the more we move, the more opportunities we have to improve our lot.
Moving on has its costs, particularly when you have a family or at least a significant other. My better half moved to Swansea over 3 years ago and we have been commuting weekly ever since, spending either 7 hours driving or 11 hours with our royal bums on trains. Not pleasant and very tiring. Stressful does not even start to describe it.
Luck had it that I was able to move to Swansa, thus making this particular moving on a no brainer in personal terms. Going home every night is priceless. But this move is more than simply a personal move. Professionally it makes sense to move every so often as with every passing year the opportunities to learn diminish. I learned immensely every time I moved to a new job. Had I stayed in my first law firm, my professional profile and even my personality would be a lot narrower and not for the better.
Exposure to new challenges, people and work methods forces us to adapt and devise new solutions. It is like a new opportunity to rebuild the professional scaffolding where our work rests, in a different way from our previous efforts. A new blank canvas where to project dreams, ambitions, frustrations or mistakes. It also allows institutions to renew themselves, improve working culture and benefit from fresh ideas.
I am very different from the Pedro who walked into Bangor 4 years ago, hopefully for the better. What I will not be in Swansea is the same Pedro I was in Bangor. Different challenges, different people, different solutions.